Preparations are underway in the Old City of Jerusalem for the holy night of Laylat al-Qader on Monday, the Islamic Endowment that oversees Al-Aqsa mosque compound said Sunday. Laylat al-Qader, meaning the Night of Destiny, takes place toward the end of the holy month of Ramadan, and according to Muslim belief marks the night the first verses of the Quran were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
The head of the Endowment, Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib said 250,000 people are expected to attend evening prayers at the mosque compound Monday, adding that 150,000 Iftar meals will be provided along with other meals.
Azzam added that it was important for the Israeli authorities to allow all Palestinians to enter East Jerusalem to pray without restrictions.
However, Israeli police announced a number of restrictions on Monday. Israeli police spokesperson Luba Samari said in a statement that Palestinian women between the ages of 16 and 30 will not be allowed to cross into East Jerusalem from the West Bank without permits, as well as men between 30 and 50 years old.
Children under 12 and men over 50 are allowed to enter without permits, in addition to women over 30.
Palestinian men between the ages of 12 and 30 will not be allowed through at all, Samari said.
He added that thousands of Israeli police officers will be deployed throughout the city from Monday morning to Tuesday evening.
During last year’s Laylat al-Qader Palestinian demonstrators marched across East Jerusalem toward its Old City, where they were met by Israeli police officers, who fired rubber-coated bullets, stun grenades, tear gas and skunk water.
Store owners in the area were forced to close their shops after Israeli forces hit them with the skunk water, a foul-smelling liquid often used to disperse protesters.
Palestinians were able to breach the police barriers at entrances to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, and hundreds entered. At least 40 Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces during the clashes and police detained another 40 throughout the night. MAAN