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Israeli forces ban Palestinian citizens of Israel from entering Old City of Jerusalem

Aug. 9, 2017 12:49 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 9, 2017 4:58 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces prevented dozens of Palestinian citizens of Israel from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem on Tuesday afternoon, claiming that they had been subjected to bans from “higher orders.”

Sources told Ma’an that Israeli forces were deployed at the entrances to the Old City and Al-Aqsa ahead of the asr afternoon prayers, examining the IDs of people entering the Old City, and preventing Palestinians whose ID cards said they resided in Palestinian-majority towns in Israel from entering.

Witnesses said that Israeli forces chased after some people who tried to pass through Damascus Gate into the Old City despite having been told they were not allowed in, and escorted them out.

The witnesses added that Israeli forces had forced some buses carrying worshipers to leave Jerusalem.

A worshiper from the town of Umm al-Fahm said that some eight buses coming from Palestinian-majority municipalities such as Umm al-Fahm, Mashhad, and Baqa al-Gharbiya had been stopped by Israeli security forces upon arriving at the Old City of Jerusalem.

He added that while some passengers were prevented from exiting the buses, those who did pass through the first security check were eventually rebuffed at the entrances of the Old City.

The ban affected all Palestinian citizens of Israel, including women, children, and the elderly, the worshiper said.

Israeli forces also reportedly assaulted and detained a local sheikh, identified as Nour al-Rajabi, at Al-Aqsa’s Lions’ Gate.

Israel has increased security measures in the Old City of Jerusalem since three Palestinian citizens of Israel carried out a deadly shooting attack at Al-Aqsa on July 14, killing two Israeli police officers before being shot and killed themselves by Israeli forces.

Israeli authorities shut down the Al-Aqsa compound, the third holiest site in Islam which falls under Jordanian custodianship, for almost three days following the attack, only to reopen it after having installed increased security measures, including metal detectors, turnstiles, and security cameras.

The measures sparked widespread protests for nearly two weeks in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem -- as Palestinians said the move was the latest example of Israel using Israeli-Palestinian violence as a means of furthering control over important sites in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Despite Israeli forces’ violent repression of demonstrations across the occupied Palestinian territory, during which six Palestinians were killed, Israel eventually backtracked and removed all new security apparatus at the compound, in what was celebrated as a victory of popular Palestinian mobilization.

However, more than 150 Palestinians have been detained in Jerusalem since the removal of the security measures, in a crackdown on people who participated in the demonstrations.
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