'We sacrifice for you Al-Aqsa' — Palestinians mark holiest Ramadan night

An aerial view of thousands of Palestinian worshipers gathering to break their fast and perform prayer on the night of Laylat al-Qadr at Al Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem, despite Israeli restrictions on April 5, 2024. (Photo/AA)

Palestinian Muslims have marked a tense and sombre last Friday of Ramadan in occupied East Jerusalem, with Israeli occupation police controlling the entrance to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the third holiest site in Islam, scuffling with worshippers and seizing many.

Some 120,000 worshippers descended on the shrine, which dominates the Old City, officials said on Friday, with grand mufti Muhammad Ahmad Hussein urging the faithful to brave the heavy police presence because of the war in Gaza.

Adli al Agha, 53, from occupied East Jerusalem, told the AFP news agency that many people "had to flee dawn prayers" after Israeli police deployed a mini-drone spraying tear gas to disperse people chanting "Glory to God".

"In our soul and our blood, we sacrifice for you Al-Aqsa," worshippers declared, according to Agha.

Thousands of people gathered for the last Friday prayers of Ramadan at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of the most revered sites in Islam. (Photo/AA)

Israeli police said they arrested eight worshippers.

Yasser Basha, from Tulkarem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, said police were restricting entrance to the mosque to the old and the very young. Only men over 55 and women over 50 were being allowed inside, he said.

"If it wasn't for the war, things would have been much easier," he added.

Friday also marks Laylat al-Qadr ["The Night of Power"], the spiritual climax of the Muslim holy month, which commemorates the moment the archangel Gabriel first appeared to Prophet Muhammad [Peace be Upon Him] and began revealing the Holy Quran.

It is the night when Muslims believe their prayers are most likely to be granted, a festive moment while children stay up late and shops stay open till the small hours.

But many Palestinians are not in the mood to celebrate and are praying for an end to Israel's brutal war in Gaza after almost six months of bloodshed.

A significant deployment of Israeli occupation police led to the arrest of eight individuals at the Aqsa Mosque compound.

'Can't escape Gaza'

Sameeha Al Qadi, 55, who had come from near Bethlehem, said Jerusalem "is sad and has lost its light — we all feel what is going on in Gaza. We can't escape it for a minute."

This year there are few Ramadan decorations or lights in the Holy City, with Palestinians instead having a bitter coffee and a date — traditionally to mark mourning — on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, when feasts are usually held.

More than 100,000 people attended Friday prayers — last Friday of Ramadan at occupied Jerusalem's Al Aqsa Mosque. (Photo/AA)

"There is sweet nothing about the feast this year. People are not celebrating," said Sabah, 54, some of whose relatives have been killed in Gaza.

"Everything is bitter in my mouth. It is so painful at this time which is all about family."

Easter was similarly subdued last weekend for Palestinian Christians.

Adnan Jafar, 60, a sweet maker in the Old City, said usually in Ramadan his shop is at its busiest.

"But I have never had a Ramadan like this. And we all know why. [Gaza] is not just affecting us, it is affecting the whole world."

Palestinians gather to mark Laylat al-Qadr in occupied East Jerusalem's Old City. (Photo/Reuters)

In the aftermath of the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Israel captured East Jerusalem, the location of Al-Aqsa. In a move unrecognised by the international community, the city was annexed in its entirety in 1980.

Israel has restricted Palestinian worshippers' access to Al-Aqsa Mosque amid it ongoing bloody bombing and invasion in Gaza.

Israel has killed more than 33,000 Palestinians in Gaza — 70 percent of them babies, children and women — and wounded over 75,000 people since October 2023.


Source: TRT