Middle East Monitor / April 21, 2023
Nearly 120,000 Muslims early Friday did special prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem, which remains under Israeli occupation, reports Anadolu Agency.
For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world’s third-holiest site, and today is the start of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, directly following the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Since the early morning, Palestinian Muslims of all ages set out to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
In a written statement, the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf Administration announced that around 120,000 Muslims did Eid prayers in the mosque.
After the prayers, Muslims in the mosque’s compound exchanged Eid greetings accompanied by takbirs (saying the phrase “Allah is the greatest”).
Mustafa Guleren, a Turkish citizen who did his prayers at Al-Aqsa, told Anadolu that it is hard to put into words what it felt like to spend the final days of the holy month of Ramadan in Jerusalem and at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
A climate of fellowship prevails in Jerusalem, and this is even more true during Ramadan, Guleren said.
Today’s so far peaceful atmosphere contrasts with a large stretch of April, which saw escalated tensions after Israeli forces stormed Al-Aqsa and forcibly removed worshippers
The Israeli raids on the mosque triggered rocket fire from the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, with Israel retaliating with airstrikes.
Palestinians accuse Israel of systematically working to Judaize East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, and obliterate its Arab and Islamic identity.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980, in a move never recognized by the international community.