At Al-Aqsa Mosque Over 180,000 Muslims Prayed Peacefully on the First Friday of Ramadan

There was better coordination between Israeli and Palestinian authorities

A large gathering of Muslims, estimated to be in tens of thousands, prayed without any disturbance at the compound of the Al-Aqsa Mosque on May 10. Many of those attending prayers came from the West Bank. The May 10 Friday was the first Friday in Ramadan month, the holiest month in Islam. The Islamic Endowment Department head of public relations Firas Al-Dibs said that over 180,000 Muslim worshippers traveled to Al-Aqsa to offer their Friday prayers. The numbers were 50 percent more compared to 2018 when approximately 120,000 faithful attended the prayers on the first Friday.

According to Al-Dibs, the Muslim worshippers came not only from Jerusalem City and West Bank but also from many Arab countries like Turkey and Jordan. Several Indonesian pilgrims were also spotted. As per a statement made by the Israel Police, hundreds of Border Police and officers were on duty to make sure that the huge influx of worshippers into Israeli territory was a smooth one. Israeli law enforcement made sure that worshippers could reach their destinations and prevent several untoward incidents all through the day. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said that they were banned from entering the Al-Aqsa compound by Israeli police forces. The PRCS crew were stopped at the entrance. The reason for such a ban remains unknown, and thus the PRCS crews were prevented from offering medical care to any person suffering from overcrowding and heat.

Matters, for most worshippers, went smoothly. Media persons at the Qalandiya checkpoint sandwiched between West Bank and Jerusalem witnessed thousands of Palestinians, which included individuals who used wheelchairs, queuing up to enter Jerusalem during the early Friday morning hours. Palestinian residents living in the West Bank are generally not permitted to visit Israel or East Jerusalem without the all-important Israeli-issued permit. Only during Ramadan, the permit restrictions are relaxed a little, specifically for women. The thousands who do get permits continue to suffer long waits and thorough searches by the Israel military. As per media reports, coordination between Israeli and Palestinian authorities had vastly improved in 2019, making access to Jerusalem for Arabs much easier. This was made possible due to Israel starting a new access point to Israel between Jerusalem and the West Bank.

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