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KNZ NEWS DESK
JERUSALEM: Despite checkpoints and a large Israeli army presence almost 180,000 muslims offered prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on first Friday of holy month of Ramadan.
Azzam al-Khatib, director general of Waqf, said the crowds reached the site “despite checkpoints and a large security presence”, AFP report said.
According to Waqf organisation the presence is 50 per cent higher than last year, when around 120,000 people attended the first Friday prayers.
The site in Israel-occupied east Jerusalem is the third holiest in Islam and has proved a flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The compound which includes Al-Aqsa is known to Jews as the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism.
AFP reported that a photographer at the Qalandia checkpoint between Jerusalem and the West Bank saw thousands of Palestinians — including elderly people in wheelchairs — lining up to enter the city early on Friday morning.
Israeli restrictions on Palestinians from the occupied West Bank are eased during the month of Ramazan, which began on Monday.
Men over the age of 40 and children under 12 would be allowed to enter the city on Fridays during Ramazan.
Israel views the whole of Jerusalem as its capital while the Palestinians see the eastern part as the capital of their future state. (AFP)