JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Players from Saudi Arabia’s national soccer team traveled to Jerusalem’s Old City on Monday to pray at one of Islam’s holiest sites.
The players visited the Noble Sanctuary, a compound that houses the Golden Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest shrine in Islam.
“This is the most beautiful day in my life,” said Yasser Al-Mishal, the president of the Saudi Football Federation.
“Really, it’s hard to express my feelings. I thank God that I could visit al-Aqsa mosque and pray inside the mosque.”
The Dome of the Rock is built where the Prophet Mohammad is said to have ascended to heaven and it encompasses the Foundation Stone, a rock holy to Muslims, Jews and Christians. Jordan has custodianship of the holy sites.
The area is one of the most sensitive sites in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is revered by Jews as Temple Mount, the site of two biblical Jewish temples, and is situated in a part of Jerusalem captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in a move that has not been recognized internationally.
The Saudi players are due to face the Palestinian national team in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday for a World Cup qualifying match.
(Reporting by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Nick Macfie)