The first Friday prayer of the Ramadan took place at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City on Friday and was attended by tens of thousands of Muslims from across the country, without any exceptional incidents reported. Police credited the peaceful nature of the event to the logistical and security preparations held in advance, “which ensured the arrival of tens of thousands of Muslim worshipers to the Temple Mount and allowed the first Friday prayer of the Ramadan to take place.”Police had reinforced the security of the area by sending hundreds of police and Border Police officers to the area of the Old City in Jerusalem ahead of the event. The report noted that before the prayers began Public Security Minister Amir Ohana arrived to a police checkpoint at the Western Wall and held a situation evaluation with Police Commissioner Yaakov (Kobi) Shabtai and Commander of the Jerusalem District Doron Turjeman. Ohana stressed the importance of the individual as well as the collective preparation and alertness of all involved police personnel, “in order to allow freedom of religion to all groups and religions in the city.” Defense Minister Benny Gantz had directed police to allow the exceptional entry of some 10,000 vaccinated Palestinian worshipers from the West Bank into Jerusalem on Friday. Public transportation was redirected accordingly to and from Jerusalem’s Old City in order to prevent traffic congestion. Still, the majority of Palestinians, who were not vaccinated, were not permitted to join in the prayers.Last year, the Muslim world struggled to mark the Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, in the shadow of coronavirus which was raging throughout the world. Ahead of Ramadan’s expected beginning earlier this week however, the mood in Jerusalem’s Old City was far more joyful than last year when prayers were suspended at the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third-holiest site.
#Ramadan decorations fill the streets of Jerusalem’s Old City as Palestinians welcome a holy month freer of COVID-19 restrictions than at the height of the pandemic pic.twitter.com/8zZfh8vul1
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) April 16, 2021
Although Jerusalem is still without foreign tourists, far more people were roaming the Old City, where shops reported brisk business. Israel has included Palestinians in east Jerusalem in its swift rollout of vaccines.Today, over 80,000 coronavirus vaccines have entered the Gaza Strip and over 200,000 vaccines have been donated to the Palestinian Authority to be used in the West Bank. Israel has also initiated its program to vaccinate 120,000 Palestinian workers in Israel and the West Bank settlements, so the number of vaccinated individuals has increased. Reuters contributed to this report.
Source: Jerusalem Post
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