Muslims across the Arab world on Tuesday marked the first day of the four-day Eid al-Adha holiday.
At East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, tens of thousands of Palestinian Muslims performed Eid prayers amid a heavy Israeli security presence.
Firas al-Dibs, a spokesman for Jerusalem’s Jordan-run Religious Endowments Authority, estimated the number of worshippers at 100,000, many of whom, he said, had come from the Israeli-occupied West Bank and from elsewhere in the Arab and Muslim world.
In a sermon delivered before Eid prayers, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, Jerusalem’s grand mufti, reiterated the Palestinians’ determination to defend the Al-Aqsa “from the [Israeli] occupation’s ongoing efforts to Judaize it”.
In the West Bank city of Ramallah, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah — in a brief address delivered after Eid prayers — said the Palestinian leadership continued to put Jerusalem “at the top of its list of priorities”.
Hamdallah praised the city’s embattled Palestinian residents, who, he said, “steadfastly resist the schemes of the [Israeli] occupation”.
Read: Eid Al-Adha in Ramallah
“The Palestinian leadership remains committed… to establish an independent Palestinian state on pre-1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital,” he asserted.
In Gaza City, meanwhile, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh delivered an Eid sermon in which he predicted that Israel’s 11-year blockade of Gaza was “about to come to an end” thanks to Palestinian resistance rallies that remain underway along the Gaza-Israel buffer zone.
In Beirut, Lebanese Grand Mufti Sheikh Amin al-Kurdi delivered an Eid sermon in which he called on Muslims around the world to “always remember the cause of Al-Aqsa”.
In Egypt, millions of Muslims performed Eid prayers in over 5,000 public spaces across the country, while mosque imams in nearby Jordan delivered sermons on the sanctity of human life.
And in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, President Omar al-Bashir used the occasion to urge rebel groups — and opposition parties — to join the political reconciliation process.
In remarks broadcast on state-run television, al-Bashir offered an amnesty to all members of armed rebel groups who voluntarily chose to lay down their arms.
“This blessed occasion provides a fresh opportunity for us to renew our commitment to implementing genuine national dialogue,” he asserted.