Palestinians travelled to Jerusalem al-Quds to observe the first Friday of Ramadan with over 75,000 Muslims worshippers praying at al-Aqsa Mosque. However the Israeli army imposed heavy restrictions by setting up separate checkpoints in the West Bank.
Palestinians say they were humiliated at Qalandya checkpoint as scores of people were turned away. We interviewed one Palestinian who attempted to enter numerous checkpoints, however as he stated due to security restrictions he was banned from entering. Many stated that just praying in Jerusalem has become a form of resistance.
Palestinians have further complained about the heavy police presence in Jerusalem al Quds, many of which deny Palestinians access to the third holiest site in Islam Al Aqsa mosque. Human rights groups including Bet Selem have reported that last year Palestinians were physically assaulted or arrested by Israeli police.
The Head Mufti of Al Aqsa Mosque stated that it is illegal under international law to ban Muslims and Christians from accessing their sacred holy sites during religious holidays.
The Mufti continued to explain that it is part of Tel Aviv’s discriminatory policy to make it difficult for Muslims to attend holy sites in Jerusalem. Al Aqsa mosque has been at the heart of the tensions in Jerusalem, as it is under constant threat of raids by Israeli Jewish settlers and The Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel has called for a Jewish Temple to be built on the Al Aqsa Compound with over 50% of Israeli’s in support of this policy. Israel are further continuing to conduct archeological excavations under the al Aqsa compound in a bid to find remnants of a Jewish history. With extensive damage caused to the Islamic site, they have not yet found a trace of evidence.
This is a celebratory day in which tens of thousands of Muslims are observing the first Friday of Ramadan. However many Palestinian are frustrated with numerous restrictions imposed by Israel including banning access to holy sites, forcing Palestinians to apply for special military permits and causing delays at the checkpoints.