Jerusalem tensions: 250,000 gather for Laylat Al Qadr at Al Aqsa

Faithful meet peacefully despite previous violence at the site and killings in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem

At least 250,000 people gathered late on Wednesday night to attend prayers at Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque to mark Laylat Al Qadr just days before the end of Ramadan, Islamic religious authorities in Jerusalem said.

The faithful gathered at the mosque, one of Islam’s holiest sites, close to the golden-topped Dome of the Rock, a Muslim shrine.

Laylat Al Qadr, or Night of Power — traditionally celebrated on the 27th night of Ramadan — is the anniversary that marks the revelation of the first and some of the most important verses of the Quran to the Prophet Mohammed.

Following the prayers, many stayed to share food and congregate.

Worshippers gathered amid heightened tension between Israel and the Palestinians following a series of deadly attacks inside Israel, arrests in the occupied West Bank, clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound, and rocket fire from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip for the first time in months.

No untoward incident was reported, however, in the West Bank town of Jenin, where Israeli forces killed a man during what it called a "counterterrorism" raid.

Al Aqsa Mosque is the third-holiest site in Islam after Makkah and Madinah. But it also is one of the most sensitive flashpoints in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Muslims believe the Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven from the site.

The mosque can accommodate up to 300,000 worshippers.

The latest tension comes as Jordan is pushing for talks with Israel to restore the status of the holy site under its custodianship.

The new diplomatic effort is "to deal with the roots of the tension and ensure that matters don't explode again", a Jordanian official told Reuters.

He said the US had recently been given a paper that "clearly" stated the kingdom's position.

Jordan, whose ruling Hashemite family has custodianship of the Muslim and Christian sites, says that since 2000 Israel has undermined a centuries-old tradition under which non-Muslims do not worship in the mosque compound.

Rain in Makkah as worshippers gather for Laylat Al Qadr - in pictures

Updated: April 28, 2022, 8:03 AM