Palestinians Flock to Aqsa Mosque Despite Israeli Oppression*
Thousands of Palestinians went to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem on Saturday to perform the Eid al-Adha prayers despite an Israeli blockage of main roads.
Israeli police forces were deployed all across East Jerusalem for Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, which coincided with the Muslim Eid al-Adha feast. They closed certain streets to prevent the movement of traffic in accordance with Jewish beliefs.
There are concerns that clashes might occur in areas with mixed Jewish-Muslim populations.
Muslim worshippers flocked to Aqsa Mosque for the special prayers, which started 7:10 local time, marking the start of the Islamic feast.
A Hamas banner was hung on the door of the holy mosque, congratulating Muslim of the advent of the feast.
On the banner, there were pictures of fighters of the Ezzeddin al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, and verses of the Quran about the Jihad, the holy struggle in Islam.
The Muslim feast comes almost six weeks following a deadly Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip, which left more than 2,150 Palestinians and injured nearly 11,000 others.
At least 73 Israelis – 68 soldiers and five civilians – were killed in the seven-week offensive, launched with the declared aim of halting rocket fire.
The offensive finally ended on August 26 with an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire deal that was celebrated by resistance faction Hamas as a strategic victory over Israel.
The Eid al-Adha, or the “feast of the sacrifice,” will be celebrated over the next three days to commemorate Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to follow God’s command to sacrifice his son, Ismail.
Muslims who can afford it should sacrifice a sheep or share the cost of a sacrificial cow or camel in a ritual commemorating the occasion.
Life comes to a standstill in Israel during Yom Kippur celebrations, with all institutions, schools, commercial shops, ports and airports closing their doors.
Muslims, however, tend to spend much of the Eid al-Adha feast visiting one another’s homes.