Israel restricts Palestinian access to Al-Aqsa Mosque for 2nd Friday in row

Israeli authorities barred Palestinians from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem for the second Friday in a row.

An official with the Waqf Department in Jerusalem told Anadolu that Israeli police only allowed Palestinians over the age of 65 into the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The official, who preferred not to be named, added that Israel has imposed strict restrictions on Muslims for two weeks, since the start of the armed conflict with the Palestinian group Hamas on Oct. 7.

Eyewitnesses told Anadolu that dozens of Palestinian Muslims were forced to perform Fajr, or pre-dawn prayers, in the alleys leading to the Al-Aqsa Mosque after being denied entry by Israeli police.

Since early Friday morning, Israeli forces have been heavily deployed throughout occupied East Jerusalem, particularly in the Old City and the gates leading to the mosque.

The conflict in Gaza, under Israeli bombardment and blockade since Oct. 7, began when Hamas initiated Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, a multi-pronged surprise attack that included a barrage of rocket launches and infiltrations into Israel by land, sea, and air. It said the incursion was in retaliation for the storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and growing violence by Israeli settlers.

The Israeli military then launched Operation Swords of Iron against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip.

At least 3,785 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza, while the figure stands at more than 1,400 people in Israel.

*Writing by Ahmed Asmar in Ankara

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