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50,000 Palestinians pray at Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque

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Ramallah: At least 50,000 Palestinians performed Eid Al-Adha prayers on Thursday at Al-Aqsa Mosque in east Jerusalem, without any reports of clashes with Israeli forces.

President of Supreme Islamic Council Abdel Azim Salhab stressed in his Eid sermon that Al Aqsa is an Islamic mosque and must not be divided as Israel plans. He warned of a “fierce attack by the Israeli occupation on Al Aqsa mosque, which prevents access to worshippers and attacks guards in a comprehensive assault”, Xinhua news agency reported.

Al-Aqsa has been a site of violent confrontations in the last two weeks amid almost daily clashes between Palestinian worshippers and Israeli police. Palestinians protested allowing Jewish groups to enter Al Aqsa compound on Jewish holidays.

Israel has announced an easing of restriction on Muslims’ access to the Al Aqsa mosqueduring Eid al-Adha and closing it to Jews and other visitors.

Israeli police announced late Wednesday that Palestinian men over 45 years old and women over 30 are to be allowed in the compound.

In the West Bank city of Ramallah, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah conducted Eid Al-Adha prayers in the mosque and placed a wreath on the grave of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Speaking to the press, Hamdallah reiterated the Palestinian request of providing international protection to the Palestinian people in light of what he described as the “daily and continuous Israeli crimes against Palestinians, particularly in east Jerusalem.”

–IANS