Al-Aqsa Mosque almost empty due to Israeli restrictions

Al-Aqsa Mosque almost empty due to Israeli restrictions

JERUSALEM (AA): Israeli restrictions have prevented tens of thousands of Palestinians from performing Friday prayers in Al-Aqsa Mosque for the eighth Friday since the beginning of the war in the Gaza Strip.

“Only 3,500 people were able to enter the mosque to perform Friday prayers, compared to more than 50,000 on regular Fridays,” an official in the Islamic Endowments Department in Jerusalem told Anadolu.

The official, who preferred to remain anonymous for security reasons, said that “the Israeli police imposed severe restrictions on the entry of worshipers into the mosque for the eighth Friday in a row.”

“The Israeli police only allowed the elderly to enter the mosque, and therefore, its courtyards and prayer rooms were almost empty during prayer time,” he added.

He pointed out that “the Israeli authorities have imposed restrictions on the entry of worshipers into Al-Aqsa Mosque since the beginning of the war, but these restrictions become more severe on Fridays.”

Eyewitnesses reported that Israeli police forces were deployed in the alleys of the Old City, where they arrested young residents and prevented them from reaching Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Hundreds of Palestinians were forced to perform prayers in the streets near the Old City.

Eyewitnesses told Anadolu that the Israeli police attacked worshipers in the Wadi Al-Joz neighborhood after preventing them from reaching Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The police fired tear gas canisters at the worshipers, beat a number of them, and chased them through the streets, eyewitnesses added.
Israel resumed its military operations against the Gaza Strip immediately after the end of the humanitarian pause, targeting various areas in the north, center and south of the Strip since the morning, resulting in dozens of deaths and injuries, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza.

At least 32 Palestinians were killed and several others injured as Israel resumed striking various areas in the Gaza Strip within three hours following the end of the pause, the Health Ministry in Gaza said.

The pause between Israel and Hamas, which went into effect on Nov. 24, ended on Friday morning.