Wed, 08 Jul 2020

EAST JERUSALEM - Israeli police attacked worshipers performing Eid prayers outside the Al Aqsa Mosque compound, wounding several elderly Muslims, at the revered site in occupied East Jerusalem.

The Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that Israeli forces used batons and rifle butts during the attack.

The mosque remains closed because of the coronavirus pandemic but Palestinian residents of Jerusalem went to the holy site to pray as close to it as possible.

The mosque Islam's third holiest site will reopen after Eid Al Fitr, the festival marking the end of holy fasting month of Ramadan on Sunday, the site's governing body announced on Tuesday.

It has long been at the heart of tensions between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Two months after it was closed as part of anti-coronavirus precautions, Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre remained closed to the public on Sunday, despite an earlier official announcement of its reopening.

Located in the walled Old City of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, most Christians believe the site is where Jesus was crucified and entombed.

Millions of pilgrims visit the church each year, but it was closed on March 25, ahead of the Easter holidays, as part of measures imposed to combat the spread of the Covid-19 disease in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Leaders of the three denominations that share the site had said in a joint statement on Saturday that it would reopen on May 24 "to the faithful for visits and prayers".

The Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Roman Catholic denominations share custody of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

They said that entry would be restricted to a maximum of 50 people at a time, "to those who have no fever or symptoms of infection and are wearing suitable face coverings".

But on Sunday morning worshippers were denied entry.

Religious officials said that reopening was postponed but did not give a new date, hinting that there were difficulties in counting numbers in order to maintain social distancing.

Source: The National.

(Photo credit: AP).

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