Israel lifts holy shrine ban

Muslim prayers at a major Jerusalem shrine, which has been the epicentre of weeks of unrest, ended peacefully after Israel lifted restrictions on the entry of worshippers in an apparent bid to ease tensions.

The decision to allow Muslims of all ages to pray at the site coincided with a diplomatic push by US secretary of state John Kerry to restore calm. The push includes getting all sides to agree on the ground rules at the Muslim-run shrine and prevent future tensions.

Mr Kerry is meeting this weekend with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, custodian of the holy site, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, after holding talks Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The current round of violence erupted in mid-September, with clashes at the Jerusalem shrine, which spread to the rest of the city, the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Confrontations erupted on the Israel-Gaza border yesterday, with the two sides separated by a border fence. Two Palestinians were injured by army fire, Gaza health officials said. The military said soldiers initially fired warning shots.

Earlier, a Palestinian stabbed a soldier in the West Bank and was shot by troops, the military said. Both were wounded. In the past five weeks, 10 Israelis have been killed in Palestinian attacks. Forty-eight Palestinians have been killed by Israel.


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