Some 300,000 Muslim worshipers from the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, Israel, and foreign countries prayed overnight between Wednesday and Thursday at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem to mark Laylat al-Qadr, “Night of Power,” one of Ramadan’s holiest nights, according to Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency.
Wafa quoted the Islamic Endowment (Waqf), which manages the Al-Aqsa compound, as saying that among the hundreds of thousands of worshippers at the mosque were visitors from various countries, including Malaysia, Turkey, South Africa, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, Jordan and Indonesia.
Director of the mosque Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani addressed worshipers at the site, saying the masses who came from all around the world to attend the overnight prayers reaffirmed “the Islamic nature of this mosque.”
According to Wafa, Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, director of the Jerusalem office of the Waqf, condemned Israel’s permit regime and restrictions on movement of Palestinian worshipers from the West Bank, saying “all Muslim worshipers should have the right to access the holy site throughout the year and with no restrictions.”
Prayer on Laylat al-Qadr, which is typically observed on the 27th night of Ramadan, is believed by Muslims to be better than 1,000 months of prayers.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest place in Islam, after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.
During Ramadan, Israeli authorities permit men above the age of 40, women of all ages, and children younger than 12 years of age from the occupied West Bank to enter Jerusalem without a permit on Fridays.
In the wake of a deadly attack at the entrance of the Old City last Friday, which left three Palestinians assailants and one Israeli police officer dead, Israeli authorities enforced a strict crackdown on occupied East Jerusalem, with Palestinians saying they were subjected to “collective punishment” through road closures, arbitrary searches, and mass detentions.
Witnesses told Ma’an that Israeli police were conducting physical searches on Palestinians, including women and children, and forcing holders of West Bank IDs to board special buses, which had been deployed across Jerusalem since the early hours of Saturday morning following the attack.
The “deportations” followed a decision from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to revoke family visitation permits issued to Palestinians to enter Jerusalem and Israel for Ramadan, as a punitive reaction to the attack. According to Israeli news site Haaretz, 250,000 Palestinians had their permits revoked.[source: Ma’an News]