Israel on Friday imposed restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the Al-Aqsa Mosque in annexed East Jerusalem for the third consecutive day.
Israeli police stepped up security around the mosque, deploying 2,000 troops in Jerusalem and erected roadblocks at entrances to Jerusalem’s Old City.
“Police prevent men under 50 and West Bankers from entering Al-Aqsa compound or Friday prayers,” Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, director-general of the Organization for Muslim Endowments and Al-Aqsa Affairs, told the Turkish Anadolu Agency.
Jews celebrated the start of Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) on Wednesday evening, the first day of new Jewish year of 5775.
Israel typically imposes restrictions on Muslim worshipers’ access to Al-Aqsa during Jewish holidays
The Israeli authorities also closed the Ibrahimi Mosque to Muslims in the West Bank city of Hebron on Wednesday and Thursday for Rosh Hashanah.
Israel is also closing the Gaza Strip’s only functioning commercial crossing – the Kerem Shalom border terminal – for four days starting Thursday for the Jewish holiday.
Khatib said that while Israel restricts the entry of Palestinians into Al-Aqsa mosque compound, it facilitates the entry of Zionist settlers into the holy site.
He said that at least 300 Zionist settlers and 120 Israeli soldiers had forced their way into the compound in the past three days.
In recent months, groups of extremist settlers – often accompanied by Israeli security forces – have repeatedly forced their way into the flashpoint compound.
The frequent violations anger Palestinian Muslims and occasionally lead to violent confrontations.
For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world’s third holiest site.
Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the “Temple Mount,” claiming it was the site of two prominent Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the Zionist state – a move never recognized by the international community.
In September 2000, a visit to the site by controversial Israeli leader Ariel Sharon sparked what later became known as the “Second Intifada” – a popular uprising against the Israeli occupation in which thousands of Palestinians were killed.
Clashes erupted Wednesday between Palestinians and Israeli forces in Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem after dozens of Zionist settlers– led by two government ministers and backed by Israeli police – forced their way into the holy compound, a Palestinian guard of the complex said.
“Ninety-three settlers protected by 40 Israeli police and special forces forced their way into the holy compound through the Al-Magharbeh Gate,” the guard, who asked not to be named, told Anadolu Agency.
The Zionist settlers were accompanied by Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel and Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, in addition to several Jewish extremist leaders.
In response, some 300 Palestinian Muslim worshipers converged near the Al-Qibali and the Dome of the Rock mosques to protest the intrusion, the guard said.
In a bid to disperse angry Palestinians, Israeli forces fired rubber bullets and teargas, he added.
“At least 16 Palestinians were injured by rubber bullets, including one in the head and two in the abdomen. Around 45 others suffered teargas inhalation,” the guard said.
According to Sheikh Omar al-Qiswani, the Palestinian director of the Al-Aqsa complex, the two ministers took a tour of the compound’s courtyards, passing by the Dome of the Rock, Qibali and Marawani mosques before leaving through the Al-Rahmeh Gate.
Israeli security forces withdrew from the compound after the clashes, the guard said.
“Israeli police and army troops pulled out of the compound after attacking Palestinian worshipers,” he said.
Israeli police have stepped up security at the gates of the Al-Aqsa complex for the second day in a row, barring a number of Palestinians from entering the compound, al-Qiswani said.
“Except for the Al-Magharbeh Gate, where [Jewish] settlers regularly force their way into the complex, the Israeli police closed all other gates with chains,” al-Qiswani said.
Jews will celebrate “Rosh Hashanah” on Wednesday, which will mark the first day of the new Jewish year of 5775.
Groups of extremists called for marking the holiday by storming the Al-Aqsa compound and performing Talmudic rituals.
In recent months, groups of extremist Zionist settlers, often accompanied by Israeli security forces, have stepped up their intrusions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, the world’s third holiest site for Muslims.
For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world’s third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the “Temple Mount,” claiming it was the site of two prominent Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming Jerusalem as the unified capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state – a move never recognized by the international community.
In September 2000, a visit to the site by controversial Israeli leader Ariel Sharon sparked what later became known as the “Second Intifada” – a popular uprising against the Israeli occupation in which thousands of Palestinians were killed and injured.
JERUSALEM – Israeli police on Tuesday morning deployed heavily at all gates of the al-Aqsa Mosque compound imposing restrictions on the entry of Muslim worshipers ahead of the Jewish New Year.
A Ma’an reporter in the holy city said Israeli police denied Palestinian men aged under 45 and all women entry to the mosque. Women and men under 45 had to perform dawn prayer in the streets outside the compound, she added.
