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JERUSALEM - Muslims prayed on a rainy street in the Old City Friday as Israeli authorities continued to restrict access to the Al Aqsa mosque following violence in east Jerusalem. Border police increased their presence in the cobblestone alleyways and around the Muslim access points or gates into the Al Aqsa compound, checking identification papers closely. Worshippers over the age of 50 were allowed inside, a day after the entire site was closed off in a security lockdown.
“Yesterday it was painful for me not to pray in Al Aqsa,” said Nahil Salayme, 42, from east Jerusalem. “I go every day. They want to take this place from us. I will never let it happen, I will sacrifice everything, even my children. This is a red line for us.” Nabih Al Basty, 49, a businessman, said: “I prayed today in the street because the Israelis aren't allowing us to go inside. We walked all the way from Wadi Joz, it's a long way and it's raining. My father is 70, he's been going to the mosque every day since he was seven. Yesterday was the first day he missed going.”
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas described Thursday’s closure as "tantamount to a declaration of war" by Israel and called for a "day of rage" in Jerusalem in protest. However the rainfall – the first in Jerusalem for weeks – seemed likely to dampen any protests.