About 80,000 Muslims manage to enter Al-Aqsa Mosque to offer prayers on 1st Friday of Ramadan month

About 80,000 Muslims manage to enter Al-Aqsa Mosque to offer prayers on 1st Friday of Ramadan month

After Friday prayers, Muslims hold funeral prayers in absentia for victims of Israeli aggressive attacks on Gaza and West Bank

By Rania Abu Shamala

ISTANBUL (AA) – Despite Israel's restrictions, thousands of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank were able to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem on the first Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan to offer their weekly prayers in congregation while fasting.

“About 80,000 faithful performed Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque,” the Islamic Endowments Department in Jerusalem said in a statement.

Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, the prayer leader or Imam of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, praised Palestinian faithful for entering the mosque despite Israeli restrictions.

"Your blessed influx sends a message to those coveting the mosque that it does not accept division and belongs solely to Muslims, with no room for negotiation or relinquishing any part of it," he told the congregation.

Sabri urged Muslims to come to Al-Aqsa Mosque, saying, "If prevented, prayers can be performed at the point reached by the faithful, with the reward of praying at Al-Aqsa."

He criticized the “silence of some Arab and Islamic countries on the Israeli war on Gaza, with some contenting themselves with statements of condemnation and denunciation.”

The Israeli broadcasting authority reported that “3,000 police officers were deployed in the city.”

Eyewitnesses told Anadolu that the Israeli army prevented tens of thousands of Palestinians from reaching Al-Aqsa through checkpoints in Jerusalem.

Since early in the morning, large forces of Israeli police were deployed in the city's streets, particularly in the Old City and its alleys, as well as around Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Palestinians from Jerusalem, Arab cities, and towns in Israel flocked to Al-Aqsa, while Palestinian law enforcement, scout, guard, and support teams were deployed to assist them.

After the Friday prayers, Muslims held funeral prayers in absentia for victims of Israeli aggressive attacks on Gaza and the West Bank.

On Monday, the Israeli government announced that "during the Fridays throughout the month of Ramadan, people from Judea and Samaria (the Torah name for the West Bank) will be allowed to enter Jerusalem subject to possessing a valid magnetic (security) permit and assessing the security situation."

The army added that only men over the age of 55, women over the age of 50, and children under the age of 10 will be allowed entry.

Since the outbreak of the war on Gaza on Oct. 7, 2023, police have closed all checkpoints around East Jerusalem to residents of the West Bank.

Israel launched its war on Gaza after a Oct. 7 cross-border incursion by Hamas. It has since killed more than 31,300 Palestinians and pushed the territory to the brink of famine.

Israel has also imposed a crippling blockade on the Palestinian enclave, leaving its population, particularly residents of northern Gaza, on the verge of starvation.

The war has pushed 85% of Gaza’s population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water, and medicine, while most of the enclave's infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice, which in an interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.


*Writing by Rania Abu Shamala​​​​​​​

About 80,000 Muslims manage to enter Al-Aqsa Mosque to offer prayers on 1st Friday of Ramadan month

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