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Over 100,000 Muslim worshipers gather on Temple Mount for nighttime prayers

Police say mass prayer event for Qadr Night proceeds as planned; thousands of officers deployed to Jerusalem’s Old City amid high tensions in recent weeks

Palestinian Muslim worshippers pray on Laylat al-Qadr, Night of Destiny, in the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on April 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
Palestinian Muslim worshippers pray on Laylat al-Qadr, Night of Destiny, in the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on April 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

Over 100,000 Muslim worshipers took part in mass prayers on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem Wednesday evening on one of the few remaining nights before the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on May 1.

Worshipers were gathered on Wednesday night for Laylat al-Qadr (Night of Destiny) when Muslims believe the first verses of the Quran were revealed to Muhammad. Worshipers gather for intense nighttime prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Thousands of police were deployed to Jerusalem’s Old City ahead of the prayers Wednesday and into Thursday on the compound, where officials have been trying to prevent a flare-up of violence for several weeks.

Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai held a security assessment with Jerusalem police officials Wednesday evening, according to the Israel Police. The prayers were proceeding as planned, the police said.

The Temple Mount, known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif or the Al-Aqsa complex, is the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam. Over the past few weeks, it has been the site of riots and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police, during heightened tensions as Muslims mark Ramadan and Jews observed Passover.

Earlier Wednesday, the Axios news site reported that Israeli and Jordanian officials were soon expected to meet to discuss efforts to prevent a violent flare-up surrounding the compound.

Muslim worshipers pray on Laylat al-Qadr, Night of Destiny, in the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan on April 27, 2022.(HAZEM BADER / AFP)

Jordan, which oversees the flashpoint site via its control of the Waqf Islamic endowment that administers the compound, has been sharply and repeatedly critical in recent weeks of the behavior of Israeli security forces atop the Temple Mount.

According to the report, which cites three unnamed Israeli and Western sources, a joint committee will convene after Ramadan in a bid to reach an agreement on how to lower tensions at the holy site and prevent any violent incidents there.

According to the report, one of Amman’s main demands is expected to be for Israel to allow more unarmed guards at the Temple Mount on behalf of the Waqf.

On Sunday, Jordan’s King Abdullah met in Cairo with Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh el-Sissi and United Arab Emirates Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, with tensions in Jerusalem at the top of the agenda.

The monarch was set to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday night.

Jordan has accused Israel of violating the status quo at the site, under which Muslims are allowed to visit and pray while Jews cannot pray and may only visit during restricted time slots.

Palestinian Muslim worshipers pray on Laylat al-Qadr, Night of Destiny, in the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on April 27, 2022.(HAZEM BADER / AFP)

In a briefing to journalists last week, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid reiterated that Israel is fully committed to maintaining the status quo at the site.

But Jordan and other Arab allies have chafed at Israeli calls to maintain “freedom of worship” at the site, which some have interpreted as allowing Jewish prayer atop the Temple Mount, something seen as a major escalation.

Hebrew media reports have often documented Jewish visitors to the site quietly praying under their breath while Israeli security forces look the other way. Israel has averred that such instances are not sanctioned and are not part of any shift in policy.

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