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Gaza worshipers barred from Ramadan travel after rocket fire

June 24, 2015 10:48 A.M. (Updated: June 24, 2015 7:50 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) – Worshipers from the Gaza Strip will be barred from travelling to Jerusalem for prayer in the Al-Aqsa mosque this week after rocket fire from Gaza, the coordinator of Israeli government activities in the Palestinian territory said Wednesday.

The announcement came after rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit an open area near the town of Ashkelon in the western Negev during the early hours of Wednesday, causing no damage or casualties.

The 500 men and women scheduled to leave the strip Thursday and Friday will not be allowed to travel because “the security conditions around the crossing aren’t stable," Yoav Mordechai said, adding that the recent rocket fire landed “not far from the Erez crossing" on the Gaza-Israel border.

Mordechai said that Israeli authorities would reevaluate the security conditions next week in order to determine future travel by Gazans into Jerusalem, emphasizing the role that Gaza's current governing power Hamas plays in the decision.

“Hamas is responsible for depriving worshipers of prayer in Al-Aqsa mosque during Ramadan,” Mordechai said.

“I am not saying that Hamas fired the missile, but Hamas is responsible because it controls the Gaza Strip.”

A round of sporadic rocket fire from the Gaza Strip towards Israel this month has been claimed by smaller political groups allegedly aiming to undermine Hamas' control of the strip. Hamas has attempted to vamp down on such groups who are reportedly growing more active.

The rocket fire comes despite the August 26 ceasefire agreement reached between Israel and Hamas last summer that ended a devastating war inside of the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, near daily Israeli incursions continue into the coastal enclave that have left three Palestinians dead and dozens injured since September.

'Relaxed' restrictions

Wednesday's travel restrictions come as a major blow to Palestinians planning to travel to the mosque compound in East Jerusalem during the holy month of Ramadan.

While Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are subject to strict limitations on movement into East Jerusalem, part of the occupied Palestinian territories, Israel has historically made gestures ahead of and during Ramadan, partially easing restrictions.

In response to this year's good-will gesture, the director of the Palestinian Ministry of Endowment Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib told Ma'an that every Palestinian Muslim has the right to pray at the holy site during Ramadan, criticizing heavy Israeli restrictions on access.

“All the people of Palestine have the right to access the city and pray in the Al-Aqsa Mosque in full freedom without the need for permits," he said.

Several Palestinians have been detained or barred from the compound by Israeli forces this week, and heavy security has been seen around Jerusalem's old city since the start of Ramadan.

Israeli easing of restrictions came on the condition that security wasn't "breached."

After an Israeli hiker was killed in the occupied West Bank and an Israeli policeman was stabbed in East Jerusalem last week, Israel on Sunday revoked entry permits for residents of the West Bank village home to the Palestinian who had stabbed the policeman.

It also cancelled permission for 500 West Bank Palestinians to fly via Israel's Ben Gurion airport.

AFP contributed to this report.
spb / usa
seriously? do you expect anyone to open the door to someone outside screaming his intent to murder you and your family?
24/06/2015 12:42
Yenta / Lithuania
There are always the consequences to indiscriminate rocket fire on Israeli civilians to consider, next time your brother, uncle, cousin pops out to fire a rocket off in the middle of the night.
24/06/2015 13:03
Henri / France
“Hamas is responsible for depriving worshipers of prayer in Al-Aqsa mosque during Ramadan,”

“I am not saying that Hamas fired the missile, but Hamas is responsible because it controls the Gaza Strip.” Well, that certainly seems clear and fair enough.
24/06/2015 13:22
Number of permits / Togo
Ma'an failed to mention the number: Israel said Wednesday it was revoking permits for 500 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to enter Jerusalem ahead of Friday prayers because of rocket fire from the Palestinian enclave.
24/06/2015 14:04
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