International Solidarity Movement / Hebron team /
During the last days of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Israeli froces have implemented further restrictions in the area of the Ibrahimi Mosque in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron.) These restrictions deliberately and exclusively target Palestinians in attempts to further cleanse this area of any Palestinian presence.
After 27-year old Sarah Tarayra was gunned down and killed with her unborn baby by Israeli forces at the checkpoint at Ibrahimi Mosque on Friday, 1 July 2016, the checkpoint leading to Ibrahimi Mosque was blocked by Israeli forces for more than two hours. Due to this closure, large numbers of Palestinians on their way to the noon prayer of the last Friday of Ramadan, were stuck at the checkpoint, forced to wait till Israeli forces decided to open and allow the Palestinians to reach the mosque for prayer.
In the days following, Israeli forces at the three checkpoints leading to the area immediately around Ibrahimi Mosque implemented age-restrictions, barring access for any Palestinian between 15 and 30 years old. As these restrictive measures on Palestinians was enforced at all three checkpoints leading to the mosque, it effectively prohibited from anyone in this age group from reaching Ibrahimi Mosque, thus denying them their freedom of religion. In the last few days, a 10-year old Palestinian girl was arrested on settler childrens’ accusations and a Palestinian man beaten up by Israeli forces.
The restrictions though, were implemented not consequently at all times – leaving Palestinians without any possibility to know whether they’d be allowed to pass the checkpoint. Thus, any Palestinian in this age-group is at the mercy of the Israeli forces and the only way to find out whether they’d be allowed to reach the mosque for prayers would be to go to the checkpoint and try to pass. Palestinians have reported, that often certain soldiers at the checkpoints would strictly enforce the restrictions, while others would allow some people in this age group to pass. This uncertainty of whether one would be allowed to pass, leaves Palestinians without any possibility to plan or know whether they’d be allowed to pass, leaving them entirely in the dark about whether they’d be able to reach prayer. At times, even residents in this age-group were denied passage through the checkpoint, denying them to reach their own homes.
As these age-restrictions, as any other restrictions, are only enforced on Palestinians, they clearly illustrate further the apartheid-measures implemented by the Israeli forces, during the last few days especially around the Ibrahimi Mosque. But this is not just yet another illustration of the apartheid system in occupied al-Khalil, but also the continous denial of freedom of religion and movement for the Palestinians in attempts to ethnically cleanse the area of any Palestinian presence.