Ramadan 2016: Harassment, Collective Punishment and Settlement Expansions in the Occupied West Bank

07 JUL
9:21 PM

07/07/16 | International Solidarity Movement | al-Khalil team

Monday the 6th of June marked the beginning of the Ramadan; the holiest holiday in Islam. The Ramadan is a sacred month in the Islamic calendar, where Muslims celebrate when the Qu’ran was revealed for the first time to the Prophet Muhammad.

For Muslims all over the world who celebrate the Ramadan, it’s a month of prayers and celebrations, with the intention to improve morality and character as well as strengthening ones relationship with Allah.

However, for Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank under illegal Israeli military occupation, the Ramadan is also a month filled with uncertainties and harassment.

Since the beginning of the Ramadan, more than 330 Palestinians have been detained throughout the West Bank; at least 60 of these were children, the youngest being 10-year old Marwan Sharabati from Al-Khalil (Hebron).

Discrimination and aggression in East Jerusalem

Israeli discrimination and aggression has especially been intense in and around occupied East Jerusalem, where thousands of Palestinians from in and outside East Jerusalem go to visit and pray at the Al-Aqsa compound and mosque, the third most religious site in all of Islam.

The Al-Aqsa compound in East Jerusalem was annexed in 1967 as a part of Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank – this annexation was never recognised by the international community.

On Sunday 26 of June, Israeli soldiers broke in and raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque, harassing and disturbing peaceful Palestinians during prayer. Israeli forces also escorted a group of approximately 200 settlers into the mosque, shouting and harassing Palestinians praying. This action was in contravention of a long running tradition that only Muslims would enter the mosque during the final 10 days of Ramadan.

Watch video of soldiers raiding the mosque here

As a result of the clashes, Israeli authorities enforced the understanding to restrict access to Muslim worshippers although also placed punitive restrictions on Palestinians; refusing access to all males under 45 years old, breaching their right to exercise freedom of religion.

On Friday 30 June, Israeli soldiers shut down the Qalandiya checkpoint, preventing thousands of Palestinians, including males younger than 45 years old, to pass in order to reach the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Israeli forces then proceeded to attack Palestinians at Qalandiya checkpoint with live ammunition, rubber coated steel bullets and teargas, wounding 40 Palestinians as well as killing a 63 year old Palestinian man due to massive teargas inhalation.

Watch video from Qalandiya here

Collective punishment and settlement expansion during the Ramadan

After an attack at a market in Tel Aviv, where four Israeli citizens where killed, Israel has conducted a large collective punishment strategy, suspending entry permits for more than 83,000 Palestinians from the West Bank. The 83,000 people impacted had nothing to do with the crime committed, and thereby preventing them from going to Al-Aqsa in the annexed East Jerusalem is another clear example of Israel enforcing illegal collective punishment.

To further ignite the situation, Benjamin Netanyahu announced a large-scale settlement expansion, consisting of a total of 800 housing units in East Jerusalem. The scheme contains of 560 housing units in the settlement Ma’Ale Adumim, 140 in Ramot and 100 in Har Homar and Pisgat Zeev.

Following a Palestinian attack on a 13-year old American-Israeli settler, Netanyahu has also approved construction of 42 new housing units in the settlement of Kiryat Arba near Hebron. The settlements are illegal according to international law, and the UN and EU leaders have denounced the expansion, urging Netanyahu to reverse the decision.

Netanyahu’s actions continue to escalate the situation in the West Bank and completely disregard the recently released Quartet report, which has resulted in the U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon condemning Israel for this continued expansion of illegal settlements.

(Source / 07.07.2016)

Tags: #ICC4Israel

Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police

The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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