Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem reopens after two months

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque compound, the third-holiest site in Islam after Makkah and Madinah in Saudi Arabia, reopened on Sunday after being closed for more than two months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Worshippers who wore face masks were allowed to enter the compound in the early hours, before the first prayers of the day.

Singing “God is greatest, we will protect Al Aqsa with our soul and blood”, the group was welcomed by the mosque’s director Sheikh Omar Al Kiswani, who thanked them for their patience.

The compound, in East Jerusalem, closed its doors in March as part of measures to limit the spread of the virus.

It houses the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock shrine, both of which were opened on Sunday.

Muslims believe the Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven at the site, which has often been a flashpoint in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

On the first day of the Eid holiday, scuffles broke out between Israeli police and Palestinians as worshippers tried to enter the compound.

The site is under the custodianship of neighbouring Jordan, which controlled the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, until the area was occupied by Israel in the Arab-Israeli War of 1967.

With the number of Covid-19 cases declining, restrictions have been eased in Palestinian and Israeli territories in recent days.