Muslims gather in Jerusalem for first Ramadan Friday prayers

Crowds of worshippers have gathered at a Jerusalem holy site the first Friday prayers of Ramadan, Islam's holiest month.

Israeli police said more than 135,000 worshippers prayed at al-Aqsa mosque in the sacred compound, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount.

The prayers passed peacefully at the flashpoint holy site, considered the third-holiest spot in Islam, as thousands of Israeli police patrolled the streets of the Old City.

Muslims across the Middle East and some Southeast Asian countries commenced Ramadan on Monday, according to the lunar calendar. The faithful fast the entire month from dawn to dusk in fulfillment of one of the five pillars of Islam, aimed at drawing worshippers closer to God through devotion and self-discipline.