By Abdelraouf Arnaout
JERUSALEM (AA) - Thousands of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank marched to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem to mark the first Friday prayers of the fasting month of Ramadan, despite restrictions imposed by Israel.
“About 100,000 worshipers performed Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Sheikh Azzam Al-Khatib, Director General of the Islamic Endowments Department in Jerusalem, told Anadolu.
Israeli police have been deployed since morning in the streets of the city, especially the Old City and its alleys, and the vicinity of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Israeli police said it deployed “over 2,300 Jerusalem District police officers, border police officers, and other reinforcements” in East Jerusalem.
It said that it would allow a very small number of Gazans who obtained permits to enter East Jerusalem during the month of Ramadan.
Israel issued a decision Monday regarding the entry of West Bank residents to East Jerusalem to perform Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Women of all ages, male children up to 12 years old and men older than 55 will be allowed to enter Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan without a permit.
Israel, however, imposed a permit on men from 45 - 55 years old.
Tension has been rising across the occupied West Bank in recent months amid repeated Israeli military raids into Palestinian towns.
*Ikram Kouachi contributed to this report