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World

AFP
May 31, 2020

COVID-19: Al-Aqsa mosque reopens after two months

World

AFP
Sun, May 31, 2020
Photo: AFP

Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem reopened on Sunday after being closed for more than two months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

An AFP journalist said worshippers in protective masks were allowed to enter the compound in the early hours, ahead of the first prayers of the day.

Singing "God is greatest, we will protect Al-Aqsa with our soul and blood", the group was welcomed by the mosque's director Omar al-Kiswani, who thanked them for their patience.

The compound, located in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, closed its doors in March as part of measures to limit the spread of the deadly new disease. It houses the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, both of which were opened Sunday.

On the first day of the Eid holiday, scuffles had broken out between Israeli police and Palestinians as worshippers tried to break through barriers to enter the compound.

Known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif, the site is under the custodianship of neighbouring Jordan, which controlled the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, up until occupation by Israel in the Six-Day War of 1967.

With the number of COVID-19 cases declining, in recent days both Israel and the Palestinian territories have eased restrictions.