Around 200,000 Muslims attend Eid al-Fitr holiday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque to cap off the Ramadan holy month, according to the Islamic Waqf.
“There were more worshipers than we’ve seen for Eid al-Fitr prayers for many years,” Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani, the holy site’s chief imam, says in a phone call.
Al-Kiswani says most of those who arrived to pray today were likely Jerusalemites, as no special orders had been issued to allow West Bank Palestinians to attend. He attributes the high turnout to recent clashes at the sacred hilltop, which Jews revere as the Temple Mount, their holiest site.
Palestinian rioters hurled stones at Israeli police at the site on several occasions over the past month. Israeli forces responded with sponge-tipped bullets, tear gas and sound grenades, injuring hundreds. Similar violence helped spark a war between Israel and Hamas terrorists last May.
“People wanted to send a message that Al-Aqsa is the inviolate right of Muslims,” al-Kiswani says.