Israel seals off West Bank amid fears of fresh violence
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
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
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
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.