Tens of thousands of worshippers have descended on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for the first Friday prayers after US President Donald Trump announced his Middle East plan to resolve the decades-old Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Despite the cold weather made worse by rain and strong winds, men, women and children responded to the call for prayer from the 14-hectare (35-acre) compound in Jerusalem, where the Dome of the Rock and the adjacent silver-domed Al-Aqsa Mosque are located.
People promised to show a strong presence at the holy site following Trump’s announcement on Tuesday that the city, where the al-Haram al-Sharif or the Noble Sanctuary is located, would remain the “undivided capital” of Israel.
“The deal is humiliating and unacceptable. Trump wants to deny us access to our Al-Aqsa. This holy site is ours. We will never give it up,” said Um Khaled al-Jawabri, who lives in a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank.
“Even if it requires sacrificing all our blood, Palestine’s capital will always be Jerusalem,” he said.
Under Trump’s plan, the eighth-century site, regarded by Muslims as the third holiest site in Islam and important for all three Abrahamic faiths, would be under Israeli control.
In 1947, the United Nations drew up a plan to divide Palestine between Jews and Palestinians, leading to the creation of Israel. Since then, the Al-Aqsa compound has been under UN administration.
Palestinians decry the increasing Israeli encroachment over the site, which intensified after the 1967 war, which resulted in an Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, where the Old City and the Mosque are located.