Temple Mount to reopen, but with restrictions


WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Temple Mount will reopen immediately to Muslim worshippers, the Israel Police said following security assessments.

The announcement on Thursday evening came soon after the Obama administration called on Israel to reopen the area to Muslim worshippers.

Entrance to Muslims for Friday prayers, however, will be restricted to men over the age of 50.

Israel closed the site on Thursday in the wake of the attempted assassination of an activist who advocates Jewish worship on the mount, the holiest site in Judaism. Also called Haram al-Sharif, the site is considered the third holiest in Islam.

“The continued commitment by Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians to preserve the historic status quo at this holy site is critical; any decisions or actions to change it would be provocative and dangerous,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Thursday, referring to the closure.

Since capturing the holy site during the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel has severely restricted access for Jewish worshippers, in part not to inflame tensions. The status quo continues to restrict Jewish worship on the mount.

Instead, Jewish worshippers continue to pray at the adjacent Western Wall, the most substantial remnant of the Second Temple destroyed in the first century C.E.

Rabbi Yehuda Glick, the activist who is still in serious condition from the shooting on Wednesday, leads a group that advocates for wider Jewish access to the Temple Mount.

Psaki condemned the shooting of Glick, a U.S. citizen, and said Secretary of State John Kerry would contact Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu within the next day in part to address tensions in Jerusalem.

The United States had not changed its support for the status quo, she said.

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