East Jerusalem put under military siege
Date: 09 / 02 / 2007 Time: 09:42
Jerusalem – Ma’an – The Israeli forces imposed a strict military siege on the Palestinian neighbourhoods of the holy city of Jerusalem on Friday morning, as a precautionary measure against violent protests condemning the Israeli excavations in the area of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Our Jerusalem correspondent reported that Israeli military and police forces had been deployed in large numbers, specifically in the old city. In addition, he said that a military siege has been imposed on the areas of Sheikh Jarrah, At-Tur, Silwan and Bab al-Amoud (Damascus Gate). Palestinians under 45 years of age were banned from entering these neighbourhoods and those older than 45 were allowed only to enter on foot.
He said the Israeli forces closed all the gates leading to the old city and the streets leading to them. The Israeli forces banned Palestinians from the occupied Palestinian territories (the West Bank) from entering the city of Jerusalem for Friday prayers, including those with permits.
Eyewitnesses reported around 1am that slight clashes had broken out around Damascus Gate between stone-throwing Palestinian youths and the Israeli police. Two Palestinian youths were seen being arrested by masked Israeli policemen. The Israeli media reported that one Israeli policeman had been slightly injured.
Protests are expected across the Palestinian territories after the Friday prayers today in condemnation of the ongoing excavations being carried out by the Israeli authorities in the area of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the old city of Jerusalem. The Al-Aqsa Mosque is considered by Muslims to be the third holiest site in the world after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.
The ‘Al Aqsa Society’ called on all Muslim Palestinians inside Israel to travel to the mosque for the Friday prayers. The society called on them to enter the old city from the Magharbeh (‘Moroccan’ or ‘Dung’) gate, which is the gate at the centre of the controversy. The Dung Gate was closed for several years as excavations took place.
The head of the society’s media department, Sheikh Khalid Muhanna, said, “This gate is for the Muslims and they have the right to use it. If we follow the Israeli orders and don’t use it, the Israelis will understand this to mean we are deserting the mosque. That is why we should enter the city from that gate as it is one of the main gates of the mosque”.
Speaking to Ma’an via telephone from the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the head of the Palestinian National Initiative political party, Mustapha Barghouthi, said that the Israelis have imposed very strict measures on the city. Barghouthi succeeded in entering the mosque compound at 4 am this morning. He urged all Palestinians to travel to the city in order to protect the mosque.
He added that what the Israelis are doing to the mosque is a provocation against the Muslims, not only in Palestine but in the rest of the world. This is another step in the Israeli plans to judaize the city, he added. Barghouthi called on the Arabs and Muslims to act in order to protect the mosque.
Friends of Al Aqsa is a voluntary organisation concerned with the defence of
Al Aqsa Haram Sharif and the protection of Palestinian Human Rights.
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