11/21/2014, 00.00
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Jerusalem: calm returns to the Esplanade of the Mosques

Israeli police drops age limit on men visiting the holy place. For now, things are under control. A spate of attacks shake but do not break the calm. PM Netanyahu attacks mayor of Ashkelon for banning Arab workers from his town.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - An apparent calm prevails today in Jerusalem after weeks of clashes and violence between Israeli and Palestinian extremists.

For the second week in a row, Israeli police did not impose age restrictions on Muslim men visiting the al-Aqsa Mosque on Temple Mount.

The site, which is sacred to both Muslims and Jews, was at the centre of violence following a campaign by ultra-nationalist Israelis to change the status quo, which allows Jews to visit but not to pray near the mosques. Still, tensions remain very tense.

The mayor of Ashkelon Itamar Shimoni wrote on his Facebook page that he was freezing "until further notice" a programme to build bomb shelters for kindergartens where Arab workers were employed.

He did not specify whether this was aimed at both Israeli Arabs or Palestinians or just the latter, but it sparked controversy and accusations of racism forcing Prime Minister Netanyahu to intervene.

"There can be no discrimination against Arab Israelis," Netanyahu said in a statement slamming the mayor's order, stressing the "full equality before the law of every citizen regardless of religion, race or sex." He did not say anything about Palestinian workers from the Territories.

Meanwhile, civilians, not only politicians seem to have fallen prey to hatred and fear.

In Jerusalem, four Israeli girls attacked a Palestinian taxi driver with pepper spray in King George Street. Another Palestinians later said he was attacked by a group of Israeli girls in central Jerusalem.

Police arrested eventually arrested the girls, from a West Bank settlement, and a judge banned them from the city for 15 for they wanton attack.

In northern Israel, unknown assailants threw acid at the car of an Imam in Acre. An Israeli police spokesman said they are looking into the background of the incident.

A 53-year-old man was arrested near Haifa after threatening Palestinian workers with a knife. One of the workers disarmed at the restaurant the man, who was arrested by police.

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