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Israel allows Palestinians from Gaza to pray at Al-Aqsa for first time in months

June 2, 2017 3:19 P.M. (Updated: June 2, 2017 9:32 P.M.)
(File)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities on Friday permitted 100 Palestinians from the besieged Gaza Strip to travel to occupied East Jerusalem in order to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque for the first Friday of the holy month of Ramadan.

Sources at the Palestinian liaison office told Ma’an that Palestinian worshipers traveled on buses through the Erez border crossing with Israel early Friday morning, noting that it was the first time in six months that Israel had allowed Gazans to leave the coastal enclave to Al-Aqsa.

Israeli authorities only permitted Palestinians above the age of 55 to make the trip on Friday, sources added.

Last week, when Israel announced "special procedures" for the entry of Palestinians to Israel during Ramdan, Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said that 100 men over 55 would be granted permits every Friday to pray in Al-Aqsa Mosque, tightening restrictions from last year, when 300 men over the age of 50 were allowed to attend weekly prayers.

On average, 200 Gazans have been allowed to travel to Al-Aqsa as part of the ceasefire deal between Palestinian militant groups and Israel which ended the 2014 war on Gaza. However, the agreement has been regularly suspended over Israeli claims regarding security.

For many Palestinians in Jerusalem and across the occupied Palestinian territory, Ramadan is directly connected to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Last year, Israeli authorities froze the permits of 83,000 Palestinians to enter Israel, banned visitations of elderly Gazans to the Al-Aqsa Mosque for a week, and cancelled all coordination with the Gaza Strip during the month of Ramadan, in the wake of a deadly shooting attack in Tel Aviv.
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