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Israeli police lift Aqsa restrictions for Muslims on Eid

Unrestricted access during Eid holiday comes after Palestinian president warned of potential for third intifada if tensions rise
Muslims perform prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque during the first day of the Eid Al Adha in Jerusalem on Thursday (AA)

Access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex will be unrestricted for Muslims during Eid al-Adha holiday on Thursday and closed to Jews and other visitors, Israeli police announced late Wednesday.

Palestinians from the West Bank, which was sealed for 36 hours earlier this week during the Yom Kippur holiday, will also be permitted to visit the complex known to Jews as Temple Mount, Haaretz reported.

The announcement comes after clashes that erupted at the site last week when Israeli police, over three consecutive days, raided the mosque, saying they had received warnings that youth inside were planning attacks on Jews visiting for the Jewish New Year.

Last Friday, Palestinians held protests in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in reaction to the tensions at Aqsa, resulting in clashes between demonstrators and Israeli police and Palestinian Authority security forces.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned on Tuesday that continued Israeli violations and attacks on the compound could cause the outbreak of a third intifada.

"What is happening is very serious," Abbas said, urging Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to put an end to these "practices", warning of "chaos" and the outbreak of an "intifada that we do not want."

"Israel is trying to divide the Al-Aqsa Mosque between Muslims and Jews, I mean worship places and time," he said.

A young boy holds up a peace sign as others pray (MEE / Faiz Abu Rmeleh)

In recent years, Israeli authorities have regularly imposed restrictions on Muslims entering the compound, but the evacuation of the mosque that kicked off the consecutive days of raids was unprecedented and represents an increasing Israeli attempt to control the site, Knesset member Jamal Zahalka told MEE.

"Before 10 years ago, it was crazy to say that Jews go to pray in Aqsa. Now it has become mainstream ... we were shocked that they closed the doors. Now, it is a daily regulation to close the doors until the Jewish group finishes their tour," Zahalka said. "There are small changes here and there and that is the point."

For Muslims, the mosque represents the third holiest site in the world. In the Jewish faith, the area is referred to as the Temple Mount, the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.