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4 Palestinians banned from Jerusalem, Israel over rock throwing at Al-Aqsa

June 12, 2017 10:44 A.M. (Updated: June 12, 2017 5:05 P.M.)
(AFP, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities have banned four Palestinians from entering occupied East Jerusalem and Israel, after the four were detained, interrogated, and released without charge for allegedly throwing rocks inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City on Sunday.

Israeli forces had imposed a brief lockdown at the compound, denying entry or exit to Muslim worshipers, after one rock was allegedly thrown at a group of some 60 extremist Israelis who were touring the holy site early Sunday morning.

Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri wrote in a statement Monday that after two Palestinians from Nablus in the occupied West Bank were detained Sunday afternoon and accused of the rock throwing, two Palestinians from the central occupied West Bank city of Ramallah were later detained while inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for their alleged involvement in the same incident.

She said that "all suspects were interrogated at Qishla police station in the Old City before they were released on condition that they will be banned from entering Jerusalem. In addition, the suspects will not be allowed to enter Israeli territories at all in future."

Israeli forces routinely ban Palestinians from Jerusalem for purported security reasons, as the some 3.5 million Palestinians residing in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip must rely on Israeli-issued permits to enter Jerusalem and Israel.

Israel’s permit regime has often times split up Palestinian families when several members hold different residency statuses, a system which Palestinian nonprofit BADIL has said rests on “entirely arbitrary distinctions.”

The incident also came amid the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when Palestinian residents of the West Bank who are not typically allowed to access occupied East Jerusalem or Israel can be granted special permits in order to pray at Al-Aqsa and visit their families. However, the thousands who do get permits are still subjected to long waits and checkpoints and searches by armed Israeli forces.

The fate of Jerusalem has been a focal point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades, with numerous tensions arising over Israeli threats regarding the status of non-Jewish religious sites in the city, and the "Judaization" of East Jerusalem through settlement construction and mass demolitions of Palestinian homes.

Following Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967, Israel has maintained a compromise with the Islamic trust that controls the Al-Aqsa compound to not allow non-Muslim prayers in the area.

Israeli forces nonetheless regularly escort Jewish visitors to the site, leading to tension with Palestinian worshipers.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which sits just above the Western Wall plaza, houses both the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque. The third holiest site in Islam, it is also venerated as Judaism's most holy place, as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood.
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