Targeting al-Aqsa Mosque, Excluding 40 Citizens and Arresting 150 Jerusalemites
Wadi Hilwe’s Information Centre collected information on Israeli oppression against citizens of Jerusalem last March. This included arrests, assaults demolitions and confiscations. The report also showed restrictions preventing praying. The right of religion expression in al-Aqsa mosque was prevented by extreme settlers on one side and the Israeli police and soldiers on the other. Many daily arrest operations took place. Alongside these, raids in several areas prevented locals from moving freely or expressing their opinions. Random fines were given out too. There was also an increase in attacks against the locals by settlers.
The Holy al-Aqsa and Oppressing the Right to Practice Religion
Wadi Hilwe’s Information Centre can confirm that the Israeli occupation excluded more than 40 citizens (women and men) from al-Aqsa mosque. The time period of exclusion ranged from seven days to six months.
Simultaneously, hundreds of extremist settlers were allowed to raid it. For three consecutive Fridays – 15th, 22nd and 29th March – Palestinians were prevented from praying in al-Aqsa. Men under 50 years were prohibited from entering the mosque. Borders were set all over the Old City to check ID cards, forcing them to pray in the streets of Jerusalem under the watch of Israeli Forces.
On Friday 15th March Israeli Forces attacked worshipers who attempted to pray at the Asbat and Hatta Gates. They were pushing and prevented from praying; one person was arrested. On the last Friday of the month, Israeli Forces attacked the men at the Damascus and Majles (Al Nazer) Gates. Six citizens were left with scars and broken bones, one even lost his finger after an iron railing used by police fell on his hand. Another broke his knee after police hit him with truncheons. Similarly a third man had a chest injury caused by the truncheons. 54-year-old Jamal Kabaja and his 18-year-old son Muhamma were injured on their left hand and right foot. At Damascus Gate 81-year-old Mahmood Abd Hamdan Abu Nea’ broke his leg and a basin he was carrying when an officer from the Horsemen Unit pushed him.
Many men and women were prevented from entering al-Aqsa over several days. ID cards were confiscated and owners had to go to various investigation centres around the Old City to retrieve them.
During this month an officer kicked the holy Koran before stepping on whilst on the grounds of al-Aqsa. In a separate incident he removed the hijab (headscarf) from one of the women inside al-Aqsa. Meanwhile on another Friday a Knesset (Israeli Parliament) member raided al-Aqsa to reach the Dome of the Rock.
It was noticed that many Jewish students raided al-Aqsa with claims of wanting to study Islamic History. The guards of al-Aqsa however were surprised to see them wearing clothing associated with extremists so they denied them entry. One of them tried to drink alcohol inside al-Aqsa and another female settler tried to help her son urinate on the grounds of al-Aqsa. One Saturday two settlers tried to enter al-Aqsa through the Matthara Gate but were caught by the guards.
Israeli Forces tried to raid al-Aqsa on Friday 8th March. This incident resulted in dozens of injured citizens when forces used sounds bombs and rubber bullets. Among the injured were two guards from al-Aqsa: Had al G’ool and Saleh Dweck. Two reporters, Atta Ewesat and Mahfuz Abu Turk, were also hurt.
A raid also took place on 31st March when worshipers were attacked with truncheons and pepper spray. Many were arrested.
Wadi Hilwe’s Information Centre reported 150 arrests during March. Men, women, young people and children were among those arrested and all from different areas within Jerusalem. Most occurred during raids on al-Aqsa and the confrontations surrounding them. Many were released under the condition of temporary bans from al-Aqsa. Some had charges pressed against them whilst others had arrests extended. Three from Shoufat were accused of injuring three soldiers with burns when they threw Molotov cocktails inside al-Aqsa.
The Israeli courts sentenced eight men and one woman from Al Toor and Silwan (areas of Jerusalem); among them were minors. Amer Zidani received a one year sentence; Abas al Abassi was sentenced to 13 months; Ezhak Arafe and had the longest sentence of a lifetime plus 60 years. Entisar al Sayyad was sentenced to two and a half years after the court charged her with stabbing and injuring a soldier.
The Israeli Courts extended the arrest of almost 50 citizens from different parts of Jerusalem. They were all arrested under different charges.
Crackdown on Marches, Demonstrations and Activism
During this month, occupation forces prevented citizens from Jerusalem marching to mark International Women’s Day. The march began at the Red Cross in Sheikh Jarrah. Another march to commemorate Land Day was disrupted and resulted in the arrest of one young man. Land belonging to the al Mo’aqat family was raided and three citizens arrested.
Forces also prevented Palestinians from ’48 to organize demonstration in solidarity with prisoners from al Essawiye; three citizens were arrested. A demonstration against the construction of Road #4 in the village of Beit Safafa was also disrupted and 10 citizens from the village arrested.
Israeli forces prevented Palestinians from doing a Marathon in Jerusalem. It was organised and planned to coincide with a Marathon organized by the municipality to trace Jewish history in the area. They also prevented games to take place for Ashbal of Jabal al Zaytoun by raiding the playground and forcing everyone out.
Oppressing the Right to Move
Israeli authorities renewed a closure of Silwan’s Charitable Organization for another year. The organization delivers social and humanitarian services to locals.
They also postponed the organization al Damir from getting into the West Bank for another six months.
The soldiers oppressed a wedding activity named “Wedding near the wall”. As soon as it reached Hizma’s border in North Jerusalem gas bombs were shot towards it causing suffocation.
Attacks by Settlers
Lots of attacks by settlers against Palestinian citizens and their properties took place this month. 16-year-old Mansour Abu Madi was attacked whilst was walking home from school. As he defended himself, he was sentenced to a 10-day house arrest. Whilst on the roof of his home, 9-year-old Ebrahim al Rajabi was injured by broken glass thrown by settlers. He had a deep cut on his face. Twice settler from Silwan attacked 14-year-old Dina Jweles and her 12-year-old brother Muhammad; both were arrested. Um Zeyad Abu Hadwad was attacked in the Old City while out with her daughter. One of attackers tried to forcibly remove her hijab before spraying them. Towards the end of March, the Al Shawish family were attacked after their house in the Old City was raided by settlers. The mother, her son, her daughter and three other citizens were arrested.
A group of young settlers had shooting practice with hunting guns near Al Nabi Samuel school.
Israeli authorities carried out raids all over Jerusalem. Silwan and al Essawiye in particular were subjected to many. Water counters in Silwan and al Sawane were taken off many times. Random tickets with fines were given to over 50 cars even though they were parked legally.
Demolition and Self-Demolition
The Ahfad Younis area was established by dozens of Palestinians and foreign activists on the lands of al Azariye in East Jerusalem. This is under threat of confiscation for the E1 settlement project. Authorities also tried to demolish a wall belonging to the Muhessen family in Sheikh Jarrah. The authorities also wanted to take over a piece of land belonging to a house; they want to build a building for Social Insurance .
Dahud Said, a local of Bab Hatta, demolished his house himself to avoid arrest and fines. The building, home to nine people, was 90 square metres.
The authorities also delivered many demolition warnings in Silwan.