Palestinian dies as Israel restricts al-Aqsa access


Cii Radio| Ayesha Ismail| 28 July 2017| 04 Zhul Qadha 1438

Young protester succumbs to wounds after being shot by Israeli forces, as police renew ban on men under 50 at holy site

A 25-year-old protester has succumbed to his wounds, becoming the fifth Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces and settlers in two weeks of violence as tension mounts over discriminatory restrictions at al-Aqsa Mosque.

Muhammad Kanan, who had been shot in the head three days earlier, died late on Thursday in a hospital in the central occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said.

Kanan had joined thousands of Palestinians in the streets to rally against extra security at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque compound, protesting in Hizma, his hometown near Jerusalem.

Israel installed metal detectors and turnstiles at the mosque, the third holiest site for Muslims, after an alleged attack.

Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, reporting from Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate, said police forces were deployed on Friday morning in large numbers around the Old City where the al-Aqsa Mosque compound is located.

“There’s a real atmosphere of tension,” he said, explaining that Israeli forces are restricting movement from checkpoints between occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank.

On July 14, three Palestinian citizens of Israel carried out a shooting attack in Jerusalem’s Old City, killing two Israeli police officers. The three assailants were also killed in during the shootout that ensued.

Palestinians viewed the restrictive measures – which have since been removed – as an encroachment of Israeli control over the holy site, and a form of collective punishment.

They feared that Israel was attempting to change the status quo of al-Aqsa, which gives Muslims religious control over the compound and Jews the right to visit, but not pray there, and launched a boycott.

Instead of praying at the mosque, they worshipped in the streets and demonstrated against the measures.

Men under 50 banned again
However, though railings, cameras and metal detectors have been taken away, Israeli police announced for the second week running that men under the age of 50 would be barred from al-Aqsa on Friday – when thousands of Muslims typically flock to the site for weekly prayers.

That announcement followed renewed clashes, with Israeli forces injuring more than 100 people by firing stun grenades, tear gas and sound bombs in the mosque’s compound.

Earlier, Palestinian religious leaders who were satisfied with the eased restrictions declared an end to the boycott, and thousands of Palestinian worshippers returned to the mosque on Thursday for the first time since July 14.

Jamal Zahalka, a Palestinian politician in Israel’s Knesset, said that Palestinians will “continue to defend al-Aqsa and Jerusalem and insist an end to the occupation”.

“If there is no occupation, there is no struggle against occupation,” he told Al Jazeera.

The compound, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount, is in occupied East Jerusalem.

Over 12 days of protests, Israeli forces injured more than 1,000 Palestinians during clashes, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.

Three Palestinians were killed last Friday during “Day of Rage” protests across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

Later that night, a Palestinian assailant hopped the fence of Halamish, a Jewish-only settlement in the West Bank, and killed three Israelis in their home.

Raed Saleh, a resident of East Jerusalem, said that re-entering the compound on their own conditions was a victory for Palestinians.

“We never saw this kind of win for our people,” he told Al Jazeera. “People are coming from everywhere just to support us in this occasion.

“The Israeli government will now understand that Palestinians from Jerusalem will not accept everything they [Israelis] will tell them. We control ourselves. No one is controlling us.”

Al Jazeera’s Stefanie Dekker, reporting from East Jerusalem, said Palestinians view the removal of the cameras and metal detectors as “a victory for the people”.

“Everyone we speak to says this is a historic moment,” she said.

Yoram Halevy, the Israeli police chief in Jerusalem, threatened Palestinians and urged them not to continue their protests on Friday.

“If they try to disrupt the order [on Friday], there will be casualties,” he said, according to Israeli media reports. “Do not try us. We know how to react vigorously.”

Source – Al Jazeera