Despite Israeli restrictions, an estimated 80,000 worshippers assembled at the Al-Aqsa Mosque for the first Friday prayers of Ramadan. Israeli security measures were in effect around the vicinity of the mosque, with a heavy presence of security personnel. Thousands of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank were denied entry to Jerusalem.

Access to the mosque remains restricted, primarily limiting entry to men over 55 and women over 50, provided they possess valid permits.

Al-Aqsa Mosque Director Omar Kiswani noted that it is the inherent right of all Muslims to enter the mosque, irrespective of their geographic location. He criticised the imposition of permits by Israeli authorities, arguing that access to the holy site should be unrestricted. Kiswani likened the current situation to a large prison. The pervasive presence of Israeli soldiers, police, and law enforcement personnel transforms the sacred grounds into what he describes as resembling a military camp rather than a place of worship.

Meanwhile, reports say Hamas, the governing authority in Gaza, has submitted a new truce proposal to mediators in Egypt and Qatar, outlining its perspective on a potential prisoner swap. The three-stage ceasefire plan schedules a gradual approach to de-escalation, with each stage of the ceasefire lasting 42 days.

In the first stage, Hamas proposes that Israeli forces withdraw beyond Salah al-Din Street near Gaza City to facilitate the return of displaced Palestinians to their homes. In exchange, Hamas would commit to releasing a female Israeli reservist for every 50 Palestinians released by Israel.

The second stage entails the announcement of a permanent ceasefire before Hamas releases any Israeli soldiers held captive. Finally, the third stage would see an end to Israel’s siege on Gaza and the commencement of reconstruction efforts in the region.

Palestinian political figure Marwan Barghouti voiced concerns regarding Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s potential obstruction of proposed deals, citing fears of facing consequences, including imprisonment, once the conflict subsides.

As Israel continues with its war on Gaza, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has announced plans to undertake a diplomatic mission to engage with key regional stakeholders. Meetings are scheduled with Jordan’s King Abdullah, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and President Isaac Herzog. The primary objectives of Chancellor Scholz’s visit include advocating for increased aid delivery to Gaza and cautioning against the prospect of an Israeli ground offensive in Rafah.

Since 7 October, Israeli forces have killed 31,490 Palestinians and wounded 73,439 others.