RAMALLAH: More than 200,000 worshippers performed their Eid Al-Fitr prayers peacefully at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Monday, the first day of the religious festival.
Al-Aqsa’s courtyards were packed 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.
The worshippers affirmed that they would remain loyal to Al-Aqsa Mosque — in Ramadan and after the holy month — and remain steadfast in their pledge 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.
In the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, southern West Bank, about 3,000 performed Eid prayers as the recitation of holy verses rang out from all the mosques in the town.
In Ramallah, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh laid flowers at the tomb of the late President Yasser Arafat at the presidential headquarters.
Shtayyeh offered Eid greetings to Palestinians in every part of the world and salutations to the prisoners in Israeli jails and the families of the martyrs who were missing their children on this occasion.
He said that this occasion “passes on our people as they face the hateful occupation with all its measures,” adding “that our people in the diaspora, in the camps of Lebanon, Syria, Europe, the US, Latin America, 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 one, not a religious one.”
Those in other areas of Palestine offered Eid prayers at mosques and public squares, visited the graves of fellow 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 the faithful to visit those who had lost their loved ones, whose dear ones were imprisoned, and to alleviate the pain of the wounded.
Palestinians have witnessed a bloody Ramadan this year, with 18 killed by Israeli bullets and more than 1,000 wounded. Israeli forces have arrested at least 600 civilians.
Even until Eid morning, the towns of the West Bank were not free of incursions and clashes with the Israeli army. Three young men were wounded with live bullets during an army raid in Ni'lin, west of Ramallah, coinciding with Eid prayers.
The army claimed the injuries were sustained during confrontations with young men in the town.
Palestinian sources said clashes erupted 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.