Several members of Knesset join protests against heightened restrictions on Muslim access to the holy site while Jewish visits by right-wing activists increase due to Jewish holy days.
Text and photos by Oren Ziv / Activestills.org
Hundreds of Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem and northern Israel demonstrated outside the Old City’s Lions’ Gate early Wednesday morning. Police prevented them from entering Al Aqsa compound.
The protest was against right-wing Jewish activists entering the Aqsa Compound/Temple Mount at the same time that Israeli police are preventing Muslim men from entering the compound to pray. Police have stopped male worshipers under the age of 50 from entering Al Aqsa in recent weeks, particularly during the Jewish High Holidays.
A number of clashes and protests have taken place inside and around the compound in recent weeks, largely focused on visits to the site by Jews, most of whom are right-wing activists; police close the site to Muslim worshippers during such visits.
Anger in East Jerusalem is rising, a local journalist explained to +972, over the combination of the fact that police have been permitting Jews to enter the holy site, which most Palestinians view as a provocation, while at the same time making harsher the restrictions on Muslims who may pray there.
Members of Knesset Haneen Zoabi, Mohammad Barakeh, Ibrahim Sarsour attended the demonstration on Wednesday, and were given permission to enter Al Aqsa Mosque. When a Jewish tour group left, a group of Palestinian women from the protest were allowed to enter as well. Police, however, declared the gathering an illegal demonstration and began pushing the protesters toward the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Joz, where they used stun grenades and water canons. Police arrested at least four protesters.
A version of this article was published on +972’s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. Read it in Hebrew here.