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1948 Palestinians, Nazareth churches, Gazans protest Israel 'quiet mosques' bill

Palestinians protest Israeli law to curb their religious freedom; see video inside of Nazareth church solidarity action with Mu

AFP , Friday 18 Nov 2016
The minaret of a mosque is seen in Lod in central Israel Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016 (Photo: AP)

Hundreds of Palestinian Muslims and Christians in Israel and the occupied Jerusalem, West Bank, and Gaza Strip demonstrated on Friday against a bill to limit the volume of calls to prayer at mosques and churches in Israel.

All Palestinian churches in Nazareth carried the Islamic call for Friday noon prayers for Muslims.

In the southern city of Rahat, more than a hundred 1948 Palestinians held a rally against the government bill, while 500 protested in the north, police said.

In Gaza, which has been under an Israeli siege since 2006, hundreds of supporters of the Islamist Hamas group that controls the Palestinian territory held a protest march through the Jabalia refugee camp near the enclave's northern border.

Yusef al-Sharafi, a Hamas leader, told the crowd that "this unprecedented Zionist decision is an encroachment on the freedom of Muslims".

"Attempts to ban the Azan (call to prayer) are doomed to fail because of the steadfastness of the Palestinians," he said, reiterating the long-standing Hamas demand that the Palestinian Authority end its security cooperation with Israel.

The bill, which passed the ministerial committee for legislation on Sunday, had been appealed by Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, who demanded another discussion on it before its first parliamentary reading.

Litzman, a member of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party, was concerned that the bill could also outlaw the weekly sirens that indicate the beginning of the Sabbath.

The bill, drafted by Moti Yogev and supported by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will now be put on hold until a ministerial committee holds a second vote.

It was drafted allegedly in response to noise from mosques, but would in theory apply to all religious institutions.

The 1948 Palestinians, the vast majority of them Muslim, suffer from discrimination in all aspects of daily life including housing and jobs among other problems.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online. 

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