Muslims perform the first Friday prayers of the month of Ramadan at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on March 24, 2023. Photo/Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency
JERUSALEM – The first Friday prayers of the month of Ramadan took place peacefully despite the tight security imposed after months of escalating tensions and violence.
Reuters news agency reported crowds of worshipers that Friday.
“I can’t explain to you how happy I am praying at Al-Aqsa Mosque. I am 50 years old and they just lifted the security ban that prevented me from coming here,” said Nasser Abu Saleh, a resident of the West Bank city of Hebron.
The mosque complex, a site holy to both Muslims and Jews, known as the Temple Mount, has a long history of confrontation.
Those clashes include an incident in 2021 that sparked a 10-day war between Israel and Gaza’s ruling resistance movement, Hamas.
Worshipers flock to the mosque, which is located in Jerusalem’s Old City, at noon 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 occupied Palestinian territories. West entered Jerusalem without military permission.
The Muslim Waqf, the custodian who manages the site that houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque, said about 100,000 people had visited for the first Friday prayers of Ramadan.
During Friday prayers, worshipers stand shoulder to shoulder in the complex, which also houses the golden Dome of the Rock where the Prophet Muhammad is said to have Mi’raj.
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