The restrictions to entry to Al-Aqsa Mosque and Christian sites of worship in occupied East Jerusalem are an unlawful, provocative and deeply insensitive measure taken by the Israeli forces. Palestinians have the right to manifest their religions or beliefs through worship at these holy sites without arbitrary interference. It is crucial that this right is respected at all times and accommodation is made during religious holidays such as the holy month of Ramadan, Easter and Passover.
ICJP expresses its’ deep concern regarding the reported Israeli attacks against Muslim worshippers in Al Aqsa Compound during the entire month of Ramadan, specifically those that took place on April 15 and April 22, 2022.
On April 15, Israeli forces reportedly raided Al Aqsa Compound attacking peaceful worshippers including women, the elderly, children as well as a number of members of the press, who according to the UN did not appear to pose any threat, wounding and detaining dozens of Palestinians. The day was marked by the excessive use of rubber-coated steel bullets, teargas and stun grenades inside the courtyards and prayer halls of the mosque. The Palestinian Red Crescent reported the number of Palestinians treated for their injuries at local hospitals at 152. According to UN sources at least 400 Palestinians were detained.
A similar excessive use of force was deployed on April 22, when Israeli forces raided the compound assaulting Palestinian worshippers, wounding at least 54 Palestinians.
ICJP draws specific attention to the Israeli restrictions against Palestinian Christians; on April 23, 2022, Israeli forces closed the New Gate to the Old City to Christian worshippers attempting to celebrate Holy Saturday in Jerusalem. Footage published by the Institute for Middle East Institute (IMEU) shows Israeli forces separating Christian worshippers on the basis of their ethnicity, showing an Israeli officer saying “Arab Christians, Christians who speak Arabic to the right, Foreign Christians to the left” is alarming.
The use of force is strictly limited and governed by international norms and standards in the context of belligerent occupation. The conduct of the Israeli forces has resulted in a high level of injuries of worshippers and staff in and around in Al-Aqsa compound, including women and children. These attacks – frequently brutal, unwarranted and excessive – are in clear violation of these international standards.
ICJP calls for an independent, impartial, transparent investigation into these incidents of violence and restrictions of access to places of worship.