Prayers for Gaza: Palestinians mark sombre Eid at Al-Aqsa Mosque | Religion News

More than 60,000 Palestinians offered Eid al-Fitr prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem, but the atmosphere was subdued and not festive as people mourned the victims of Israel’s more than six-month war on the Gaza Strip.

Large contingents of Israeli police officers were deployed at the entrances, surrounding areas and alleys of the city. Because police barred some people from entering the compound, they prayed instead at the mosque’s outer gates.

While few people from the occupied West Bank were permitted to enter, the Islamic Endowments Department in Jerusalem said in a statement that more than 60,000 faithful offered prayers to mark the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Israel has restricted Palestinians’ access to Al-Aqsa Mosque amid growing tensions across the occupied West Bank due to the Israeli army’s ongoing offensive on Gaza.

Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam, which has stood on a hill in the Old City of Jerusalem for more than 1,300 years. Jews refer to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound as the Temple Mount and believe it is where the first and second ancient Jewish temples once stood.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move that is not recognised by the international community.

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