Extremist Israeli settlers again break into Al-Aqsa

Ahram Online , Sunday 30 Jul 2023

Groups of extremist Israeli Jewish settlers heavily guarded by police broke into the courtyards of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied Jerusalem on Sunday morning, the Palestinian News Agency, WAFA, reported.

Israeli police escort Israeli settlers visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, in the occupied Old City of Jerusalem - File photo. AP


Witnesses said scores of Israeli settlers entered the compound through the Moroccan Gate in groups and performed rituals there under the protection of Israeli police officers.

Under a longstanding status quo, non-Muslims can, only after permission from the Islamic Waqf, the Jordan-run authority in charge of the holy site, but are not allowed to pray there, visit the site at specific times but are not allowed to pray there. 

However, Israeli settlers and politicians routinely violate the arrangement by storming the compound, under heavy police protection, almost on a daily basis, with the exception of Friday, the Muslim day of rest and worship, and Saturday of every week.

On 27 July, extremist Israeli Cabinet minister Itamar Ben-Gvir visited the compounds of al-Aqsa mosque, drawing condemnation from Palestinians and the international community who view such visits as provocative and aiming at changing the status quo of the Muslim Holy site. 

These incidents reached a head in April when Israeli police assaulted the mosque, which had been occupied by Palestinian worshippers, injuring at least 50 and arresting hundreds. 

Netanyahu's government, consisting of extremists and settlement supporters like Ben-Gvir, has intensified steps to solidify Israel's hold on territories that Palestinians seek for a future state, angering Israel's top ally, the United States, and dimming hopes for Palestinian statehood.

Ben-Gvir, long accused of inflaming Jewish-Arab tensions, has also set his sights on one of the conflict's most sensitive issues: Palestinian prisoners. 

On Sunday morning, an amendment to the law on the administrative release of Palestinian prisoners was issued by Ben-Gvir. This amendment canceled a previous policy that had allowed the early release of some Palestinian prisoners from prison.

This is part of Ben-Gvir's efforts to make life difficult for Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Israeli prisons, who, in the past, were eligible for early release due to a lack of space to house them.

Since becoming a part of Israel’s extremist government, Ben-Gvir has taken it upon himself to impose sanctions on Palestinians, including the prisoners, aiming to further exacerbate the challenges they already face under Israeli occupation, as reported by WAFA.

Some of the sanctions imposed on the prisoners include limiting the amount of water they can use and reducing the time allowed for showering to a specific hour. Additionally, specific bathrooms designated for showering in some prisons have been locked.

The prisoners are also reportedly provided with low-quality bread, and the raids and searches against them have been doubled, often using stun grenades and sniffer dogs.

Even more concerning is the approval of a preliminary reading of a draft law that would deprive prisoners of medical treatment and some surgical operations, as well as the approval of the Ministerial Legislative Committee in the Israeli government of a draft law that would approve capital punishment for prisoners involved in armed resistance, according to WAFA.

Ben-Gvir has also implemented racist measures against the prisoners, such as doubling the use of solitary confinement, removing television sets from certain sections where detainees are held, escalating transfers of the leaders of the prisoners' movement, particularly those serving life sentences, and even threatening to close public facilities on Fridays and Saturdays in some central prisons.




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