Israel eases Palestinian entry restrictions to Aqsa ahead of Ramadan
Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) announced on Monday the easing of restrictions for Palestinians wishing to enter Jerusalem and pray at the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif during the month of Ramadan.
The step by Israel is routine, but the current decision also comes in the context of two US-initiated meetings, first in Aqaba, Jordan, and then in Sharm al-Sheikh, Egypt, to further escalate tensions. relief in the West Bank and the West Bank. Jerusalem during the holiday month.
According to the new measures, Palestinian women, Palestinian men over the age of 55 and children up to the age of 12 living in the West Bank will be allowed to enter Israel and the Haram al-Sharif compound in Jerusalem without a permit for Ramadan on Friday. prayers. Palestinian men between the ages of 45-55 will be able to enter the mosque compound subject to a permit, which would then be subject to security clearance. In comparison, last year, Palestinian men aged 50-55 and older were allowed to enter the compound without a special permit.
Another concession announced was allowing a certain number (the exact number was not disclosed) of women aged 50 and over and men over 55 living in the Gaza Strip to visit Jerusalem between Sunday and Thursday.
In addition, Palestinians living in the West Bank will be allowed to visit family members living in Israel during Ramadan. Those living abroad would be allowed to visit their family in the West Bank. Both cases, however, would be subject to Israeli security clearance. Palestinians living in the West Bank will be allowed to book tickets for certain flights abroad through the southern Ramon Airport, and crossing points between Israel and the West Bank will operate sometimes longer than usual.
Visiting the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif compound is highly regulated. Jews are allowed to go up at certain times in the morning and in the afternoon. They are not allowed to pray there. For the past decade or so, the Israel Police have limited visiting times for Jews during the month of Ramadan, which is usually only authorized in the morning hours. No visits were authorized for Jews during the last 10 days of Ramadan, which are considered the holiest days of the month.
This year, the situation is more complicated. Some of these last 10 days fall on the Jewish holiday of Passover, when Jewish activists are increasing their visits to the compound. Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir is himself an advocate for Jewish visits to the site and has often asked to allow Jews to visit at any time of the day and to allow Jews to pray there as well. His wife, Ayala, is a member of one of the Temple Mount activist groups. Therefore, Ben-Gvir will certainly be under pressure to allow Jewish activists to visit the compound during the week of Passover.