Muslim access banned in Jerusalem amid tensions

Israel banned Muslim men under the age of 50 from a contested Jerusalem shrine Friday, ahead of expected protests over the installation of metal detectors there.

About 3,000 officers were deployed around the Old City, barring entry to Muslim men under the age of 50, except for area residents. The age restrictions and police deployment came hours after Israel's security Cabinet decided not to overrule an earlier police decision to install metal detectors at the gates to the walled compound.

The metal detectors are perceived by the Palestinians as an encroachment on Muslim rights and portrayed by Israel as a needed security measure following the attack that killed two Israeli policemen.

Israel has denied such allegations, arguing that metal detectors are routine security devices.

Jerusalem's top Muslim cleric, Mohammed Hussein, said protests, including mass street prayers outside the shrine, would continue until the devices are removed. He told worshippers Friday that they should prepare for a "long test of wills" with Israel.

"We will not back off," he said.

Israel also faced growing criticism from the Muslim world, and thousands staged anti-Israel protests after Friday prayers in Jordan and Yemen. Turkey and Egypt also condemned the violence.

The confrontations could escalate in coming days as both sides dig in.

 
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