Men under 50 have been banned from attending al-Aqsa mosque


Israel has reintroduced a ban on male worshippers under the age of 50 entering the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem for Friday prayers.

The police announced the ban as part of a more general increase in security in the Old City:

"It has been decided to limit the age of worshippers allowed entry to the Temple Mount to men over 50," they said. "Entry of women of all ages will be allowed."

The decision announced last night by Israeli police follows an earlier announcement on Thursday barring members of parliament from visiting the site.

Netanyahu said the intention was to reduce tensions that have been building around the site, but Muslim members of the Knesset have already said they will not comply.

Israeli police previously imposed entry bans to the mosque on 4 October, limiting access to the site to Israelis, tourists, residents of the area, business owners and school children.

The prime minister has said he will not alter the status-quo at the site, including a prohibition on non-Muslim prayer, but Muslim leaders remain concerned that Israel plans to divide the compound.

An Arab Israeli lawmaker, Jamal Zahalka was denied access to the site on Thursday, but remains defiant that he will visit Al-asqa.

"Netanyahu is not the king, not the law, and I don't give a hoot about his decision," Zahalka said, according to the New York Times.

"The fact that there is a government decision still does not mean there is a court order forbidding me from going in, and I intend to enter."