In addition, police kept all gates closed except the Chain gate and the Council gate where police officers deployed heavily and scrutinized ID cards of worshipers.
Dozens of young men and women who were barred from al-Aqsa gathered outside the gates and chanted slogans denouncing Israeli police procedures and affirming it was their right to access the holy place.
Director of the Jerusalem office of the Palestinian ministry of endowment Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib told Ma’an that Tuesday’s closures of the compound were in preparation for Jewish holidays.
He said Knesset member Miri Regev from the Likud party who chairs the Knesset’s interior and security committee had asked the police to prepare the grounds for visits by Jews during holidays.
“We expect very difficult days in al-Aqsa during the upcoming Jewish holidays,” al-Khatib said.
Israeli forces regularly escort Jewish visitors to the site, leading to tension with Palestinian worshipers.
The compound, which sits just above the Western Wall plaza, houses both the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque and is the third holiest site in Islam.
It is also venerated as Judaism’s most holy place as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood. The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.
Al-Aqsa is located in East Jerusalem, a part of the internationally recognized Palestinian territories that have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.
There’s something profoundly depressing about the start of this little video clip filmed, by the sound of it, by two young boys, possibly from their bedroom window. As they chatter away, on the other side of an East Jerusalem valley an Israeli “skunk” truck fires high-powered jets of intensely foul-smelling liquid at older youths protesting Israel’s mass arrests policy, carried out under cover of its attack on Gaza.
The truck indiscriminately sprays a wide arc of liquid at homes and cars, a kind of petty collective punishment meant to pollute the Palestinian neighbourhood with the disgusting odour for days.
All of this is just another day in these boys’ experience of occupation. They film the truck like other children might video a cat chasing a ball of wool. Interesting to them, but nothing out of the ordinary.
And then, suddenly, something exceptional happens. The truck falls off the edge of the road, into a ravine. The screams of delight from the boys, and the whoops that seem to echo from the other side of the valley, they are so loud, register a small triumph – a momentary loss of control from the seemingly all-powerful machine that is the occupation.
It is easy, when the headlines have been filled with death and destruction in Gaza, to forget that the occupation is far more relentless and insidious than such spasms of Israeli death-wreaking. It is the monotonous drone of a mechanical, faceless monster seeking to sap all hope from young minds. In that brief interruption, before normal service was resumed, another world was revealed to these boys.
Israel on Thursday approved a further stage in plans to build a nine-story Jewish seminary in the heart of a densely-populated Palestinian neighborhood near Jerusalem’s Old City.
According to the Peace Now settlement watchdog, the committee threw out an appeal tabled by a left-wing council member and approved a new stage in plans for a tower block in Sheikh Jarrah in occupied east Jerusalem.
Should the plans be approved by the district planning committee, construction could begin within the coming year, Peace Now’s Hagit Ofran told AFP.
“It might take six months to a year until it gets final approval for them to start building,” she said of the plan which was tabled in February.
The building will be used as a yeshiva, or Jewish seminary, for ultra-Orthodox Jews.
Sheikh Jarrah is a Palestinian residential neighborhood located to the north of the Old City.
Located on the road which links the Old City to Mount Scopus, the area is considered a strategic location and illegal settlement groups have made persistent efforts to take control of its land.
Israel captured east Jerusalem during the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.
It considers all of Jerusalem its “eternal, indivisible” capital and does not see construction in the eastern sector as settlement building.
Both the Palestinians and the international community consider all Israeli construction on land seized in 1967 to be a violation of international law.
This has not stopped Israel from continuing its policy of illegal settlement in east Jerusalem and the West Bank over the years.
DOHA – The Hamas Movement said it had had no idea at first who kidnapped and killed three Jewish settlers in the West Bank last June, but it described what happened to them as a natural and legitimate act against the illegitimate Israeli occupation.
This came in an explanatory statement released by the Movement on Saturday evening to clarify inaccurate and incomplete media and press interpretations of remarks made on Friday by head of its political bureau Khaled Mishaal in an interview conducted by Yahoo News.
“We did not have prior knowledge of this act which was done by a group of Hamas members, but we do know that any distressed people living under occupation and oppression could do anything to defend themselves,” the Hamas Movement explained.
“The soldiers and settlers in the West Bank are considered ‘assailants’ and live illegally on usurped and occupied Palestinian land, so the Palestinians have the right to resist them,” the Movement reiterated some of what Mishaal said in the interview.
