Last Updated: Fri Aug 17, 2012 15:21 pm (KSA) 12:21 pm (GMT)

Thousands of Palestinians cross checkpoints into Jerusalem for Friday prayers

A girl looks at an Israeli border policeman as he checks the identity of Palestinians crossing at Qalandiya checkpoint outside the West Bank city of Ramallah, on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan August 17, 2012. (Reuters)
A girl looks at an Israeli border policeman as he checks the identity of Palestinians crossing at Qalandiya checkpoint outside the West Bank city of Ramallah, on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan August 17, 2012. (Reuters)


Israel deploys heavy security ahead of the last Friday prayers for Ramadan.


Under tight Israeli security, thousands of Palestinian worshippers started their journey to attend prayers on the last Friday of Ramadan in Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa mosque, Islam's third holiest shrine.

Israel imposed an age restriction for men - only those over 40 and under 12 were allowed to cross from the West Bank into Jerusalem. Women were not restricted by age.

Many Palestinians residing in the West Bank were turned back.

Palestinians describe the restrictions as collective punishment that has hit their economy and made travel difficult.

They complain that access to holy sites, especially during Ramadan, should be guaranteed by Israel, which has occupied Arab East Jerusalem and its Old City since 1967.

Israeli police say the restrictions are imposed for security reasons, in order to prevent attacks against the Jewish state, and that the restrictions have been lighter than in past years.

At the Israeli army's two main checkpoints between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, as well as QalandIya checkpoint separating Ramallah from Jerusalem, thousands of Palestinians still made the crossing, under the eye of Israeli troops checking identification cards.

Ramadan is the Muslim month of abstinence during daylight and is marked by festivities at night, with lanterns, balloons, firecrackers, feasts and visits to family and loved ones.

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