Over 90,000 at Temple Mount on first Friday of Ramadan
search

Over 90,000 at Temple Mount on first Friday of Ramadan

More than 2,000 Israeli Police and Border Police on duty throughout day; no incidents reported

  • Palestinian Muslim worshipers pray outside the Dome of the Rock at the al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem during the first Friday prayer of the holy month of Ramadan, on June 19, 2015. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)
    Palestinian Muslim worshipers pray outside the Dome of the Rock at the al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem during the first Friday prayer of the holy month of Ramadan, on June 19, 2015. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)
  • Palestinian Muslim worshipers pray outside the Dome of the Rock at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem during the first Friday prayer of the holy month of Ramadan, on June 19, 2015. (AFP/AHMAD GHARABLI)
    Palestinian Muslim worshipers pray outside the Dome of the Rock at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem during the first Friday prayer of the holy month of Ramadan, on June 19, 2015. (AFP/AHMAD GHARABLI)
  • A Palestinian vendor displays traditional lanterns known in Arabic as "Fanous" sold during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan at a market in Gaza City, on June 17, 2015, as the faithful prepare to start fasting. (AFP PHOTO/MAHMUD HAMS)
    A Palestinian vendor displays traditional lanterns known in Arabic as "Fanous" sold during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan at a market in Gaza City, on June 17, 2015, as the faithful prepare to start fasting. (AFP PHOTO/MAHMUD HAMS)
  • Palestinian children hold traditional lanterns known in Arabic as "Fanous" sold during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, as the faithful prepare for the start of the Muslim holy month, on June 17, 2015. (AFP PHOTO/SAID KHATIB)
    Palestinian children hold traditional lanterns known in Arabic as "Fanous" sold during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, as the faithful prepare for the start of the Muslim holy month, on June 17, 2015. (AFP PHOTO/SAID KHATIB)
  • A Palestinian boy celebrates with fireworks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, as the faithful prepare for the start of the Muslim holy month, on June 17, 2015. (AFP PHOTO/SAID KHATIB)
    A Palestinian boy celebrates with fireworks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, as the faithful prepare for the start of the Muslim holy month, on June 17, 2015. (AFP PHOTO/SAID KHATIB)
  • A Palestinian boy celebrates with fireworks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, as the faithful prepare for the start of the Muslim holy month, on June 17, 2015. (AFP PHOTO/SAID KHATIB)
    A Palestinian boy celebrates with fireworks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, as the faithful prepare for the start of the Muslim holy month, on June 17, 2015. (AFP PHOTO/SAID KHATIB)
  • A Palestinian boy sells fresh mint in downtown Gaza City as shoppers crowd the markets in preparation for the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan on June 17, 2015. (AFP PHOTO/MAHMUD HAMS)
    A Palestinian boy sells fresh mint in downtown Gaza City as shoppers crowd the markets in preparation for the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan on June 17, 2015. (AFP PHOTO/MAHMUD HAMS)
  • A Palestinian woman buys dates at a market in Gaza City as the faithful prepare for the start of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan on June 17, 2015. (AFP PHOTO/MAHMUD HAMS)
    A Palestinian woman buys dates at a market in Gaza City as the faithful prepare for the start of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan on June 17, 2015. (AFP PHOTO/MAHMUD HAMS)
  • A picture taken on June 16, 2015 shows an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man (C) walking as fairy lights decorate a shop near the entrance of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on the Temple Mount, in the old city of Jerusalem, as Muslims around the world prepare for the announcement of the fasting month of Ramadan. (AFP PHOTO/AHMAD GHARABLI)
    A picture taken on June 16, 2015 shows an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man (C) walking as fairy lights decorate a shop near the entrance of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on the Temple Mount, in the old city of Jerusalem, as Muslims around the world prepare for the announcement of the fasting month of Ramadan. (AFP PHOTO/AHMAD GHARABLI)
  • Illustrative. A Palestinian boy carries a lantern past shops in the Old City of Jerusalem on June 16, 2015.(AFP PHOTO/AHMAD GHARABLI)
    Illustrative. A Palestinian boy carries a lantern past shops in the Old City of Jerusalem on June 16, 2015.(AFP PHOTO/AHMAD GHARABLI)
  • People walk under lights decorating Damascus Gate outside the Old City of Jerusalem on June 16, 2015, as Muslims around the world prepare for the announcement of the fasting month of Ramadan. (AFP PHOTO/AHMAD GHARABLI)
    People walk under lights decorating Damascus Gate outside the Old City of Jerusalem on June 16, 2015, as Muslims around the world prepare for the announcement of the fasting month of Ramadan. (AFP PHOTO/AHMAD GHARABLI)
  • A Palestinian man decorates his shop with fairy lights near the entrance of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on the Temple Mount, in the Old City of Jerusalem, June 16, 2015, as Muslims around the world prepare for the announcement of the fasting month of Ramadan. (AFP PHOTO/AHMAD GHARABLI)
    A Palestinian man decorates his shop with fairy lights near the entrance of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on the Temple Mount, in the Old City of Jerusalem, June 16, 2015, as Muslims around the world prepare for the announcement of the fasting month of Ramadan. (AFP PHOTO/AHMAD GHARABLI)

Tens of thousands of Muslim worshippers streamed through Jerusalem’s Old City to the Temple Mount Friday as Israel eased restrictions for the fasting month of Ramadan.

Police said at least 90,000 people from east Jerusalem, Israel and the West Bank went to Al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third-holiest site, for Friday prayers, the first since this week’s start of Ramadan.

There were also 500 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip who were allowed rare permission to pray at the site, an Israeli official said.

They made their way through the Old City’s narrow alleyways and plazas, decorated in areas with lights and lanterns. Sellers hawked prayer mats to passing pilgrims.

Women of all ages and men aged 40 and over from the West Bank were allowed into Jerusalem without permits, normally required to cross checkpoints and exit the territory.

According to police, 48,000 Palestinians from the West Bank were among Friday’s visitors, compared to a few thousand on an average Friday.

Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, head of the Islamic Waqf which runs Al-Aqsa, told AFP he estimated 200,000 worshippers were in and around the compound.

Police and border guards were deployed in force with riot gear and assault rifles. Roads were cordoned off around the Old City and barricades were set up near the entrances to the mosque.

The prayers passed quietly and the crowds dispersed without incident, officials said.

White-robed men walked while twirling prayer beads, and veiled local women begged to pilgrims for alms.

Men and boys who had decorated their stores with gaudy flashing lights and blared Koranic recitations out of CD players sold sweets to pilgrims for the breaking of their fast after sundown.

“This is the holiest place for Muslims in Palestine, and we’re excited as always to make the journey,” said 64-year-old Ahmed from the West Bank city of Ramallah, preferring to give only his first name.”

“It took a while to get through the checkpoint at Qalandiya (between Ramallah and Jerusalem) but it was worth it,” he added.

This year was expected to mark the first time since the second Palestinian Intifada in the early 2000s that Israeli authorities permitted West Bank residents to take direct buses from Palestinian cities to the Al-Aqsa esplanade.

But the direct buses were not in place this Friday, with Major General Yoav Mordechai, head of the defence ministry unit which manages civilian affairs in the West Bank, saying it was “due to the lack of preparation of the Palestinian Authority.”

There was no immediate reaction from the Palestinian Authority.

read more:
less
comments
more