250 Gazans travel to Al-Aqsa for Friday prayers
Oct. 28, 2016 12:20 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 29, 2016 12:11 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Some 250 Palestinians from the besieged Gaza Strip
traveled to occupied East Jerusalem on Friday to attend prayers at the
Al-Aqsa Mosque, according to Palestinian liaison officials.
The officials told Ma’an that the worshipers, all above the age of 50,
traveled to Jerusalem via the Erez crossing between the besieged enclave and
Israel to attend prayers, and would immediately be returning to the Gaza
Strip following the conclusion of Friday prayers.
The number of Palestinians permitted to worship at Al-Aqsa was reduced by
Israel in recent months, as Israeli authorities had previously permitted 300
elderly Palestinians from the small Palestinian territory to travel to
Al-Aqsa every Friday.
A spokesperson for the Coordination of Government Activities in the
Territories (COGAT), the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli
policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, told Ma’an at the time that
Israeli authorities decided to reduce the quota of permits for Palestinians
to travel to the Al-Aqsa Mosque for prayers as a result of Hamas and other
groups “choosing to use the crossing permits given to them illegally.”
The spokesperson added that the decision would continue to be reviewed “in
accordance with the conduct of the Palestinians and their choice to respect
the agreements with Israel.”
Visitations of elderly Palestinians from Gaza were implemented as part of a
ceasefire agreement that ended Israel’s 2014 offensive on the besieged
enclave. However, due to Israeli security concerns and Jewish holidays,
visits have been frequently interrupted since their introduction.