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Jerusalem’s Mufti Mohammed Hussein posing in front of the Dome of the Rock mosque at the Al Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City

Jerusalem’s Mufti Mohammed Hussein posing in front of the Dome of the Rock mosque at the Al Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City

Clashes erupted outside Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque compound on Sunday as Israeli authorities implemented new security measures at the Mosque entrance.

Friday noon prayers mark the highlight of the Muslim religious week.

At all 10 gates open to Muslims only, there is "no security check whatsoever, only a cursory glance to ensure that no non-Muslim attempts to sneak in", Olmert, who at times has visited the site several times a week, wrote on Facebook.

It was the first time in 50 years that Israel closed the compound, which is Islam's third holiest site.

"Anyone who thinks that there is anything to be achieved through terror at a holy place of worship is bitterly deluded", Barkat said.

Palestinian worshippers on Sunday refused to enter the holy site for midday prayers after metal detectors and cameras were added to the compound's gates.

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Hussein's son Jihad Hussein told AFP his father had been taken to a police station near the Old City.

Ignoring nearly completely the unprovoked attack on the policemen, Muslim leaders from Israel and from across the Arab world accused the Jewish state of moving the region closer to religious conflict.

Hours after the early morning shootout, Israeli forces still blocked access to the mosque area because of security concerns.

The prayer eventually turned into a rally as the demonstrators chanted: "God is great!" and "Al-Aqsa belongs to the Muslims!"

Police said the attackers were Israeli Arabs.

"The path to peace, for which both Israelis and Palestinians yearn, can not be paved with violence", the US bishops said.

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He made the statements in reaction to Israel's decision to close the al-Aqsa Mosque compound to the Palestinian worshipers on Friday.

Benjamin Netanyahu says the Muslim-administered sacred compound will be shut Friday for security reasons to make sure there are no weapons there.

Palestinians have long feared what they see as Israeli moves to change the status quo at the holy site.

Police gave chase and the assailants were shot dead at the compound.

Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan summed it up by saying, "Live fire from inside the Temple Mount crosses every red line".

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