Thousands of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem marched to Al-Aqsa Mosque to pray the last Friday prayer of the holy month of Ramadan.
Basem Maslamani, 55, from the West Bank city of Nablus, told Anadolu Agency that he traveled for four hours to arrive at Al-Aqsa Mosque, AA reported.
Men over 50, children under 12 and women over 30 were allowed by the Israeli army to enter occupied East Jerusalem without permits.
Israeli authorities stepped up security measures around the flashpoint mosque, deploying around 2,200 soldiers and erecting roadblocks at the entrances of Jerusalem's Old City.
“This Friday might be the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan and I want to spend it at the courtyards of the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” he said. “It might be my last chance to visit Jerusalem until next Ramadan.”
Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, director-general of Muslim Endowments and Al-Aqsa Affairs, told that some 250,000 worshipers had prayed at Al-Aqsa on the last Friday of Ramadan.
Israel allowed around 300 Palestinians from the blockaded Gaza Strip to pray at Al-Aqsa on Friday.
“It is the first time I visit Al-Aqsa Mosque, I can’t describe my feelings,” Saleem Shawwa, 60, from the city of Gaza told. “I wish I could spend more than one day inside Al-Aqsa Mosque to pray and read Quran.”
Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the unified capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state – a move never recognized by the international community.
Sacred to Muslims, Christians and Jews, Jerusalem is home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which for Muslims represents the world's third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the "Temple Mount," claiming it was the site of two prominent Jewish temples in ancient times.
International law views the West Bank and East Jerusalem as “occupied territories,” considering all Jewish settlement building on the land to be illegal.
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