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Members of the Israeli security forces stand guard in the old city of Occupied Jerusalem as Palestinians head toward Al Haram Al Sharif to take part in the Friday prayers, on January 31, 2020. Image Credit: AFP

Occupied Jerusalem: Israeli occupation police increased their presence in Occupied Jerusalem’s Old City, ahead of the first Friday prayers at Al Haram Al Sharif — which houses the Al Aqsa mosque — since US President Donald Trump unveiled a controversial peace plan.

The plan released on Tuesday was seen as heavily biased towards Israel and was angrily rejected by Palestinians, with one of the key bones of contention being its classification of Occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s “undivided capital.”

Palestinians have long seen the city’s eastern sector, which was occupied by Israel in 1967, as the capital of their future state.

At Al Haram Al Sharif in east Jerusalem, a group of Palestinians gathered after dawn prayers and “began a procession with nationalist calls,” Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

Police “responded and dispersed the gathering,” the spokesman added.

Thousands of Palestinians attended the main prayers at noon, which are often a rallying point for demonstrations.

The Al-Aqsa mosque is Islam’s third holiest site but is also revered by Jews as the location of their Second Temple, destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.

Rosenfeld said “heightened security” measures would be in place across the Old City and “police units will respond if necessary”.

Biased plan

The Trump plan gives Israel the green light to annex the strategic Jordan Valley, which constitutes some 30 per cent of the West Bank, as well as all Israeli colonies, which now number more than 200, including those in Occupied east Jerusalem.

The colonies are home to some 600,000 Israelis but are considered illegal under international law.

Clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces in the West Bank have left at least 30 Palestinians wounded since Tuesday, although the demonstrations have mostly been small.

In Hamas-controlled Gaza, thousands gathered for demonstrations this week.

Many more donned badges proclaiming “no to the deal of the century”.