Holy month of Ramadan starts for Muslims in Middle East in the midst of war

Muslims gathered at the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem on Sunday to celebrate the start of Ramadan. While the mosque has been flashpoint for the escalation of Israeli-Palestinian violence, Tel Aviv assured they would not restrict worshiping in the site.

Muslims gathered at the Al-Aqsa mosque on Temple Mount in Jerusalem on Sunday to celebrate the start of the holy month of Ramadan in the midst of the bloodiest war in the region for the last quarter-century.

The Al-Aqsa mosque has frequently been a flashpoint for the quick escalation of Israeli-Palestinian violence in the past. Up until recently, Israeli security services were enforcing restrictions on those who wanted to pray there.

Yet, on Sunday, the Israeli War Cabinet minister Benny Gantz said that freedom of worship will not be restricted in Temple Mount.

“Our war is not against Islam, but against those who hurt Islam values. Against those who commit crimes against humanity and sought to tear apart the Israeli society and our common future,” Gantz said.

Ramadan overshadowed by war in Gaza
As Muslims across the world savor the traditions of their own diverse communities — from holiday treats to evening diversions — the tribulations faced by fellow Muslims are never far from anyone’s mind. This year, war and starvation in the Gaza Strip casts an especially dark shadow on the festivities.

In the Palestinian enclave, the faithful do not have many options to celebrate the start of the Holy Month. Earlier this year, Gazan authorities reported that more than 1000 mosques were destroyed and heavily damaged during the war.

Gazan and Israeli officials failed to reach a highly-anticipated truce for the duration of Ramadan, despite several rounds of negotiations.

Both sides blame each other for the failed talks. Tel Aviv once withdrew from negotiations claiming Hamas refused to give a complete list of hostages still alive in Gaza.

On Sunday, Hamas’ top leader Ismail Haniyeh that Israel was “evaded giving clear guarantees” regarding the ceasefire and the withdrawal of IDF from the territory. He emphasized that no hostage will be released without permanent ceasefire.

(Source: Euronews with Associated Press)