The Movement also included in its statement some of the remarks that were made by Mishaal during the interview in Arabic. The Palestinian Information Center translated these remarks as follows:
“This group of Hamas members are in Al-Khalil and the Israeli investigations have unveiled lately that they had carried out this operation against those armed settlers who practiced, as thousands of other settlers do, their violence in all Palestinian areas. However, we, as the leadership of Hamas, did not know about that. This was known later on.”
“This is part of the [Palestinian] reaction to the occupation and settlement, because as you know the West Bank is an occupied territory according to the international law and the American standards, and the right to self-defense is guaranteed for all.”
“I am talking about something that has been announced as a result of the recent Israeli investigations. We in the political leadership of Hamas are not sure about that, but if that was true, it would be in the context of self-defense against Israeli occupiers whether they are soldiers or settlers. They are not civilians living in other places; they are living in Jerusalem and the West Bank which are occupied territories in accordance with the international law and the American standards.”
In a related context, member of Hamas’s political bureau Saleh Al-Aruri said that what he had previously stated about the kidnapping of three settlers in the West Bank was not a declaration of responsibility for the operation.
Aruri stated in a press release on Saturday that he had made his remarks in this regard based on the results of the recent Israeli investigations.
“The leadership of the Movement had no idea at the time about the group or the operation, but later it turned out that they were a group of Hamas fighters, and about this context was my talk,” the Hamas official explained.
As the Israeli Central Court of Jerusalem releases three youth accused in the recent homicide of 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir, another young Palestinian is found stabbed to death in Silwan, while a 13-year-old child is arrested under the pretext of carrying a knife.
Over the past month, during Israel’s relentless and bloody aggressions on the Gaza Strip, the Jerusalem area has become a crucible of violent confrontations between Palestinians and colonial Jewish settlers and police, with numerous reports of multiple raids and ensuing arrests continuing to surface throughout the West Bank region.
Just following the Israeli Central Court’s decision not to hold three youth who admittedly conspired in the brutal torture and burning of 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khudeir, in early July, local media reported that the police found the body of another young Palestinian in Silwan, south of the Old City of Jerusalem.
PNN sources say that the body had several visible stab wounds but that the Israeli police have declared that the motive behind the crime is not clear.
Meanwhile, Silwanic has reported that Israeli police took into custody one 13-year-old Daoud Sawalha, Thursday night, while he was at the barber shop, in the neighborhood of Ein Al-Lozeh, under the pretext of carrying a knife.
Each year, around 500-700 Palestinian children, some as young as 12, are arrested, detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military detention system, with the majority of Palestinian child detainees being held on charges of throwing stones.
The same day, Silwanic reported that three Israeli settlers attempted to run over a Jerusalemite woman named Ola Alayan, as she was going home to her Bet Safafa residence, south of Jerusalem.
She was verbally assaulted by the settlers but was able to escape the area and safely reach the entrance of the village.
As in the case of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, who was also chosen at random and not for personal reasons, not all Jerusalemite Palestinians are so lucky.
On Thursday, July 31st, a young Palestinian man from Ras Alamoud was reported to have been assaulted by a group of Israeli settlers who attempted to kidnap him after tying him and dragging him to their car.
When the group failed to drag him to their vehicle, they assaulted 21-year-old Ali Mohammed al-Abbasi with a large amount of pepper spray.
Ali’s father confirmed that a fellow co-worker took his son to the hospital, after ambulance and police failed to respond.
The week prior, Amir Shwiki and Samer Mahfouz, both 20 years old and from Beit Khanina, were attacked by settlers with iron bars and baseball bats while walking to a Light Rail station, following the evening Ramadan meal.
The two were seriously wounded and lost consciousness during the beating, upon which they were hospitalized in Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem, Jerusalem.
Violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians and their property is not new to the region, but has been in a state of extreme escalation since the beginning of Israel’s renewed series of attacks on Gaza’s civilian population, with mass solidarity protests resulting in further violent confrontations.
Reports of vandalism, including that of agricultural lands, homes and vehicles, as well as both Christian and Muslim holy sites frequently surface from numerous locations all across Israel and occupied Palestine, with the majority of such acts being perpetrated by colonial settlers, and often with the backing of Israeli military and/or police.
A recent statement by Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem reveals that 60-80,000 Palestinian Jerusalem residents have been without running water for months, with no further reports appearing in regard to appeals made to Hagihon and the Jerusalem Municipality.
