JERUSALEM — Hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Muslims on Friday converged on East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque to mark Laylat al-Qadr, the night of the first revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), according to Palestinian officials.
Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, head of Muslim Endowments and Al-Aqsa Affairs, told Anadolu Agency that some 400,000 Muslims worshipers marked the observance at the holy mosque.
Men over 40, children under 12, and women of all ages were allowed by Israeli authorities to enter occupied East Jerusalem without permits for the occasion.
According to al-Khatib, worshipers arrived at the iconic site despite Israeli security measures and hundreds of police officers deployed at the entrance of Jerusalem’s old city.
Earlier in the day, tens of thousands of Muslims attended prayers at al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem amid tight security on the last Friday of Ramadan (Jumatul Wida).
Worshippers, including Palestinians and pilgrims from around the world, sheltered under umbrellas as volunteers sprayed them with water around Al-Aqsa mosque in the Old City compound known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary) and to Jews as Temple Mount.
Israel has illegally occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.
In a move never recognized by the international community, Israel annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as the self-proclaimed Jewish state’s “eternal and undivided” capital.
For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world’s third-holiest site after Makkah and Madinah. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the “Temple Mount,” claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
International law continues to view both the West Bank and East Jerusalem as occupied territory.