The third Friday prayers of Ramadan at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem sandwiched by Israeli police attack As for Palestinians attending prayers, that hasn’t stopped some 150,000 Palestinians from going to mosques to worship, according to the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf.
Israeli forces raided the mosque Friday after dawn prayers, wounding at least 31 Palestinians, including three journalists, with rubber bullets, stun grenades and gas spicy. Israeli police said the raids were in response to Palestinian stoning. Tear gas was also fired after Friday prayers, hitting Palestinians worshiping at the Dome of the Rock inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
Infiltration of settlers under police protection in this week During the Jewish festival of Passover led to daily confrontations with Palestinians at the mosque, with many wounded and arrested.
On the first day of Passover, April 15, Israeli forces wounded at least 158 Palestinians and arrested another 400 inside the compound. Dozens of others were injured and arrested over the course of the week.
Despite concerns about escalation on the ground, Palestinians say a continued presence in Al-Aqsa is imperative.
“I think people coming to Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa are very important. You feel you belong, you feel responsible for Jerusalem, have to teach our children that this is our land, that Al-Aqsa is our religion,” Rana Mohammad told Al Jazeera. at the complex.
The 36-year-old mother came from Nablus in the occupied West Bank, and went to East Jerusalem with her husband and five-year-old son.
The month of Ramadan represents a rare opportunity for Palestinians from the occupied West Bank – while Palestinians Jerusalem and Israeli passport holders can enter Al-Aqsa at any time, Palestinians living in the West Bank Occupied troops are only allowed to enter the city with a military permit outside of Ramadan.
“We can’t come on weekdays, you wait minute by minute. The feeling here is indescribable – you feel your spirit rejuvenated,” said Mohammad.
While Passover has ended and Muslims will be restricted from entering for the final 10 days of Ramadan, tensions on the ground in Jerusalem and in the occupied West Bank remain high.
An increase in Palestinian attacks inside Israel resulted in the killing of 14 Israelis in three weeks. Meanwhile, the Israelis have killed at least 43 Palestinians since the beginning of 2022.
Weeks of protests and air strikes by Israeli forces on Al-Aqsa during the holy month of Ramadan last year escalated into an insurgency that spread across Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, and a 11 days of attack on the besieged Gaza Strip.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque complex has been a major focal point between Israeli and Palestinian occupation for decades, and was the epicenter of the 2000-2005 Palestinian Intifada uprising.
The 14-hectare complex is one of the holiest in Islam, and houses the Al-Qibli Mosque (Al-Aqsa Mosque) and the Dome of the Rock.
Aya Abu Moussa, 33, from al-Lydd (Lod) in Israel, said that while she and her family fear the political situation, they believe it is important to go to Al-Aqsa.
“There must be a large number of Palestinians in Al-Aqsa – we cannot leave it alone. We see what happens to young people here, we can’t leave them alone,” Abu Moussa told Al Jazeera, referring to confrontations at mosques. “The more people come – the more they [Israel] will be afraid to attack it. If no one blocked them, they would feel too comfortable. Youth is limiting them,” she continued.
According to Abu Moussa, every day five large buses leave the towns of al-Lydd and al-Ramle (Ramla), central Israel, during the month of Ramadan to pray at dawn and at night in Al-Aqsa.
“Since last year’s uprising in al-Lydd, there has been more awareness, especially among young people, of the importance of going to Al-Aqsa and Jerusalem. We thought they would keep playing PUBG, but no,” she said, referring to a popular computer game.
Yasmeen Tibi, a 21-year-old from Nablus in the occupied West Bank, holds a similar view.
“Our strength is in the numbers,” the college student told Al Jazeera. “Those who can come, come. Every individual makes a difference, even if we don’t realize it.”
Tibi arrived at Al-Aqsa with her five sisters and five female cousins, all dressed in traditional Palestinian robes and ao dai.
“We should not be afraid – we are the rightful owners of this land. They are the ones who should be scared,” she said.
Palestinians from the West Bank must pass crowded checkpoints and wait hours before being allowed into Jerusalem. Tibi said that she and her family left Nablus at 7 a.m. and arrived at Al-Aqsa at 10 a.m., in a much more grueling journey.
“They treat us like cattle at the checkpoint. People were lined up in small rows and squatting together. We spent two hours inside the Qalandiya checkpoint just waiting in line to go through,” said Tibi, referring to the main checkpoint between the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Israel said the measures were necessary for security reasons.
Find your way in
While women of all ages are allowed to enter without a military permit on Fridays during this month of Ramadan, only men over 50 or boys under 12 are entitled to the privilege. the same, similar.
Men and boys who didn’t fit those criteria were either forced to apply for a military license without securing a license or find another way to enlist.
Mohammad, 20, jumped off the 8-meter (26-foot-tall) wall separating Israel to Al-Aqsa.
Despite Israel’s heightened security measures, Mohammed managed to get through with some of his friends. “I have come to pray and to protect Al-Aqsa from [Israeli] “Mohammed, who is from the Aqabet Jaber refugee camp in Jericho, told Al Jazeera.
“Every Palestinian has to come here, because the occupiers attack mosques, they fire tear gas and women are beaten here.”
“We had to confront them [Israel]. This is our land, and the Palestinian people will endure until liberated.”
Meanwhile, Mohammad Asaad Saeed, a 57-year-old man from Tulkarem in the occupied northern West Bank, said a lack of leadership was the cause of the confrontations.
“We need someone to lead us – to liberate Al-Aqsa,” Saeed told Al Jazeera.
“Palestinians are defenseless. What young people do in confrontations – this is what an entire army should do, not our young people. The problem is with our leaders.”