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Some 250,000 worshipers pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque on first Friday of Ramadan

June 2, 2017 7:36 P.M. (Updated: June 17, 2017 9:52 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- Tens of thousands of Muslim worshipers performed the first Friday prayer of the holy month of Ramadan in the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem.

Islamic endowment (Awqaf) director Azzam al-Khatib told Ma’an that an estimated 250,000 worshippers prayed in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, adding that the compound had been crowded since the “al-fajr” dawn prayers with worshipers from across the occupied Palestinian territory, as well as from foreign countries such as Jordan, Turkey, Indonesia and South Africa.

Al-Khatib said that the number of worshipers present at Al-Aqsa on Friday was considered a good omen for the rest of the holy month, and expressed appreciation for the Al-Aqsa guards who assisted worshipers inside the compound during the day.

He added that Israeli forces installed iron gates in some of the streets leading to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, and flew a drone and a blimp overhead to monitor the worshipers.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Red Crescent said that its crews provided medical care to 89 people, five of whom were transferred to the Makassed hospital after suffering from the heat and overcrowding.

Palestinian residents of the West Bank are not allowed to access occupied East Jerusalem or Israel without an Israeli-issued permits. Ramadan typically sees a slight ease of permit restrictions on Palestinians, particularly women, though the thousands who do get permits are still subjected to long waits and checkpoints and searches by armed Israeli forces.

Meanwhile, Israeli authorities allowed 100 Palestinians above the age of 55 from the besieged Gaza Strip to travel to occupied East Jerusalem in order to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday, months after Israel suspended Friday Al-Aqsa visits for elderly Palestinians from the besieged coastal enclave in December.
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