Tens of thousands of Palestinians perform last Friday prayers of Ramadan at Al-Aqsa after Israeli raid
Tens of thousands of Palestinians performed the last Friday prayers of Ramadan in the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem, despite a heavy Israeli security presence and a raid on the mosque earlier in the day which left dozens injured.
Activists and eyewitnesses in the mosque said that around 250,000 people attended the Friday prayer, while the Islamic Waqf (Religious Endowments) Department in Jerusalem gave a lower estimate of 160,000.
From the early hours of Friday morning, thousands of Palestinians began arriving at the mosque, which is Islam's third-holiest site, from within Israel's 1948 borders and the occupied West Bank.
Israel illegally occupied East Jerusalem, where the mosque is located, following the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
The scene at Al Aqsa in occupied Jerusalem earlier today, where tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered to pray on the last Friday of Ramadan. pic.twitter.com/24cFQifxeZ— IMEU (@theIMEU) April 29, 2022
The department said that the prayers took place while Israeli security forces deployed in force at the mosque's gates.
Following the prayers, a demonstration took place within the mosque courtyard, with protesters raising Hamas flags.
Israeli snipers took up positions in surrounding buildings, while drones flew overhead.
Earlier in the day, the Palestinian Red Crescent said that 42 Palestinians were injured when Israeli security forces stormed the mosque's grounds after dawn prayers.
Israeli security forces also deployed in force in the Old City of Jerusalem. They tried to prevent any Palestinian under the age of 50 from entering the mosque but in the end allowed younger Palestinians in, in an attempt to avoid clashes.
However, around 19 Palestinians were detained by Israeli forces in the Old City during the day.
Around 300 Palestinians have been injured by Israeli attacks at the Al-Aqsa Mosque during the last two weeks of Ramadan, with Jewish extremists entering the mosque's courtyard and performing provocative rituals with Israeli police protection.
Some Jewish extremists wish to demolish the mosque and build a Jewish temple in its place, while others seek to divide the site between Muslims and Jews.