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RAMALLAH: More than 200,000 worshipers peacefully performed their Eid al-Fitr prayers inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Monday, the first day of the religious holiday.

Al-Aqsa’s courtyards were filled with pilgrims from Jerusalem, the West Bank and Palestinians living in Israel.

An atmosphere of joy and happiness prevailed among those who could reach the mosque, and volunteers distributed toys to children in the Dome of the Rock area.

Worshipers have affirmed that they will remain loyal to Al-Aqsa Mosque – during Ramadan and after the holy month – and remain true to their commitment to protect Al-Aqsa, Islam’s third holiest site.

Buses carrying Palestinians from different areas left for Al-Aqsa in the early hours of the morning.

At the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, in the southern West Bank, around 3,000 people performed Eid prayers as the recitation of holy verses rang out from all mosques across the city.

In Ramallah, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh laid flowers at the grave of the late President Yasser Arafat at the presidential headquarters.

Shtayyeh offered Eid greetings to Palestinians from all parts of the world and to prisoners in Israeli jails and families of martyrs who missed their children on the occasion.

He said this opportunity “passes over our people as they face the heinous occupation with all its measures”, adding “that our people in the Diaspora, in the camps of Lebanon, Syria, Europe, from the United States, from Latin America, from Africa and wherever they are, look at Jerusalem.

He said the Palestinian issue was back on the international agenda and that “the Palestinian struggle against the occupation is a political struggle, not a religious one.”

Those from other parts of Palestine offered Eid prayers in mosques and public squares, visited the graves of other Palestinians killed by Israeli bullets, visited the wounded in hospitals and their homes, and met the families of prisoners in Israeli jails.

The martyrs, the wounded and the prisoners symbolize the struggle of the Palestinians, who have suffered under Israeli occupation for more than seven decades.

During their Eid sermons, preachers urged worshipers to visit those who had lost loved ones, whose loved ones were imprisoned, and to ease the pain of the injured.

Palestinians have witnessed a bloody Ramadan this year, with 18 killed by Israeli bullets and more than 1,000 injured. Israeli forces arrested at least 600 civilians.

Even until the morning of Eid, West Bank towns were not exempt from incursions and clashes with the Israeli army. Three young men were injured by live ammunition in an army raid in Ni’lin, west of Ramallah, coinciding with Eid prayers.

The army said the injuries were sustained in clashes with young men in the town.

Palestinian sources said clashes broke out with the army in the village of Burqa, northwest of Nablus, and clashes erupted in the town of Qabatiya, south of Jenin, where Israeli forces targeted young men with tear gas.


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