Tens of thousands pray at Al-Aqsa on first Friday of Ramadan

Jerusalem: Tens of thousands of Palestinians prayed at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem Friday, the first weekly prayers of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Around 120,000 people attended the Friday prayers, a spokesman for the religious authority that governs the mosque told AFP.

Heavily armed Israeli police stood guard in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. Al-Aqsa is the third holiest site for Muslims, after two others in Saudi Arabia. It is located in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

Thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank were allowed to enter Jerusalem for the prayers, passing through checkpoints where they underwent searches. There were no restrictions on women crossing into Jerusalem, but men under 40 were prevented from crossing by Israel, which normally cites security concerns.

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Friday prayers passed peacefully at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, while outside the compound heavily armed police officers were deployed in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City.