JERUSALEM (AFP) – More than 170,000 Muslims prayed outside Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque on Friday, as the holy month of Ramadan entered its final full week, police said.
The faithful turned out in droves to prostrate themselves in the vast Al-Aqsa compound within the walled Old City, police spokeswoman Luba Samri said.
Muslim religious authorities, however, told AFP the number was 300,000.
The compound, a flashpoint because of its significance to both Muslims and Jews, is several hundred metres (thousands of feet) long and wide and houses the Al-Aqsa and Dome of the Rock mosques.
Some 3,000 police were deployed to avoid confrontations between Muslims and Jews, who worship at the bottom of the Western Wall, right beneath the Al-Aqsa compound.
Tensions often run high in that part of the Old City, with Jews trying to enter the compound, sometimes in disguise, to venerate it as the site of the Temple Mount.
Jews are not allowed to pray inside the Al-Aqsa mosque compound.
The Israeli authorities relaxed usual restrictions on entry to Jerusalem by Palestinians in the West Bank for a second week, allowing access to women of all ages and men over 40 years old.
Palestinians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are usually barred from Israel and from east Jerusalem, which Israel occupied in the 1967 Six-Day war and then unilaterally annexed.