Israeli policies against Palestinians have isolated entire communities and turned them into fragmented, isolated ghettos, leaving what remains of the occupied Palestinian territories to now appear as little more than large open-air prisons, from which militant resistance and defiance is the only defense.
JERUSALEM – A mob assaulted two Palestinians as they were walking on the trendy Jaffa street in the center of West Jerusalem on Thursday, their lawyer said, potentially the latest in a string of hate attacks targeting Arabs across Israel in recent weeks.
The two Palestinians — who were identified as Amir Mazin Abu Eisha, 20, and Laith Ubeidat — were injured and subsequently arrested by police, who reportedly said they had threatened people in the crowd “with knives.”
The lawyer for the two Palestinians, Khaldun Nijim, told Ma’an that the two were surrounded by around 20-30 Jewish passerby as they were distributing bread at grocery shops on Jaffa street, the central thoroughfare of West Jerusalem.
After Jewish passerby began verbally and physically assaulting them, he added, “The Israeli police stopped them in their van and pointed guns at them” while the mob “beat them with empty bottles.”
“After they drove away a few meters, the police shot at them. They then stopped and were assaulted again.”
The two sustained injuries in the assault and were detained by Israeli police, who transferred them to the nearby Russian compound police station for “having a knife and obstructing the work of the police.”
An ambulance was called for Abu Eisha to treat his head and ear injuries, but he was prevented from being taken to a hospital for treatment.
Nijim added that a number of members of the mob filed a complaint against the two for “attempting to attack them with a knife,” but he insisted that he planned to file a complaint against the mob and the police officer.
The pair were bailed out and sentenced for 10 days of house arrest.
An Israeli police spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
Cities across Israel have witnessed a string of attacks against Palestinians in recent months, as a “price tag” crime wave that targeted Palestinians inside Israel for perceived slights against Jewish settlements in the West Bank has evolved into recurring mob attacks and anti-Arab rallies.
In recent weeks, Palestinian passerby have been repeatedly assaulted on Jerusalem’s Jaffa street, and one video that showed a young boy being surrounded and assaulted by dozens was shared repeatedly on social media.
Jaffa street has been covered with flyers warning Arabs not to “touch” Jewish women in recent weeks, as part of a right-wing Jewish campaign to prevent mixing among Jews and Arabs.
Although the majority of Palestinians were expelled from their homes inside Israel during the 1948 conflict that led to the creation of the State of Israel, some Palestinians managed to remain in their villages and their descendants today make up around 20 percent of Israel’s population.
In Jerusalem, however, the majority of Palestinians are not Israeli citizens but residents of Jerusalem who fell under Israeli military occupation in 1967 but unlike West Bank Palestinians were given permanent residency cards entitling them to certain benefits.
Israeli security forces clash with Palestinians after Israeli authorities banned Palestinians under the age of 50 from entering Al-Aqsa Mosque for Laylat Al-Qadr in the holy fasting month of Ramadan in Jerusalem, West Bank
At least two Palestinians were killed on Thursday evening during clashes between Palestinian protestors and Israeli occupation forces near the Qalandiya checkpoint, just north of occupied Jerusalem, Palestinian security sources said.
Media are reporting that Israeli occupation forces shot and killed Mohammed Al-Araj, 25 years old, and Majd Sufyan, 27 years old. Both were participating in a mass protest staged by at least 10,000 Palestinians when violent clashes broke out between them and Israeli occupation forces at the checkpoint that separates Jerusalem from the West Bank.
Hundreds were reportedly injured during the clashes, some of whom were shot with live ammunition.
In response to the killings, Palestinians have called for a “day of rage” with popular protests.
The Israeli army spokesperson told Agence France Presse that: “There are thousands of rioters there. They are rolling burning tyres and throwing Molotov cocktails and fireworks at soldiers and border police.”
She said that the occupation forces were only using “riot disposal means” to control the protests, but witnesses confirmed to Al-Ghad newspaper that the soldiers fired live ammunition, tear gas bombs and rubber bullets at the protestors.
Three Israeli suspects who have confessed to the gruesome killing of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir, who was abducted in East Jerusalem and later burnt to death, are going to plead “temporary insanity”, according to Haaretz. Mohammed’s father guessed as much last week, when asked whether he trusted Israel’s judicial system: “I think they will say that [the murderers] were insane and give them a year or two and that’s all.”
That’s not because Hussein Abu Khdeir has incredible prescience; it’s because this is how it works in Israel. Palestinians who kill Israelis are terrorists, and Israelis who kill Palestinians are either heroes, if they are doing it in an official capacity, or deeply damaged individuals on the “fringes of society”, if they act on their own. Either way, they are not meaningfully held to account.
