A Palestinian man reads the Koran in al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City during the holy month of Ramadan.
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD)
More than 300,000 Muslims from east Jerusalem, the West Bank and several countries peacefully gathered overnight Wednesday at al-Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount to observe Laylat al-Qadr, one of Ramadan’s holiest nights.
Laylat al-Qadr, or Night of Power, is usually observed on the 27th day of Ramadan.
Based on Muslim liturgy, prayer on the holy night is said to be better than 1,000 months of prayers, due to “the abundance of mercy and blessings shown by Allah” during a time when the Koran was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.
Al-Aksa Mosque is the third-holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, believed by the faithful to be where Muhammad ascended to heaven on a horse after arriving from Mecca to deliver the Koran.
According to the Jordanian Islamic Wakf, which administers the contested holy site, parishioners ascended the compound from Malaysia, Turkey, South Africa, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, Jordan and Indonesia.
During a sermon, Sheikh Omar Kiswani, the mosque’s director, said the masses of worshipers who attended the overnight prayers “confirms to the entire world that they came here to reaffirm the Islamic nature of this mosque and defend it,” the Palestinian WAFA news agency reported.
Police have implemented enhanced security measures for the final Friday prayers at the mosque, one week after a terrorist murdered female Border Police officer St.-Sgt- Maj. Hadas Malka, 23, by Damascus Gate.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, following a protracted undercover investigation, police arrested an Arab east Jerusalem resident accused of taking part in terrorist activities and inciting violence against Jews.
“The suspect has served a sentence in Israeli prisons for being part of a terrorist organization and incitement to terrorism,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. “He served eight months and just nine months ago was released from prison.”
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Upon his release, the unidentified suspect became active in a Ramallah- based terrorist cell, he said.
“The suspect was arrested by Border Police undercover counterterrorism units in an Arab neighborhood in Jerusalem and will appear before the Jerusalem court [on Friday],” Rosenfeld said.
“Police units and counterintelligence will continue to find suspects involved in terrorism and suspects that are actively involved in incitement to terrorism,” he said.