Amid tensions Palestinians attend third Ramadan Friday prayers

Thousands of Muslim worshippers crossed West Bank checkpoints into Jerusalem on Friday to attend Friday Ramadan prayers in the Old City’s Al-Aqsa mosque.

There were separate lanes for men and women, who all underwent security checks before entering the holy city, Reuters reported.

Earlier on Friday, Israel’s military hit sites in Lebanon and Gaza in retaliation for rocket attacks it blamed on the Islamist group Hamas, as tensions following police raids this week on the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem threatened to spiral out of control, according to Reuters report.

The strikes came in response to rocket attacks from Lebanon towards northern Israeli areas, which Israeli officials blamed on Hamas. The military said 34 rockets were launched from Lebanon, of which 25 were intercepted by air defense systems. It was the biggest such attack since 2006, when Israel fought a war with the heavily armed Hezbollah movement.

The cross-border strikes came amid an escalating confrontation over Israeli police raids at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which this year coincides with the Jewish Passover holiday.

Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) announced last month that Palestinian women and children under 12 and men over 55 would be allowed to cross to Jerusalem on Friday without a permit to mark Ramadan rituals, which they say it applied for this Friday.