Muslim worshipers to be allowed into Al-Aqsa after Eid Al-Fitr

The site has also been closed to all non-Muslim visitors, including Jews.

Pilgrims and tourists outside Al-Aqsa Mosque after the second prayer of the day (photo credit: SHAKIR RIMZY)
Pilgrims and tourists outside Al-Aqsa Mosque after the second prayer of the day
(photo credit: SHAKIR RIMZY)
The Wakf Islamic religious trust on Tuesday announced al-Aqsa Mosque will be reopened for prayer after Eid al-Fitr (Muslim festival ending Ramadan), which begins this weekend.
The announcement was made after an emergency meeting of the Jordanian-controlled Wakf in east Jerusalem to review its previous decision to close the site to worshipers due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Wakf has faced increasing pressure from Muslim worshipers to reopen the Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary)/Temple Mount compound for prayers after both Israel and the Palestinian Authority eased restrictions imposed last March to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The site also has been closed to all non-Muslim visitors, including Jews.
The decision to reopen the compound was taken “in light of the relative decline of the spread of the virus and after consulting with specialized medical parties,” the Wakf said in a statement.
The Wakf announced the closure of the site in mid-March and said only its employees would be permitted to pray there as part of precautionary measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
On the eve of the fasting month of Ramadan, the Wakf and the Palestinian mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Mohammad Hussein, also banned the Taraweeh ritual prayers performed by Muslims at night after the iftar fast-breaking meal. They urged Muslims to pray at home out of concern for their health.
Last week, the Wakf said the precautionary measures that necessitated the decision to suspend the entrance of Muslim worshipers to al-Aqsa Mosque were still in place, adding that medical professionals had warned against lifting the closure to ensure the safety of the worshipers.
Despite the ban, the mosque was not completely closed, as the call to prayer continued and some employees held five daily prayers there, the Wakf said. “The issue of lifting the suspension is not subject to religious emotions or pressure,” it said in a statement last week.
Despite the closure of the site, dozens of Muslims from east Jerusalem continued to pray at the entrances to the compound every day over the past two months.
East Jerusalem residents welcomed the decision to lift the ban and said it was long overdue.
“They should have opened it two or three weeks ago,” said Ammar Abu Libdeh, a resident of the Muslim Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem. “How can you keep a mosque closed when people are allowed to go to shopping malls and beaches?”
Mohammad Abu Sneineh, another Old City resident, said he and most Muslims were “very excited” to hear about the Wakf’s decision to end the suspension of prayers at al-Aqsa Mosque. “We miss our mosque,” he said. “It was very sad to see the empty compound, especially during Ramadan.”
Several Muslims were planning to protest the continued closure of the site in the next few days, Abu Sneineh said, adding: “The decision came in the right time. People were running out of patience and were calling on all Muslims to participate in protests against the Wakf.”