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Misinformation Campaign Claims Israeli Occupation Ensures Palestinians’ Freedom of Worship

Misbar's Editorial Team Misbar's Editorial Team
News
3rd April 2024
Misinformation Campaign Claims Israeli Occupation Ensures Palestinians’ Freedom of Worship
Israel obstructs worshippers' access to Al-Aqsa Mosque in Ramadan (Getty)

Recently, the Islamic Waqf Department in Jerusalem announced that 125,000 worshippers performed the third Friday prayer of Ramadan at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Subsequently, Israeli accounts launched a propaganda campaign alleging that the occupation allows Muslims to perform their prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan with ease, safety, freedom, and without obstacles. This article investigates the accuracy of these Israeli claims.

Misleading Israeli Claims About Ensuring Muslims’ Religious Freedom

The Israeli Police, via its Arabic-language account on the X platform, reported that tens of thousands of worshippers flocked to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the third Friday of Ramadan. They further stated that their forces were deployed to uphold public order throughout the Old City and to facilitate worshippers' access to the mosque.

Misleading Israeli Claims About Ensuring Muslims’ Religious Freedom

The "IsraelArabic" account shared a video showcasing the influx of worshippers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, claiming that Israel ensures freedom to practice religious rites and prayers for people of all faiths.

Misleading Israeli Claims About Ensuring Muslims’ Religious Freedom

Furthermore, the pro-Israel account "Hoda Jannat" shared a video on X, stating that 120,000 Palestinians were able to pray in Jerusalem under the protection of the Israeli police and military, without any recorded clashes, whether verbal or physical.

Hoda Jannat

Misbar investigated these allegations and found them misleading. The Israeli occupation imposed stringent conditions for Palestinians to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan. They also erected multiple barriers to impede access to Jerusalem, barring numerous worshippers from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque for prayers. Furthermore, there were reports of assaults on some worshippers by Israeli forces.

The Occupation Imposes Stringent Conditions for Entry Into Al-Aqsa Mosque

The occupation's preparations for Ramadan were harsh on the Palestinians. Despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's assurance that the number of worshippers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque would not decrease compared to previous years, National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir imposed additional restrictions on the freedom of worship and prayer at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Prior to Ramadan, Israel implemented a regulation governing the entry of West Bank residents into East Jerusalem for the Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Under this regulation, Israeli occupation authorities only allow individuals with specific permits, including women over 50 years old, male children under 10 years old, and men over 55 years old, to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The Occupation Imposes Stringent Conditions for Entry Into Al-Aqsa Mosque

The restrictions did not stop there, as the occupation forces prevented some Palestinians from the West Bank, who met all these conditions, from performing the third Friday prayer of Ramadan at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Salama Abdel Qader, a 60-year-old Palestinian, told the Anadolu Agency that he was prevented from entering Jerusalem despite having a permit for prayer. Abdel Qader said that on the morning of Friday, March 30, the occupation authorities informed him through a message that he was banned from entering Jerusalem on the pretext of being active in a terrorist organization.

Israel obstructs the

Encirclement of Al-Aqsa and Control Over Its Access Roads

At the start of Ramadan, the occupation intensified its presence in Jerusalem by installing iron barricades at the entrances of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. They also deployed numerous armed police officers and personnel near the Dome of the Rock.

Apart from the harassment endured by worshippers at the entrances to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the complex identity verification procedures, they also face assaults upon entering and exiting the mosque.

Encirclement of Al-Aqsa and Control Over Its Access Roads

Despite the claims made by Israeli accounts, the occupation deliberately obstructed Palestinians from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque and praying there during the third Friday of Ramadan this year. Testimonies shared on social media provided evidence of Palestinians with permits being denied access to the mosque and consequently unable to perform Friday prayers there.

Among these testimonies, the Quds News Network highlighted a case in which a person with special needs was obstructed by the occupation forces from reaching the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Additionally, the network shared a video depicting a Palestinian with an amputated leg in tears while attempting to cross the Qalandia Checkpoint to access the mosque.

As a result of the imposed restrictions, scenes circulated showing Palestinians who were barred from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque resorting to performing the third Friday prayer of Ramadan in front of military barricades on the nearest streets and roads accessible from the mosque.

Calls for I’Tikaf in Al-Aqsa Mosque Until the End of Ramadan

As the last 10 days of Ramadan began, Sheikh Omar Al-Kiswani, the director of Al-Aqsa Mosque, urged Palestinians to perform I'tikaf (seclusion and staying in the mosque for worship) in the mosque until the end of Ramadan. He also encouraged increased attendance next Friday, coinciding with the observance of Laylat Al-Qadr (the Night of Decree), and urged worshippers to persist in overcoming the obstacles placed by the occupation.

Calls for I’Tikaf in Al-Aqsa Mosque Until the End of Ramadan

Israeli Restrictions Extend To Palestinian Christians

While Christians worldwide celebrated Easter freely, Palestinian Christians encountered strict restrictions when trying to enter the Old City of Jerusalem to celebrate the occasion, which this year coincided with the ongoing Israeli war on Gaza since October 7, 2023.

The Palestinian Christian communities adhering to the Western calendar observed "Good Friday" in occupied Jerusalem, amidst strict Israeli military restrictions and heightened security measures at the checkpoints surrounding the city and within the vicinity of the Old City.

The occupation authorities prevent Palestinian Christians from the West Bank from reaching Jerusalem, except with special permits and in limited numbers, while foreign tourists have been avoiding the area since the start of the Israeli war on Gaza.

Settlers Storm Al-Aqsa Mosque During Ramadan

On Sunday, March 24, a group of settlers entered the courtyards of Al-Aqsa Mosque under the protection of the occupation police. This incident coincided with the first day of the Jewish holiday of "Purim." The Islamic Waqf Department reported that the settlers' entry occurred through the Moroccan Gate (Bab Al-Magharib) and that extremist settlers affiliated with temple groups disguised themselves as "temple priests" to strengthen their presence in Al-Aqsa. These settlers conducted provocative tours in the mosque's courtyard and performed Talmudic rituals under the protection of the occupation police. Subsequently, worshippers were expelled from the mosque after the Tarawih prayer on the night of March 25, 2024, and the number of people allowed to enter for the Fajr prayer was reduced.

Settlers Storm Al-Aqsa Mosque During Ramadan

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