Nearly 100,000 Muslims pray at al-Aqsa for Ramadan
Nearly 100,000 Muslim worshippers poured into al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City for the first Friday prayers of the holy month of Ramadan, an Israeli police spokesman said.
“Nearly 100,000 Palestinians from the West Bank” and east Jerusalem “were at the Temple Mount for prayers,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said, adding that no disturbances were reported.
The al-Aqsa mosque compound is known as al-Haram al-Sharif to Muslims and is Islam’s third holiest site after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.
But Jews refer to the same area as the Temple Mount, the location of the Second Jewish Temple razed by the Romans in 70 AD and Judaism's holiest site.
The Israeli police and army have eased restrictions imposed on West Bank Palestinians wishing to pray at al-Aqsa during the holy fasting month of Ramadan, which most Muslims across the region began observing from Friday.
Authorities said they would allow 5,000 Palestinians to travel daily from the West Bank to aAl-Aqsa to pray throughout the month of Ramadan and would also ease travel restrictions for those wishing to visit with relatives.
But Palestinians men under the age of 40 are still banned from going to al-Aqsa.
Rosenfeld said thousands of security forces were deployed since the early hours in the Old City, around the al-Aqsa mosque compound and in the eastern part of Jerusalem, to prevent any incident.
Israel generally prohibits Palestinians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to enter its own designated territory or east Jerusalem, which it occupied in the 1967 Six-Day-War and later annexed.
Meanwhile Israel has transferred ahead of time tax and tariff revenues to the Palestinian Authority in a goodwill gesture for Ramadan, a spokesman for the body that deals with Palestinian civilian affairs in the West Bank said.
On Wednesday, “Israel transferred 160 million shekels ($40 million, 32.7 million euro) to the Palestinian Authority to be used to pay July salaries,” Guy Inbar said.
The funds would normally have been paid in the second week of August.
Israel levies taxes and custom duties on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, under interim peace deals.
Source: Al Arabiya News