For the second year in a row in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, a group of Palestinian volunteers offered free rides for worshippers travelling to the Qalandiya military checkpoint – which separates Ramallah and Jerusalem – heading to the Al-Aqsa mosque for Friday prayers in occupied East Jerusalem.
Volunteers used their private cars and vans to transport hundreds of worshippers free of charge.
One of the volunteers, Muhammad Marwan from the Ramallah-area al-Amari refugee camp, told <i>Ma’an</i> that the idea began with his brother Usama and his father, who both own their own mini buses.After they began transporting worshippers, Usama and his father then they asked other people who owned mini buses to join them in the campaign to support and encourage worshippers to pray in Al-Aqsa mosque.
Muhammad added that this year, one volunteer driver had a heart condition, and imposed only one condition on his passengers: they they pray for him.
Palestinian residents of the West Bank are not allowed to access occupied East Jerusalem or Israel without Israeli-issued permits, despite East Jerusalem being part of the Palestinian territory.
Ramadan typically sees a slight ease of permit restrictions on Palestinians, particularly women, though the thousands who do get permits are still subjected to long waits and checkpoints and searches by armed Israeli forces.
During Ramadan, Israeli authorities permit men above the age of 40, women of all ages, and children younger than 12 years of age from the occupied West Bank to enter Jerusalem without a permit on Fridays, while all others are only allowed to enter with Israeli-issued permits.