Israeli authorities allowed hundreds of Palestinian worshipers from the Gaza Strip to enter occupied East Jerusalem to perform Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Sources at the Palestinian liaison office told Ma’an that 300 Gazans above the age of 50 headed to Jerusalem via the Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip early Friday.
Israeli authorities generally restrict Erez crossing on Fridays to humanitarian and emergency cases while the crossing is closed on Saturday for the weekend.
While a ceasefire agreement that ended Israel’s 2014 offensive on the Gaza Strip allotted weekly visitation by elderly Palestinians from Gaza to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa, the visits have since been frequently interrupted for alleged security reasons and Jewish holidays. Friday marks the second consecutive week Palestinians from the Gaza Strip have been allowed to worship in Jerusalem, following a two-week ban implemented by Israeli authorities for the Jewish holiday of Passover.
The weekly visits had resumed for just one week prior to the Passover suspension, after Israel lifted a one-month ban in March due to allegations that Palestinians traveling for worship were not returning to the Gaza Strip on the same day of the visit, as the agreement stipulated, posing a “threat to security.”
The majority of the more than 1.8 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are sealed inside the coastal enclave due to a near-decade long military blockade imposed by Israel and upheld by Egypt on the southern border.[Source: Ma’an News agency]