Despite assurances, Israel restricts entry of Palestinian youth into Al-Aqsa during Ramadan

Occupying forces have killed over 400 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank since October 7 and detained over 7,500 of them in violent and destructive raids

March 13, 2024 by Peoples Dispatch
Screenshot of a video showing Israeli occupation forces tying up and dragging away six Palestinian youths on March 11, 2024. Photo: Wafa News Agency

The Islamic Waqf Department claimed that nearly 35,000 Palestinians gathered at Al-Aqsa mosque on the first night of Ramadan on Monday, March 11, despite the restrictions imposed by the Israeli occupation forces amidst the war in Gaza.

Israeli forces stopped young Palestinians from going inside the mosque compound. They also attacked and injured one Palestinian man near Bab al-Zahra, one of the gates leading to Al-Aqsa Mosque before detaining him. They later detained the mosque’s guard Khalil al-Tarhouni from his home and took him for investigation, Wafa News Agency reported.

Israel had earlier announced that it would not impose fresh restrictions on Palestinian worshipers visiting Al-Aqsa mosque after opposition to a proposed move to limit access. Earlier, it had proposed that any Palestinians below the age of 70 will not be allowed to visit the mosque during the month of Ramadan. The restrictions were suggested by Israel’s extremist leader and Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir who also proposed limiting the number of Palestinians allowed inside the mosque during Ramadan. 

However, the restrictions on Palestinian youth on Monday are seen as a fresh attempt to implement this policy. Jordan, which oversees the management of what is considered as Islam’s third holiest site, warned Israel against any such attempt. On Monday, its Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi underlined that Israel’s attempts to impose restrictions on the worshipers could provoke a large-scale uprising in the occupied territories.

“Not allowing worshipers to perform their religious duties and their rituals in this holy month and restricting freedom to enter the Al-Aqsa mosque, all that pushes towards an explosive situation which is what we are warning about,” Safadi said.

The Israeli occupation has been aggressively trying to limit Palestinian access to Al-Aqsa mosque in the last few years by carrying repeated attacks on worshipers during Ramadan in particular when a larger number of them visit the mosque for prayers.

In the last few years, hundreds of Palestinians were arrested or wounded in those attacks by the Israeli forces. Meanwhile, it continues to allow extremist settlers to storm the mosque compound and perform rituals which are not allowed as per the agreement between Jordan and Israel following the Israeli occupation in 1967. 

Extremist Jewish settlers claim the mosque to be the site of the mythical Jewish temple and call it Temple Mount. They have led a movement to convert the mosque into a temple and completely prevent Palestinians from visiting. On several occasions, these extremist settlers have attacked Palestinians under Israeli security cover. On some occasions, they have been accompanied by Ben Gvir himself.

Israeli forces attack and kill two in Tulkarm

At least two Palestinians were shot and killed by Israeli occupation forces in Tulkarm in the occupied West Bank on the first day of Ramadan on Monday. Israel’s undercover agents shot at the two young Palestinians later identified as Mohammad Jaafar Mustafa Jabr and Tawfiq Aed Fawad Hussein when they were sitting inside a shop in Attil town near Tulkarm.

Occupation forces prevented the medical treatment of Jaafar who bled to death. His body was later taken by the occupation forces to an unknown location. Tawfiq died in hospital later.

Israeli forces also continued with their mass arrests inside the occupied West Bank by arresting over 25 individuals on Monday and Tuesday. According to the Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS) a total of over 7,555 Palestinians have been arrested by the occupation forces since October 7. Some of them were released later.

On Monday, Israeli forces raided Al-Issawiya town near occupied Jerusalem and detained six Palestinian youth, tying them with a rope and dragging them into the street in a humiliating way.

Israeli occupation forces attacked and besieged at least seven homes in the Jenin refugee camp on Tuesday. At least two Palestinians were injured in the attack.

Israeli forces have killed over 400 Palestinians, including over 100 children in the occupied West Bank since October 7. They carry out daily raids on refugee camps and destroy Palestinian houses and other civilian infrastructure. They have often laid siege to some of the camps for days in deliberate attempts to terrorize people.