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Israel's ban on Palestinian citizens of Israel entering Al-Aqsa 'illegal,' rights group says

Aug. 16, 2017 8:24 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 17, 2017 1:14 P.M.)
Muslim worshipers pictured in June praying ar Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli/File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli rights group Adalah released a statement on Wednesday, calling Israel’s ban on residents of the Palestinian majority town of Umm al-Fahm in Israel from entering Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem “illegal” and “irrational.”

Reports emerged last week that Palestinian citizens of Israel were being prohibited from entering the Old City of Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa Mosque is located.

Adalah confirmed that Israel had issued a ban on residents of Umm al-Fahm, the hometown of three Palestinians who 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.

Adalah reported that Palestinian women who had been prevented from entering Al-Aqsa said that the Israeli police were banning them because they were members of the Jabareen family, the same family as the alleged assailants.

According to Adalah, 16,000 of Umm al-Fahm’s 55,000 residents are from the Jabareen family. It is common in Palestinians towns and villages for most residents to share the same last name.

Adalah has sent a letter to senior Israeli officials demanding a halt to the “illegal” policy.

“This policy infringes upon freedom of worship, religion, and movement and it violates the worshippers' right to dignity. Given the ban's sweeping nature, it is disproportional, irrational, and causes significant harm to its victims," the letter read.

Following the deadly shooting last month, Israeli authorities shut down 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, Israeli forces have since led a crackdown on Palestinians in East Jerusalem who participated in the demonstrations and have continued security measures prohibiting certain Palestinians from entering the holy site.
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