As Hussein also implies, the three, if convicted, will probably get a lenient sentence and then be pardoned when the fuss dies down in a year or two.
Notice also that the three other suspects arrested last week have been released, even though the police say they were part of the cell believed to have organised the kidnapping. So why not charge them with conspiracy to murder, or membership of a terrorist organisation, or one of the other charges that would be used if the suspects were Palestinian, including Palestinian citizens of Israel?
And here’s another question: how can we take seriously a claim of “temporary insanity” among an organised group (“a cell”) that has a wider membership and whose creation presumably predated the general mood of revenge that permeated Israeli society following news that three Israeli teens had been abducted on June 12? What was this cell organised to do if not to harm Palestinians? And if this is the case, how can “insanity” apply to the group collectively and how can it be termed “temporary”?
I expect none of these questions to be addressed, let alone answered, in the trial – assuming, of course, we get one and this is not hushed up in a closed hearing at which they are committed to psychiatric care.
Instead, Israeli officials will doubtless assent to the deranged notion of “insanity” propagated by the far-right legal group, Honenu, defending the three suspects. It says:
Given the crazy, abnormal situation in the country, it’s natural that among the many people who approach us, some have been emotionally scarred by the security situation or by difficult personal circumstances and responded accordingly.
Remember, “accordingly” here refers to a decision to abduct a child, force-feed him a flammable liquid and then set him on fire. Maybe “insanity” in this case has a much wider application than just to three individuals.
Shu’afat, Occupied Palestine – On the 4th July 2014, at least 2,000 Palestinian mourners gathered in Shu’afat for the funeral of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, who was kidnapped last week.
His mutilated body was later found in a forest on the outskirts of Jerusalem. The autopsy indicates that he was burnt alive. It is widely believed that the murder was carried out by extremist Israeli settlers.
Mourners gathered by the mosque and marched carrying the body to the burial ground. Initially the funeral organisers formed a human chain to separate mourners and the police to prevent violence. Later on, Israeli police clashed with Palestinians for around 12 hours.
It has been reported that at least 30 Palestinians were hurt by rubber-coated bullets while dozens more were treated for the effects of tear gas. 13 Israeli police officers were also injured. A field of wheat was also partly destroyed by fire, probably caused by tear gas canisters.
Throughout the demonstration, undercover police agents, who were also acting violently towards the police, abducted and violently assaulted at least 11 Palestinians, including Tarek Abu Khdeir, Mohammed’s cousin, who was filmed being beaten by police.
Later in the evening, local Palestinian residents took steps to remove the illegal light rail system which runs through their neighbourhood. Two French companies, Veolia and Alstom, are subject to an international boycott and divestment campaign due to their involvement in the project. The tram primarily services illegal Israeli settlements in Occupied East Jerusalem and thereby facilitates Israel’s illegal policies of colonization and ethnic cleansing.
Local Palestinian’s pulled up bricks and cement that hold the tracks in place and damaged the tracks using an angle grinder. Many local residents gathered round to express their support for this act of civil disobedience. One Palestinian resident in his 60′s said that the tram “is for the illegal settlements. Israel takes our land and kills our people…we want them [the Palestinian protesters] to rip it up and take it away completely…we want rid of it”.
The families of the three Israeli teens killed by their abductors have been the focus of a huge outpouring of national sympathy.
But what about the family of 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir, who was burnt alive by his abductors? How have they been treated by Israel since the devastating news of Muhammad’s murder in Jerusalem last week?
Here, in short, is what has happened to them.
They have been subjected to a campaign, secretly waged by the Israeli police, to discredit them by suggesting that Muhammad was a closet gay and killed in a family feud.
The father and close relatives have been forced to submit to intense and distressing questioning in police cells from the Israeli security services, all in an attempt to give greater plausibility to their planted rumours with “confessions” from the family.
And now it emerges that a 15-year-old cousin of Muhammad’s, visiting for the summer from the US, was the victim in video footage of a savage beating by armed Israeli police. They kicked and punched him relentlessly after he was cuffed and lying on the ground. He is still under arrest, apparently without charge.
The US state department – so eloquent in denouncing the killing of the three Israeli teens – is apparently lost for words when it comes to the mistreatment of one of its citizens.
Here is the horrifying video of Tarek Abu Khdeir’s beating:
Is this what Netanyahu meant when he said of Israel’s response to the abductions: “The devil himself has not yet created vengeance for the blood of a small child”?