Muslims walk past Jerusalem’s Dome of Rock before dawn on May 31 for the first limited group prayer since the coronavirus pandemic led to strict lockdowns starting in March. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images)

Jerusalem Holy Site Reopens for Muslim Prayer amid New Tensions

Following more than two months of pandemic lockdown, Israeli health and security authorities on Sunday morning allowed the reopening of Jerusalem’s Haram al-Sharif, Islam’s third-holiest site, for limited prayer. The faithful will be allowed to gather for outside the two primary structures, the Dome of the Rock and the Aqsa Mosque, in open areas that can capacitate up to 50 people. Also known as the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, the plaza is often a flashpoint for tensions over who has rights to what, and who can ascend. The latest tensions, however, have to do with fallout from Saturday’s police shooting death of an autistic Palestinian man elsewhere in the Old City. Police say 32-year-old Iyad Halak appeared to be approaching them with a suspicious item in his hand and ran when security forces shouted out a warning and gave chase. He was later cornered and shot. He was found to be unarmed and on his way to a program for people with special needs. One of the Israeli officers has been placed under house arrest pending outcome of an investigation.

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