Israel today shot dead two Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, continuing its crack down on worshippers in the holy month of Ramadan.
The first, a 19-year old Palestinian who has yet to be named, was shot in Jerusalem in the early hours of this morning. It is believed that the teen, who is originally from the occupied West Bank, was in Jerusalem to visit Al-Aqsa Mosque for the last Friday of Ramadan.
Israeli media has accused the teen of attempting to carry out a stabbing attack against two Israeli settlers near the Old City’s Damascus Gate. He was shot dead by the Israel Police at the scene.
The police then imposed severe restrictions on movement in the Old City and around Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, inspecting all Palestinian worshippers travelling to the site, a correspondent from Wafa reported.
Meanwhile in the occupied West Bank, 16-year-old Abdullah Louai Ghaith was shot near the city of Bethlehem. Originally from Hebron, Ghaith was trying to cross the Wadi Abu Al-Hummus area, located near the villages of Al-Khas and Al-Numan, when the Israeli army opened fire, hitting him in the chest. He was killed instantly.
Another Palestinian, 21-year-old Mu’men Abu Tbaish, was also critically injured and rushed to a nearby hospital, Wafa reported.
Ghaith and Tbaish were reportedly trying to reach Al-Aqsa Mosque, which West Bank Palestinians cannot access without an Israeli travel permit. Although Israel has, on paper, allowed men over 40, children under 13 and women to travel to Jerusalem without permits during Ramadan, men under 40 are completely banned from entering the city without documentation.
However, in practice Israel has repeatedly prevented Palestinians from travelling to Jerusalem during Ramadan. Earlier this month, an investigation by Al-Monitor found that “there are no official criteria for the permits, only conditions for consideration”. In addition, applicants may request a permit but can be rejected without justification.
Palestinian Authority (PA) spokesperson Walid Wahdan told the Washington-based organisation that 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”.
Earlier this month, a Palestinian man died at an Israeli checkpoint while trying to visit Al-Aqsa. Sixty-three-year-old Sulieman Jamal Al-Harroub from Hebron died of a heart attack at Checkpoint 300, near Bethlehem, after being forced to wait in a long queue in the summer heat. Though Israel released a video claiming to have eased checkpoint procedures for Ramadan, in reality the process remains arduous.
Those Palestinians who do manage to reach Al-Aqsa are often subjected to evictions from the compound, arbitrary arrest and repeated storming of the holy site by Israeli settlers. Though the Jordanian Waqf, the religious endowment which administers the compound, has condemned Israel’s actions, the latter has not altered its policy.