By Salam Abu Sharar
JERUSALEM (AA) - After one month of a partial lockdown of Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Palestinians flocked to the mosque to pray the first Friday prayer.
The Israeli government closed the mosque partially last month as a precautionary measure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while the decision excluded the Palestinians living in the old city of Jerusalem and who were allowed to pray at the mosque with a high level of restrictions.
Aya Amro, 23, from Jerusalem, entered the mosque on Friday to pray for the first time in a month.
“I really have a good feeling about seeing Al-Aqsa full of prayers. After one month, it was empty because of lockdown. It’s not just a holy place for us, it’s the space of happiness and sharing lovely social moments,” Aya told Anadolu Agency who used to meet with her friends after the weekly prayer before the lockdown.
The Palestinians in Jerusalem are lacking places of walking and picnics due to economic and social marginalization policy applied by the Israeli government, so the holy mosque is a social space for them.
Issa Qawasmi, 58, a writer and photographer, has been deprived of his unique habits, with the place closed for a month.
Issa used to take daily photos for the mosque details and stories of people there during prayer times.
The lockdown of Al-Aqsa Mosque adversely affected the commercial situation in the old city of Jerusalem.
The old city was completely isolated from the Palestinians, while the settlers were moving easily there during the lockdown, Issa said.
“Al-Aqsa opening today [helped] revival of the economic life in the old city after five Fridays of lockdown. The markets are full of people as a result of allowing all Palestinians in Jerusalem to enter Al-Aqsa and pray,” Issa added.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians went to the holy city to pray today.
During the lockdown, the settlers continued storming Al-Aqsa compound daily under the protection of the Israeli police.
But the most provoking for the Palestinians was the visits of Arab delegations that came during a path of normalization among some Arab countries and Israel.
The violations during the lockdown did not stop as the Israeli forces arrested many mosque guards and prayers, and the Israeli intelligence service took administrative decisions against them for deportation.
* Writing by Mahmoud Barakat in Ankara