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300 Gazans travel to Jerusalem for Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque

July 15, 2016 12:15 P.M. (Updated: July 18, 2016 7:57 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Hundreds of Palestinians from the besieged Gaza Strip traveled to occupied East Jerusalem via the Erez crossing between the small enclave and Israel to perform Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, according to sources at the Palestinian liaison officials.

Palestinian officials told Ma’an that 300 worshipers attended Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, before immediately returning to the Gaza Strip.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque, cherished as the third holiest site in Islam, is located in East Jerusalem, a part of the internationally recognized Palestinian territory which has been occupied by the Israeli army for almost 50 years.

It is also venerated as Judaism's most holy place, as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood. The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, and some Jewish extremists have called for the destruction of the Al-Aqsa Mosque so as to build a Third Temple in its place.

Visitations by elderly Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to Al-Aqsa were implemented as part of a ceasefire agreement that ended Israel’s 2014 offensive on the besieged enclave. However, due to Israeli security concerns and Jewish holidays, visitations have been frequently interrupted since their introduction.

The majority of the more than 1.8 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are sealed inside the coastal enclave due to a near-decade long military blockade imposed by Israel and upheld by Egypt on the southern border.
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