JERUSALEM : Defying restrictions imposed by Israel, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank marched to the Al-Aqsa Mosque for the second Friday prayers of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
“About 250,000 worshipers offered Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, head of the Islamic Endowments Department in Jerusalem, told Anadolu.
The figure was significantly higher than last week’s 100,000.
Crowds began gathering from the early hours of the day, while Israeli authorities said 2,000 security personnel were deployed in East Jerusalem.
In his sermon, Mohammad Ahmad Hussein, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, warned of Israeli plans to target Al-Aqsa Mosque during the Jewish Passover, which will be marked between April 5-12.
Israeli forces barred men from the West Bank under the age of 55 from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Israel has announced it will only allow women, children, and men over 55 to enter Al-Aqsa Mosque without a permit during Ramadan.
A very small number of people from the Gaza Strip have obtained permits to enter East Jerusalem during the holy month.
Al-Aqsa Mosque is the world’s third-holiest site for Muslims. Jews call the area the “Temple Mount,” claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980, a move never recognized by the international community.