Palestinians perform Eid prayers at Al Aqsa mosque compound

Worshippers held their prayer rugs and flocked to mosques around the Middle East to observe Eid al-Fitr prayers, the first since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eid al-Fitr is the Muslim holiday that marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan and Muslims around the world gather for prayer just after dawn on the first day, which this year falls on Thursday (May 13).

Last year, restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus closed mosques and forced many to stay home and under lockdown, disappointing millions who see it as a holiday staple.

“We were previously deprived of praying in the mosque during Eid but thank God, this year we did, and may God hear our prayers,” said Lebanese citizen Mahmoud Ayyara, after praying in central Beirut.

From Iraq to Lebanon, many Muslims this year took precautionary measures as governments allowed prayers to be held, but still lacked the usual masses that spill outside of the mosque grounds and into the surrounding streets and alleyways.

But in Jerusalem, hundreds gathered in Al-Aqsa mosque, which just days ago was the site of clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian youth amid growing anger over the potential eviction of Palestinians from homes on land claimed by Jewish settlers.

Thousands gathered to perform the Eid prayer at the Al Aqsa mosque in East Jerusalem, which has been the target of violence and aggression by Israeli occupation forces this week.

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