Al-Aqsa Mosque

James Emery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Palestinian Muslims are permitted to travel to al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, where they will be able to worship.

During the month of Ramadan, which is the holiest month for Muslims, Muslims will be permitted to visit relatives and travel to Mecca thanks to Israel easing restrictions on Palestinian travel. Ramadan began on Wednesday evening, June 24, this year. During this month, Muslims fast from sunset to sunrise. Ramadan always begins in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which is based on the lunar cycle. The specific starting date is determined by the crescent mood in Mecca, the holy city in Saudi Arabia.

Palestinians are permitted to travel to al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, where they will be able to worship. In addition, they can enter Israel from the Gaza Strip and West Bank to visit their relatives in Israel. Around 500 have been granted permission to go overseas using the Ben Guiron International Airport in Israel as well! In addition, they are able to make the Hajj pilgrimage, one of the Five Pillars of Islam, to Mecca through the Jordan/Israel border.

The Five Pillars of Islam are often incorporated into Ramadan. There’s Salat, which are the five daily prayers. Shahadah, or declaring faith, Zaka, which is almsgiving, Hajj, for the trip to Mecca, and Sawn, which means ‘refrain’. During Ramadan, healthy Muslims will refrain from food and drink. However, it also includes refraining from cigarettes, sex and cursing. This year, the longest fast will occur in Reykjavik, Iceland for 23 hours. The shortest will be in Sydney, Australia for 11 hours and 24 minutes.

According to a spokesperson of COGAT, a defense ministry unit that takes care of civilian affairs in West Bank, says that this is the first time that Palestinians will be able to travel straight from West Bank to the al-Aqsa mosque compound. Women of any age, and men over 40, will be able to pray at Mecca, and 800 from Gaza Strip will get to attend prayers on Friday. The spokesperson told AFP that this is likely due to cooperation in security between Israel and West Bank Palestinian Authority. The restriction removal will be temporary, but it is a sign of good will from Israel to Palestinians.

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