Israel seals off West Bank amid fears of fresh violence
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Last Updated: Friday, March 12, 2010, 21:36
Jerusalem: Amid fears of fresh violence erupting over its controversial building plans in East Jerusalem, Israel on Friday sealed off the West Bank to prevent Palestinians from entering the country.

Heightening security arrangements to also prevent tempers flaring during Friday prayers at the Al Aqsa mosque,?Israeli police barred men under the age of 50 from prayers at the site, which is holy to both Muslims and Jews.

The decision to impose a closure on West Bank till tomorrow evening was taken by Defence Minister Ehud Barak as a pre-emtive measure in view of discontent among Palestinians over Israel's interior ministry's announcement earlier this week to construct 1,600 housing units in East Jerusalem.

Barak said the closure will be lifted "in accordance to security assessments".

Meanwhile, a few isolated incidents of stone pelting by Palestinian youths were reported, but the?prayers passed off peacefully. Four young Palestinians were arrested for hurling stones in the Old City, which houses the holy mosque,?police said.

Israeli forces used stun grenades to disperse the protesters, one of whom threw a brick that smashed the windscreen of a car in which a family of Jewish settlers was travelling.

Since the outbreak of the second Palestinian uprising in September 2000 at the Temple Mount, referred?by Muslims as Haram al-Sharif or the Noble Sanctuary, that houses the al-Aqsa mosque, Israel has sealed off the West Bank ahead of major holidays, but only rarely on other occasions.


First Published: Friday, March 12, 2010, 21:36

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