Israeli Police Warn Imposing Restrictions Access to Al-Aqsa in Ramadan May Fuel Tensions

Jerusalem, MINA – Israeli police have warned that imposing restrictions on the entry of Palestinians to Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan could inflame tensions in Jerusalem, local media reported Wednesday quoted by Anadolu Agency.

Recently, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir called for not allowing West Bank residents to enter Islam’s third holiest site during the Muslim fasting month while only permitting entry to Palestinian citizens of Israel aged 70 and above.

Israel’s Channel 12 quoted unnamed senior police officials as saying that a decision on the matter will be made next weekend.

The officers said that if a decision is made in response to Ben-Gvir’s demands, it could inflame tensions in Jerusalem and mixed cities inhabited by Israelis and Palestinians.

The Abraham Initiatives organization sent a letter to Israeli Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai warning of a potential escalation.

The Jewish-Israeli and Palestinian-Israeli organization advances social inclusion and equal rights for Israel’s Palestinian citizens by influencing public policy, shaping public opinion and demonstrating practical models for a shared society, according to its website.

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It warned that “irresponsible behavior by police officers who will be stationed in the Old City of Jerusalem and at the entrances to Al-Aqsa Mosque could ignite the area.”

In its letter, the organization’s directors wrote that since the start of the Gaza war last October, police have significantly reduced the possibility of entry for Muslim Israeli citizens (Palestinians in the 1948 territories) to Al-Aqsa Mosque for prayers, according to Channel 12.

The organization also called on the police leadership to give clear instructions to all police officers who will be working in Jerusalem during Ramadan to preserve freedom of worship and avoid humiliating behavior towards the Muslim faithful.

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Earlier on Wednesday, the Israeli newspaper Maariv said that security agencies objected to Ben Gvir’s intention to prevent Palestinians from the West Bank from entering Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan and to restrict entry for Israeli Palestinians.

It explained that the police’s position is to allow West Bank residents aged 60 and above and Israeli Palestinians aged 45 and above to enter.

The Shin Bet (Israel’s General Security Service) demands allowing West Bank residents aged 45 and above to enter Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan unconditionally, as well as unrestricted entry for Palestinian citizens of Israel.

The number of Palestinian citizens of Israel totals 2.065 million, accounting for 21% of the country’s population of 9.795 million, according to the latest official Israeli census.

Since the start of the war on the Gaza Strip, Israeli police have imposed restrictions on the entry of Palestinian faithful from all areas to Al-Aqsa Mosque, especially on Fridays.

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Israel has launched a deadly offensive on the Gaza Strip following a cross-border incursion by the Palestinian group Hamas on Oct. 7. The ensuing Israeli bombardment has killed 29,954 people and injured over 70,000 with mass destruction and shortages of necessities.

The Israeli war has pushed 85 per cent of Gaza’s population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60 per cent of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza. (T/RE1/P2)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)