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Israel arrests top Palestinian cleric in Jerusalem


18:20, May 08, 2013

RAMALLAH, May 8 (Xinhua) -- Israeli police on Wednesday arrested the top Palestinian Muslim Mufti from his house in Jerusalem and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for his immediate release.

The Israeli police broke into the house of Sheikh Mohammed Hussein in East Jerusalem and took him to the police station for interrogation, said Azzam Al-Khatib, director of Islamic endowments in Jerusalem.

He added that the Mufti would be interrogated over the tension in the Temple Mount, where Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest shrine in Islam, is located.

On Tuesday, Muslim worshipers throw stones and chairs at Jewish visitors who made their way to the Temple Mount compound.

The Israeli police beefed up security in the Old City of Jerusalem, denying entry to Palestinians aged under 40 years and young female students seeking Islamic lessons outside the mosque.

This came as Jewish group planned activities to mark the 46th anniversary of Jerusalem's reunification, which refers to the Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem to turn the city as Israel's capital.

The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as capital for their future state.

In a statement on the Palestinian official news agency, President Abbas condemned the detention of the Mufti and urged Israel to release him immediately. "This is a stark challenge to the freedom of worship," Abbas said.

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