JERUSALEM: Thousands of Palestinians from east Jerusalem came together on Saturday to clean Al-Aqsa Mosque and its surroundings in preparation for the Islamic month of Ramadan.
Nearly 10,000 volunteers arrived in the city from around occupied Palestinian territories to clean the paved gardens of the mosque’s compound, maintain surrounding tombs, and prepare the interior of the mosque for the influx of worshippers expected at the start of the holy month.
The mass event was organized by the Islamic Movement in Palestine, for the 13th year running.
“Over 150 buses arrived in Jerusalem on Saturday full of men, women, and children ready to get to work,” said a statement by the organizers.
Al-Aqsa and its surrounding compound regularly welcome over 100,000 worshippers during the month of fasting.
Over 400,000 Muslims from across the globe came to pray on Laylat al-Qadr, the holiest night of prayer, in 2016.
The month of Ramadan will coincide this year with the 74th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba.
The time period will also mark a year since the wave of Palestinian protests launched during the month of Ramadan last year, dubbed “The May Uprising”, triggered by Israeli authorities’ violent dispersal of worshipers at Al-Aqsa Mosque and attempts to displace Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
Tensions remain high in the city, following the killing of nine Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
One of them, a 19-year-old, was killed by Israeli police after he allegedly stabbed and injured two Israeli soldiers in Jerusalem’s old city.
Another 16-year-old was killed by the Israeli army during a raid in the town of Abu Dis, south of Jerusalem.