The annual Nabi Musa (Prophet Moses) festival began Friday at the shrine of Nabi Musa near Jerusalem, with numerous Palestinians -- along with a number of Turkish nationals -- taking part in the event.
This year's festival was organised by the Palestinian Awqaf (Religious Endowments) Ministry and sponsored by the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA).
According to event organisers, a number of Palestinian and Turkish Sufi bands, including Turkey’s Mevlevi Band, will perform at the festival, which will continue until April 15.
Jericho Governor Majid al-Fityani said in a speech delivered on behalf of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that the festival confirmed the Palestinians’ devotion to their cultural heritage.
"We reaffirm our commitment to our heritage, our continued survival on our land, and our opposition to the [Israeli] settlements and occupation," he said. "On this day, 68 year ago, Zionist gangs committed the Deir Yassin massacre near Jerusalem. On this anniversary, we reaffirm our right to our land, to exercise our right to live and resist until we achieve national independence."
Mustafa Sarnic, Turkey’s consul-general in Jerusalem, said his participation in this year’s festival reflected the historical and religious ties between the Palestinian and Turkish people and his country’s commitment to the Palestinian cause.
"The Turkish government continues to support the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip through projects and institution-building in order to improve the lives of the Palestinian people," said Sarnic.
"We will not abandon you," he added. "We will remain at your side until the end of the occupation."
Awqaf Minister Youssef Ideiss, for his part, praised Palestinian government oversight of activities at the Nabi Musa shrine.
"This festival dates back to the reign of Salah al-Din," Ideiss said.
Since 2014, he added, TIKA -- the festival’s official sponsor -- had played a "significant role" in refurbishing the shrine.
Following the Israeli occupation in 1967, the Nabi Musa festival was temporarily banned. In 1997, however, the Palestinian Authority -- through the Awqaf Ministry -- began holding the festival again.
The Nabi Musa shrine stands on an area of 4,200 square metres and is located some 15 kilometres east of Jerusalem.