Palestinians under Israeli occupation are facing blanket and confusing restrictions to visit Al-Aqsa for Ramadan, according to a report by Al-Monitor.
This year, “men who are under 16 and over 40 years old are allowed to visit Al-Aqsa Mosque”, the report stated. “Women of all ages are allowed to visit the mosque on Fridays.”
However, the article continued, “men aged between 30 and 40 need permits to do so, and those 16-29 are ineligible to apply.”
According to Al-Monitor, “ten years ago, Israel started to allow Palestinians in the West Bank to enter Jerusalem to pray at Al-Aqsa during the month of Ramadan. Eligibility is generally determined by age group and depends on Israel’s political relationship with the Palestinian Authority.”
Frustratingly, “there are no official criteria for the permits, only conditions for consideration.” Applicants may request a permit, but can be rejected without knowing the reason why.
Palestinian Authority spokesperson Walid Wahdan told Al-Monitor “that Palestinians consider access to Al-Aqsa a right”.
“The Israeli side has been declaring such measures on religious occasions for ten years now, but it has now linked them to a set of requirements,” he added.
Wahdan noted that the set of conditions for eligibility can vary; “sometimes applicants must be married, and widowers or divorcees are excluded”. Thousands of others, meanwhile, “are denied permits for security reasons”.