Israel to allow same numbers into Al-Aqsa during start of Ramadan as in previous years

Israel to allow same numbers into Al-Aqsa during start of Ramadan as in previous years
Israel said it will allow similar number of worshippers into Al-Aqsa mosque compound at the start of Ramadan next week as in previous years.
2 min read
Palestinians reject any restrictions from Israel on allowing them to enter Al-Aqsa mosque compound [Getty]

Israel will allow a similar number of worshippers into Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the first week of Ramadan as in previous years, a statement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said on Tuesday, without specifying a number.

With war raging in Gaza, Israel said it may limit access to the holy site during the Muslim fasting month, citing security needs. Palestinians reject any such restrictions.

Al-Aqsa, Islam's third holiest, sits on a hilltop in Jerusalem's Old City in a compound also revered by Jews as a vestige of their two ancient temples.

Israel captured the site in the 1967 Middle East war and illegally annexed it with the rest of East Jerusalem, which Palestinians want as the capital of an independent state.

Israeli police and settler raids, and restrictions on Palestinian access to the site, have been a source of friction in the past, particularly during holidays including Ramadan, which begins this year on March 10 or 11, depending on the lunar calendar.

Tuesday's decision came in agreement with top Israeli security officials during a meeting on preparations ahead of Ramadan, the statement said.

"During the first week of Ramadan, the entry of worshippers to the Temple Mount will be permitted, similar to the numbers in previous years," it said, using the Jewish name for the site. "A weekly assessment of the security and safety aspects will be held; a decision will be made accordingly."

In Muslim tradition, it is from the Al-Aqsa compound that the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven, and tens of thousands of Muslims usually visit the mosque every day during Ramadan.

Ramadan this year comes as Israel wages a relentless military campaign in the Gaza Strip, where it has killed over 30,600 people since October 7.