Israel lifts age restrictions for Muslim prayers in Temple Mount

Jerusalem : Israeli police have lifted age restrictions in force for weeks prohibiting younger Muslims from accessing the Temple Mount compound and the al Aqsa mosque for Friday prayers, media reported.

The restrictions, which had been applied to men and women under age 35, were lifted Friday a few hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Amman to confer with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and US Secretary of State John Kerry, to discuss ways of reducing tensions in Jerusalem.

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Tensions have been escalating since the murder in July of a teenage Palestinian boy at the hands of three extremist Jews who were avenging the murder of three Israeli students by militant Islamists three weeks earlier.

The situation worsened after Palestinians recently carried out hit-and-run attacks on random civilians that resulted in the death of three Israelis and an Ecuadorean woman in East Jerusalem, and the attempted murder of an ultra-nationalist rabbi.

In retaliation, Israel imposed restrictions on Palestinians seeking to enter the Temple Mount, the third holiest site for Muslims, while visits by ultra-nationalist Jews to areas outside the mosque compound were allowed to continue, leading to further Palestinian unrest.

Ultra-nationalist Jews seek to change the status of the Temple Mount, which is administered by Jordanian authorities and protected by Israeli forces under an agreement signed in 1967.

According to Jewish law, praying on the Temple Mount, as ultra-nationalist Jews seek to do, is forbidden until the return of the Messiah, who it is said will rebuild the temple that was destroyed by the Romans nearly 2000 years ago.