Israel allows thousands of Palestinians to pray at al-Aqsa mosque

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West Bank residents crossed on Friday the checkpoints separating them from Jerusalem making their way to Al-Aqsa mosque for Friday prayers during the holy month of Ramadan.

Israel restricts access to Jerusalem for Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank.

On Friday, Israel authorized men over 40 and women of all age to cross into Jerusalem, Israel police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

West Bank resident and Muslim worshipper Zakia Hamdan hoped the journey would be hassle-free.

“Thanks to God, we hope it will be easy, we pray and go back home, we thank god that they let us go,” Hamdan said.

Over 3,000 Israeli police forces were positioned in and around the Old City where the Al-Aqsa compound is located to control the thousands of people expected, Rosenfeld also said.

Al-Aqsa stands on Israeli-controlled land that may be the most disputed religious spot on earth.

The Al-Aqsa compound includes the octagonal Dome of the Rock, which was built by Jerusalem’s Arab conquerors in 691 on the spot where Muslims say the Prophet Mohammad began his Night Journey to heaven.

Jews call the raised ground at the eastern edge of Jerusalem’s Old City the Temple Mount, while Muslims know it as the Noble Sanctuary. Both claim sovereignty over it.

Israel seized East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan in a 1967 war.

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