Despite Israel revoking tens of thousands of entry permits, some Palestinian worshippers were able to travel from the West Bank to Jerusalem to mark the first Friday of Ramadan.
Photos by Ahmad al-Bazz, Oren Ziv / Activestills.org
Text by Oren Ziv
Thousands of Palestinians crossed through Qalandiya Checkpoint in the West Bank to Jerusalem on Friday, to participate in the first Friday prayers of Ramadan, the holy Muslim month of fasting, at Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Buses from across the West Bank brought worshippers to the checkpoint, which they then crossed on foot. On the other side of checkpoint were buses that took them to Jerusalem’s Old City.
On Thursday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a series of retributive actions following the shooting attack by two young Palestinians in central Tel Aviv on Wednesday, which left four Israelis dead. Netanyahu’s ordered the revoking of 80,000 entry permits that had been previously issued to West Bank Palestinians over Ramadan. On Friday Israeli authorities restricted entry to Jerusalem to Palestinian men over 45, while all Palestinian women were allowed to cross.
The number of Palestinians who arrived at the checkpoint was relatively small, as most of the Palestinian public is still unsure of the criteria for entering Jerusalem. In previous years the second, third, and fourth Fridays of Ramadan brought with them large amounts of worshippers from across the West Bank, often leading to long waiting times at the checkpoint.
On Friday morning Hebrew-language news websites ran headlines declaring the IDF had put the West Bank under full closure due to the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, as well as in response to the shooting attack. However, those who read the articles in full discovered that the closure did not apply to those who came to pray at Al-Aqsa. Furthermore, the 80,000 cancelled permits did not apply to Palestinians who travel to Jerusalem on the weekends for purposes of worship.
As opposed to previous years in which Palestinian youth found ways to climb over the separation wall and reach Jerusalem, on Friday morning large police forces were stationed on the Jerusalem side of the wall in order to prevent them from doing so.