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Palestinians keen to spend Ramadan at Aqsa Mosque
Tuesday July 1, 2014 0:36 AM, IINA

Amid restrictions imposed by the occupied Israeli authorities for entry into Al-Aqsa Mosque, Palestinians want to spend the blessed days of the holy month at Islam's third holy mosque.

Al Aqsa Mosque

The Al-Aqsa Foundation has been completed Ramadan preparations as well as to offer iftar meals at the holy mosque throughout the holy month. The foundation plans to distribute 80,000 iftar and suhour meals during Ramadan.

In Ramadan, the Israeli authorities allow those Palestinians from outside the mosque neighborhood to enter the holy mosque only on Fridays. The entry is also strictly restricted to men above the age of 40, children below the age of 16 and women in all age groups.

Despite these restrictions, Palestinians from all cities and regions of the West Bank flock to the holy city to offer prayers at the holy mosque. For some of them, visiting the mosque is the first experience in their life.

This time, Palestinians are worried on the prospect of imposing more restrictions by the Israeli authorities in the wake of the increased military raids following the missing of three young Israeli settlers.

An Israeli general said last week that the Israeli army planned to ratchet up restrictions on Palestinians during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

"Ramadan 2014 will not be like Ramadans in previous years," Yoav Mordechai, who heads the branch of the Israeli army tasked with running Palestinian civil affairs, was quoted as saying by The Times of Israel news portal.

Tension has been running high in East Jerusalem due to what Palestinians describe as an aggressive Israeli campaign to "Judaize" the city and its iconic Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Meanwhile, Palestinians marched on streets of East Jerusalem in traditional clothes last Thursday in a festival to welcome the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when the faithful abstain from food and drink from dawn to dusk.

"We organized this march to give positive energy to the people, make them feel alive again," Siham Bahri, a Palestinian teacher, told Anadolu Agency.

Dozens of Palestinian Muslims attended the ceremony to mark the upcoming fasting month, marching from Salah ad-Din Street to the Damascus gate. Participants carried banners reading "God Bless Our Jerusalem, Show Respect Your Elderly, Love Your Children," as they walked and sing traditional songs.

A male dancer performed in a long colorful skirt at Damascus Gate, whirling among the dozens of cheering children.

Anna Natch, one of the organizers and member of Ahy Al-Quds Club, said the purpose of the march was to show to the Israeli that Jerusalem is the land of Muslims.

"We are the real residents of Jerusalem even though the Jewish people claim the opposite," said Natch.

He said every Ramadan, Palestinians feel sadder due to "increasing restrictions imposed on them and ongoing occupation by Israel."

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980 – a move never recognized by the international community – claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state.

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