Al-Aqsa: Palestinians perform Friday Zuhr at ‘Bab al-Rahma’ for first time since 2003

AMMAN: For the first time since 2003, Palestinian worshippers offered Friday prayers in the Bab al-Rahma (Gate of Mercy) area, one of the gates of Al-Aqsa compound in the occupied Old City of East Jerusalem al-Quds.

The Bab al-Rahma gate, also known as the Golden Gate has been closed off to Palestinian Muslim worshippers through chains and locks for more than 15 years and has only been open to Jewish fanatics during provocative visits.

However, on Friday in a show of defiance of Israeli attempts to prevent Muslims from being in that area, dozens of Palestinians worshippers led by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Mohammad Hussein and other religious leaders, forced their way into the area.

Chanting religious and national slogans, the Jerusalemite Palestinians break off the locks on the gate and also held Zuhr (noon) prayers that went off peacefully in part with no further escalations.

According to Palestinian official, the Israeli army succumbs to pressure and removed their soldiers as they failed to stop the crowd from opening the gate and entering the area for prayers.

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“The Israeli occupation removed its soldiers because of the pressure of the Palestinian crowd who opened the gate by force”, Fares al-Dabbas, spokesperson for the Jerusalem Islamic Endowment, known as al-Waqf in Arabic, told The New Arab.

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The act of defiance comes amid heightened tension as there have been scuffles between Palestinians and Israelis for the past few days and the Israeli military assaulted Muslim worshippers leaving many of them wounded and detained over 40 Palestinians.

For Muslims, the Al-Aqsa represents the world’s third holiest site after Masjid al-Haram in Makkah and Masjid al-Nabawi in Madina.