Thousands of Muslim worshipers flocked to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque on the first Friday of Ramadan for midday prayers, which passed peacefully amid tight security imposed after months of escalating tension and violence. Reuters reports.
“I cannot describe to you how happy I am praying at Al-Aqsa Mosque. I am 50 years old and only recently they lifted the security ban that prevented me from from coming here,” said Nasser Abu Saleh, a resident of the. The city of Hebron in the West Bank.
The mosque complex, a holy site for both Muslims and Jews, known as the Temple Mount, has a long history of conflict, including incidents in 2021 that fueled a 10-day war between Israel and the Gaza resistance movement, Hamas. to inspire.
Worshipers streamed into the mosque, located in Jerusalem’s walled Old City, during the day after Israel announced on Monday that it would allow Palestinian men over 55, women of all ages and children under 12 to travel from the West Bank persuaded to enter Jerusalem without military. – permits issued.
The Muslim Waqf, curators who manage the site where the Al-Aqsa Mosque is located, said that about 100,000 people visited the first Friday prayers of Ramadan.
At midday prayers, worshipers standing shoulder to shoulder lined the compound, which also houses the golden Dome of the Rock where the Prophet Mohammad is said to have ascended to heaven.
Major General Ghassan Aliyan of COGAT, a unit in the Israeli Defense Ministry that coordinates civil issues with Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, said that the Israeli authorities were doing everything they could to prevent any trouble.
“All parties are interested in seeing the month of Ramadan pass peacefully by all means,” he said.
On Sunday, Israeli and Palestinian officials made pledges to de-escalate the violence, meeting in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.
Conflict has been on the rise in the West Bank in recent months, with almost daily Israeli military raids and increasing violence by Jewish settlers, amid attacks by Palestinians.
Israeli security forces are on high alert and police said thousands of officers were deployed across Jerusalem on Friday.
During Ramadan, which began in Israel and the Palestinian Territories on Thursday and lasts a month, Muslims abstain from eating and drinking during daylight hours.
It partly coincides this year with Passover and Easter, which has raised concerns about a resurgence of violent clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians seen in previous years.
In recent years, the Palestinians and Arab governments have emphasized the need to maintain a decades-old status quo that prohibits non-Muslim worship at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, after accusations that Israel was allowing Jews to pray at the site. Israel says there is no change in the status quo.
Israel captured East Jerusalem, where the Old City is located, in a 1967 war and later annexed it in an internationally unrecognized move. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of the future State of Palestine.
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