GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Um Aref Yusef last saw Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1999, never to be allowed to visit again as a result of the complicated travel restrictions imposed by Israel on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
Yusef, 72, looked longingly at a picture of the gilded Dome of the Rock, hanging on a wall in her house in the Nasr neighborhood of Gaza City. “I can still smell the aroma of its old walls. I can never forget the thrill of praying in its midst. The time I spent in that place is a dream that I hope will repeat itself before death takes me away,” she told Al-Monitor.