Hundreds of Palestinians Prevented from entering Jerusalem during Ramadhan*
The Israeli authorities prevented hundreds of Palestinians from entering Jerusalem to pray in Al-Aqsa Mosque on the first Friday of Ramadhan, Anadolu news agency reported.
Witnesses said the Israeli authorities have imposed strict security measures at checkpoints erected between the West Bank and Jerusalem, inspecting Palestinians’ identity cards and preventing men under the age of 50 and women under 40 from entering Jerusalem.
Hundreds of Palestinians were left waiting outside the checkpoints while trying to reach Al-Aqsa Mosque to perform their prayers.
43-year-old Abdul Rahman Al-Hajjar told Anadolu that:
“I have been waiting outside the Qalandiya checkpoint separating Ramallah and Jerusalem for several hours because the Israeli soldiers prevented me from crossing in order to perform Friday prayers.” He added that,
“Hundreds of soldiers are present at the checkpoint to inspect Palestinians’ identity cards and prevent the entry of hundreds of [Palestinian] residents.”
Ibrahim Shamali from the city of Nablus is one of dozens of Palestinians who are trying to access Jerusalem through the side streets or by trying to climb the security wall separating Jerusalem and the West Bank. Shamali told Anadolu:
“Israel prevents us from reaching Jerusalem and separates the holy city from the West Bank, but we challenge the security measures and we will come to Jerusalem by climbing the wall or taking other roads.”
Israeli radio quoted the occupation authorities as saying that the police had “decided to impose restrictions on the entry of Palestinian residents of the [occupied] West Bank coming to Al-Aqsa Mosque to perform the first Friday prayers in the holy month of Ramadhan. The Israeli police will only allow men over the age of 50 and women over the age of 40 to enter the mosque,” adding that, “Residents of the city of Hebron and its surroundings are entirely banned from entering Jerusalem.”
Each year during the month of Ramadhan, Israel usually only allows Palestinians over the age of 40 to enter occupied east Jerusalem.
Israel has intensified its security measures in the occupied West Bank after the disappearance and killing of three Israeli settlers near Hebron. Israel accuses the Islamic resistance movement Hamas of the incident, but Hamas has denied the accusations.
The Israeli army has been engaged in a military operation in the occupied West Bank for three weeks now searching for the kidnappers, during which time hundreds of Hamas leaders and MPs were arrested and a number of Palestinians killed.