A Palestinian woman raises her arms in prayer at the Al-aqsa Mosque compound.
Gulf Today Report
Thousands of Palestinians streamed to Al-Aqsa mosque in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem on the first Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in the largest such gathering since the coronavirus pandemic.
Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, head of the Waqf Islamic affairs council, said he expected as many as 100,000 arrivals from Jerusalem, the Israeli-occupied West Bank .
It would be the highest number of Ramadan worshippers at Al-Aqsa since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic more than a year ago, he told AFP.
Last Ramadan, "They (Israeli authorities) did not allow anyone to enter Al-Aqsa except for me."
By early afternoon, Palestinian women in headscarves and long robes were seated on the carpeted floor of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound reading the Quran holy book.
But despite the lifting of some coronavirus restrictions, the sprawling plaza of the compound was far from full.
Cogat, the Israeli military body that administers the occupied territories, said 10,000 vaccinated Palestinians were issued permits to enter Jerusalem for prayers.
Police shut down roads around Jerusalem as busses loaded with of pilgrims drove in.
The Muslim prayers on the first Friday of this year's Ramadan follow tensions in the city.
Despite quarantine restrictions, the pandemic seems to be having only a minimal effect on day-to-day life in this country ravaged by strife and poverty.
Palestinians rejoice and prepare traditional food and decorations to welcome the upcoming Eid Al-Fitr holiday which marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
The holy month of Ramadan began on Friday with Islam's holiest sites in Saudi Arabia and Jerusalem largely empty of worshippers as the coronavirus crisis forced authorities to impose unprecedented restrictions.
The children were granted wishes including the opportunity to travel to perform Umrah rituals, a trip to Bosnia, the latest electronic devices, new toys, an electric car and a Barbie doll house.
Pakistan hosted some 1.5 million registered refugees, one of the largest such populations in the world, according to the United Nations refugee agency.
Eying each other across a stream of traffic, rival Pakistani biryani joints vie for customers, serving a fiery medley of meat, rice and spice that unites and divides South Asian appetites.