JERUSALEM: Thousands of Palestinians from the Israeli-occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem — and from Arab towns inside Israel — converged on Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque on the last Friday of the Ramadan fasting month.
Ahmed Baidon, 47, from the West Bank city of Salfit, told Anadolu Agency: “I want to spend the last Friday of Ramadan praying at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and break my fast in the mosque’s courtyards.”
Firas al-Dibs, a spokesman for Jerusalem’s Religious Affairs Authority, told Anadolu Agency that as many as 280,000 worshippers attended Friday prayers at the iconic mosque.
Only men over 40 and children under 13 — along with women of all ages — were allowed by the Israeli army to enter East Jerusalem without entry permits.
Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, meanwhile, were banned — for the fourth consecutive week — from attending prayers at Al-Aqsa.
The Israeli authorities stepped up security in and around the flashpoint religious site, deploying hundreds of police and erecting roadblocks at the entrances of Jerusalem’s Old City.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Middle East War.
It annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as the “unified” capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state — a move never recognized by the international community.
International law continues to view the West Bank and East Jerusalem as “occupied territories”.