+972 Magazine's Stories of the Week

Directly In Your Inbox

Analysis News
Visit our Hebrew site, "Local Call" , in partnership with Just Vision.

PHOTOS: Tens of thousands of Palestinians cross Israeli checkpoints for Ramadan prayers

Nearly 70,000 Palestinians from the West Bank and 300 from Gaza take advantage of a temporary relaxation of Israeli restrictions on movement in order to attend Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Photos and text by Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org

Palestinian worshipers enter the Israeli military’s Qalandiya checkpoint separating Ramallah and Jerusalem on their way to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque for the second Friday of Ramadan, June 17, 201-. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Palestinian worshipers enter the Israeli military’s Qalandiya checkpoint separating Ramallah and Jerusalem on their way to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque for the second Friday of Ramadan, June 17, 2016. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Thousands of Palestinians left their homes in cities and towns across the West Bank early Friday morning in order to make their way through a number of Israeli checkpoints leading to Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City.

The Palestinian worshipers hoping to attend prayers at Al-Aqsa for the second Friday of Ramadan were subject to strict criteria set by the Israeli military. Only men over the age of 45 years and women of all ages were allowed to enter without special permits.

Earlier in the month, in what has been described as collective punishment for a shooting attack in Tel Aviv, the army suspended 83,000 special holiday entry permits it had issued to Palestinians for Ramadan.

Buses organized to bring worshipers to Israeli checkpoints faced severe difficulty in traffic jams on many major roads in the West Bank.

Hundreds of young Palestinians hoping to cross into Jerusalem gathered at the Qalandiya and Bethlehem checkpoints, at the northern and southern ends of Jerusalem, respectively. Israeli soldiers and Border Police officers refused to let them through without permits.

Palestinian residents of the West Bank are only allowed into Jerusalem and Israel with special military issued entry permits most of the year. During the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, the army eases restrictions on Fridays. Therefore, Palestinians who meet the criteria of traveling without a permit Ramadan take advantage of the exceptional situation on the four Fridays, often doing shopping and heading to the beach, which they cannot access the rest of the year.

A small number of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip also generally receive permits to attend Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa during Ramadan. Last week, Israeli officials rescinded those permits in the wake of the Tel Aviv shooting attack. This week, 300 Palestinians from Gaza were allowed into Jerusalem for prayers.

Palestinian worshipers enter the Israeli military’s Qalandiya checkpoint separating Ramallah and Jerusalem on their way to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque for the second Friday of Ramadan, June 17, 201-. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Palestinian worshipers enter the Israeli military’s Qalandiya checkpoint separating Ramallah and Jerusalem on their way to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque for the second Friday of Ramadan, June 17, 2016. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Palestinian worshipers enter the Israeli military’s Checkpoint 300 separating Bethlehem and Jerusalem on their way to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque for the second Friday of Ramadan, June 17, 201-. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Palestinian worshipers enter the Israeli military’s Checkpoint 300 separating Bethlehem and Jerusalem on their way to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque for the second Friday of Ramadan, June 17, 2016. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Palestinian worshipers enter the Israeli military’s Qalandiya checkpoint separating Ramallah and Jerusalem on their way to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque for the second Friday of Ramadan, June 17, 2016. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Palestinian worshipers enter the Israeli military’s Qalandiya checkpoint separating Ramallah and Jerusalem on their way to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque for the second Friday of Ramadan, June 17, 2016. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Israeli Border Police direct Palestinian worshipers through the Qalandiya checkpoint separating Ramallah and Jerusalem on their way to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque for the second Friday of Ramadan, June 17, 2016. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Israeli Border Police direct Palestinian worshipers through the Qalandiya checkpoint separating Ramallah and Jerusalem on their way to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque for the second Friday of Ramadan, June 17, 2016. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Palestinian worshipers enter the Israeli military’s Checkpoint 300 separating Bethlehem and Jerusalem as they make their way to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque for the second Friday of Ramadan, June 17, 2016. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Palestinian worshipers enter the Israeli military’s Checkpoint 300 separating Bethlehem and Jerusalem as they make their way to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque for the second Friday of Ramadan, June 17, 2016. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

For additional original analysis and breaking news, visit +972 Magazine's Facebook page or follow us on Twitter. Our newsletter features a comprehensive round-up of the week's events. Sign up here.

  • LEAVE A COMMENT

    * Required

    COMMENTS

    1. Felixio

      50 years of this….

      Reply to Comment
    2. i_like_ike52

      Yes, nostalgia for the good old days before June 1967 when Jews were completely barred from visiting the Kotel, in violation of the cease-fire agreements that the Jordanian rulers of east Jerusalem themselves signed.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Nope, Felixio’s statement brings us to 2016. You’re the one misusing the past to defend the present and the 50 years behind it. And you’re the one claiming that something about nostalgia entitles you to fill swimming pools in Ariel while denying the Palestinians water to drink. It’s bunk. Like Reuven Rivlin’s speech to the EU today which complained about a lack of trust on both sides then mentioned every factor to address except one: the occupation. The elephant in the room. Unbelievable. Rivlin’s idea is to withdraw not one illegal settler while building “trust.” Deeply deceptive, condescending, racist and colonialist.

        Reply to Comment
        • i_like_ike52

          If the Palestinians don’t have enough water, it is because they have a rotting water distribution system with pipes that leak far more than other countries’ do, including Israel. If they would use some of massive amount of aid money they receive (the Palestinians get per capita the greatest amount of aid in the world) to repair their water system, instead of squirreling away the money in the various PA official’s Swiss bank accounts, they could solve their water shortage. Add to that the fact that various people close to the pig trough of the PA sell water out of tanker trucks at inflated prices and you that the PA doesn’t really have any incentive to repair their water infrastructure, and instead push the blame on Israel.

          Reply to Comment