Palestinians in Jerusalem’s Old City are describing it as a community “under siege” as Israeli forces continue to operate in large numbers fearing renewed demonstrations.
Restrictions in the city were so severe that children were prevented from reaching schools in the Old City.
Israeli forces also prevented Islamic Endowment (Waqf) personnel from reaching the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which has been the site of rolling demonstrations and clashes with Israeli forces over the past four days.
Meanwhile, a delegation of Palestinian officials from inside Israeli, including members of the Knesset, arrived in the Old City to meet with Waqf officials.
The delegation also planned to visit a group of worshippers who have been holed up inside the Mosque for the past five days in an ongoing standoff with Israeli police who have threatened to arrest them.
Israeli police initially prevented the official delegation from entering the Mosque but then relented, reportedly after coordination with security officials.
Inside the Al-Aqsa Compound, Mufti Muhammad Hussein received the delegation. “All attempts by the Israeli occupation to divide the Palestinians, be they in the West Bank, Gaza Strip or Jerusalem, will fail,” he was quoted as saying by the website Ynet.
The recent protests, he added, “Are the product of the occupation… If religious equality were exercised we wouldn’t have such problems. Jewish extremists would go as far as endangering the mosque – they declare as much day in and day out – that is what has brought on the recent day’s events.”
In an indication of the policies that are fueling Palestinian protests, later on Wednesday Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai and other senior Israeli officials are to attend a stone-laying ceremony for an expansion of a settlement called Nof Zion, in the Jabal Mukabber area of East Jerusalem.
Preparations are also underway to expand settlements in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and in a settlement called Kadmat Zion, in the East Jerusalem town of Abu Dis.
Ziad Al-Hamuri, the director of the Al-Quds Center for Social and Economic Rights said that the Israeli security operation and the redoubled expansion of settlements represent an escalation of Israeli policies underlying public anger in East Jerusalem.