Thousands Pray at Al-Aqsa for Eid al-Adha; King Abdullah Shuns Netanyahu “Until Further Notice”

The Ma’an News Agency reported today, Thursday, September 24, that worshipers began arriving at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem in the early hours of the morning, with around 50,000 Palestinians entering the holy site for the religious holiday, according to Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, head of the Islamic Waqf which runs Al-Aqsa.

Dozens of youths marched after prayers in support of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, raising the flags of Arab states and calling for protection of the holy site.Some demonstrators wore t-shirts reading “Al-Aqsa is in danger” and called for Palestinian political unity. Following prayers, Palestinians greeted each other and distributed gifts and candy to children for the holiday. Worshipers also visited Islamic cemeteries after leaving the mosque.

Muslim worshipers during morning prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque for the feast of Eid-al-Adha, September 24, 2015

Muslim worshipers during morning prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque for the feast of Eid-al-Adha, September 24, 2015 (photo: Ma’an News Agency)

Eid al-Adha — the Feast of Sacrifice — is one of the most important holidays in the Muslim calendar. It includes the pilgrimage to holy city of Mecca, known as “Haj”, which is one of the five pillars of Islam and supposed to be undertaken by every Muslim who can afford to do so.

Thursday’s Eid al-Adha celebrations came after Jerusalem was placed under tight security the day prior, with thousands of Israeli police deployed across Palestinian neighborhoods and checkpoints between the city and the West Bank closed, as is usual for Yom Kippur.Israeli police announced Wednesday that all non-Muslim worship would be prevented at the Al-Aqsa compound on Thursday for the Muslim holiday, according to Israeli media.The move came as an alleged attempt to defuse tensions in the occupied city, where Palestinians have been put under heavy restrictions for entrance to the holy site in recent weeks.Next week, Jews celebrate Sukkot, a holiday that usually leads to an increase in visits to the Al-Aqsa compound, known to Jews as Temple Mount.

Report: Jordan King Shuns Netanyahu “Until Further Notice”

In a related matter, the London-based Arab newspaper Rai Al-Youm reported on Wednesday, that according to sources in Amman, King Abdullah refuses to speak to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu until further notice.

The report said that the reason for the king’s cold shoulder is the recent violence on Temple Mount.The London-based Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi also reported that the Jordanian Foreign Ministry has rejected messages from Jerusalem, which it called “misleading.” Last year, during similar unrest in Jerusalem’s Holy Basin, Jordan recalled its ambassador to Israel after expressing its grave dismay to the Israeli ambassador. According to Rai Al-Youm, Jordan has decided to change tactics and now lobbies forcefully for a UN Security Council resolution rebuking Israel’s conduct.

King Abdullah has stepped up its rhetoric recently, saying after a meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron that unless Israel changes course, its bilateral relations with Jordan will be damaged.The message was echoed by the holder of the Palestinian portfolio in the Jordanian Foreign Ministry, who told the Hamas-affiliated newspaper Al-Risala that unless Israel changes its ways, they will take increased diplomatic steps against it. He didn’t rule out expelling the Israeli ambassador.

Earlier this week, King Abdullah met with Arab-Israeli lawmakers and vehemently condemned Israel. “Al-Aqsa Mosque is for Muslim worship only,” he said, and rejected the idea of sharing it with other religions.Israel’s “provocative” policy of “Judaizing” Jerusalem’s holy places will bear grave consequences for the entire region, he added.