Israel bans thousands of Palestinians from praying at Al-Aqsa Mosque

Not allowed to enter Al-Aqsa Mosque by Israeli forces, Palestinians perform Friday prayer outside the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem (Mostafa Alkharouf - Anadolu Agency)

Middle East Monitor  /  January 2, 2021

Israeli occupation police on Friday barred thousands of Palestinians from performing Friday prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque, under the pretext of fighting COVID-19, Anadolu Agency reported.

Witnesses said that the Israeli police erected checkpoints at the entries of Jerusalem’s Old City and prevented Palestinians from entering Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Preacher of Al-Aqsa Mosque Sheikh Ekrema Sabri condemned the Israeli measures, noting that the Palestinians are being prevented under the pretext of the coronavirus. In contrast, daily tours of Jewish Israeli settlers are being organised and are protected by the Israeli occupation police.

“As long as the Palestinians wear their masks, bring their praying mats and maintain social distances, there is no justification to prevent them from entering into the mosque,” Sheikh Sabri expressed, adding:

We call on all Muslims to travel and pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque. We mainly call on the residents of the Old City to keep praying inside the mosque in order to undermine Israeli Judaisation of the occupied West Bank.

On Sunday, Israel started its third COVID-19 lockdown in an attempt to curb the outbreak of the virus. The lockdown could be renewed if required.

The most recent official statistics conveyed that Israel has recorded 428,510 COVID-19 cases, in addition to 3,356 deaths.