For first time since 2003, Palestinians enter Bab al-Rahmeh section of holy Al-Aqsa

JERUSALEM, Hundreds of Palestinian worshippers on Friday entered Bab al-Rahmeh area inside the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City for the first time since the area was closed to Muslim worshipping by Israeli authorities in 2003.

The worshippers, led by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Mohammad Hussein, and other religious leaders forced their way into the area ahead of the weekly Friday prayer, defying the Israeli ban of Muslim worshipping in the area.

The worshipers chanted religious and national slogans and mounted the flag of Palestine to show delight at the reopening of the area, which has only been open during the past 16 years to Jewish fanatics during provocative visits to the Muslim holy place, the third holiest site in Islam.

The Jordan-run Islamic Waqf, in charge of holy places in Jerusalem, said over 60 thousand worshippers from occupied Jerusalem and the Palestinian towns in Israel were able to perform Friday prayer inside the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque today despite Israel’s restrictions.

Sheikh Ekrema Sabri, who led the Friday sermon and prayer, confirmed that Bab al-Rahmeh was part and parcel of the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque and called on Israeli occupation forces not to intervene in the affairs of the Mosque.

On Wednesday, Palestinians removed a metal gate Israeli police had placed at the entrance to Bab al-Rahmeh and held prayers in the area.

Palestinians were fearing Israel was planning to turn that area into a Jewish temple in the heart of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, after Jewish fanatics were seen in recent days and weeks holding religious rituals in that area under Israeli police protection.

Source: Palestinian News and Info Agency