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Tense calm continues at Al-Aqsa

After weeks of violence and protests, Israel has eased entry restrictions to Al-Aqsa Mosque to de-escalate the tensions there.
Israeli police officers stand guard on the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City November 5, 2014. As Jordan joins a military campaign against Islamic State militants in Syria, tensions in Jerusalem pose a potentially bigger risk to a nation only slightly scathed by the turmoil sweeping the Middle East. Picture taken November 5, 2014.

Driving from Bethlehem to Jerusalem on Nov. 13, the 10 a.m. news report on Jordan radio was reassuring. After noting the meeting of King Abdullah, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, it announced that all had agreed to soothe tensions in Jerusalem and that entry to Al-Aqsa for the faithful would be eased.

I was planning to go to Al-Aqsa, but was unsure whether to believe the news. The scene outside Damascus Gate that morning was not reassuring. I counted at least 10 large Israeli police vehicles and saw dozens of policemen preparing themselves for a battle. Israeli police on four horses went by in an additional show of force. I waited for the 10:30 news on Israel radio in Arabic, but that report focused mostly on the latest controversy between the heads of the Israeli army and police over who knew what before the Gaza war.

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