Jerusalem, Mar 31 (EFE). Around 250,000 Muslims offered prayers at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound on the second Friday of Ramadan, during which around 70,000 Palestinians from the occupied West Bank were allowed to travel to the holy city, even as the holy month for Muslims has remained relatively calm in Israel so far.
Like every year, Israeli authorities have allowed Palestinian women of all ages, children up to the age of 12 and men older than 55 to enter Jerusalem for the afternoon prayers on Fridays during Ramadan.
The devotees can be stopped if they have a security restriction against their name, while the passage of thousands of people from West Bank to Jerusalem results in huge queues at Israeli military check-posts, as covered this Friday in photos circulated on social networks and local media.
Palestinian and Israeli media reported that thousands of people passed through military check-posts and used buses and other vehicles to reach Jerusalem, the third holiest city in Islam, from other parts of the country, especially the city of Ramallah in West Bank.
The Al-Aqsa compound in occupied East Jerusalem is the meeting point for around 350,000 Palestinians living in the holy city, as well as tens of thousands of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship who travel from other parts of Israel, along with the Palestinian population of the West Bank.
Israel also allows access to some residents of Gaza – which is under a permanent Israeli blockade – during Ramadan, but at a much smaller scale.
The compound – which is called Temple Mount by Jews and considered the holiest site in Judaism – has become a symbol of the Palestinian cause and is one of the epicenters of the Palestine-Israel conflict.
As per the Muslim tradition, the sanctuary has been built on the spot where Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven.
In recent years, the site has witnessed repeated clashes between Palestinian devotees and Israeli security forces, with the violence escalating during Ramadan and subsequent weeks.
This year, the holy month has been largely peaceful, while Israeli forces have strengthen security in Jerusalem and West bank, with around 2,300 police officers being deployed.
On the other hand, 2023 has witnessed the deadliest first three months of the year for the conflict since 2020, as 88 Palestinians have been killed in different incidents of violence since the beginning of the year, while 15 Israelis have also died in attacks and clashes.
Israel has occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem since 1967, imposing military and civil regulations affecting the entire Palestinian population. EFE