16 March 2010
On 12 January 2010 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that Israel would never ‘cede control of united Jerusalem nor retreat to the 1967 borders’. Since this
assertion by Netanyahu that Israel would never end its military occupation of East Jerusalem and return to the 1967 Green Line, Israeli military forces have gradually increased restrictions on Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem. In recent days, there has been a sudden increase in closures and restrictions imposed most significantly in Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan, and the Old City of Jerusalem.
On 28 February Israeli military forces stormed the yards of Al-Aqsa Mosque, in the Old City of Jerusalem, firing rubber bullets and tear gas at worshippers holding a demonstration in the compound. In the weeks following the incident, tensions in the Old City have continued to rise with repeated clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem. It appears inevitable that clashes will intensify in the coming days as Jewish settlers re-open the Hurva Synagogue in the Old City's Jewish Quarter on 15 March and as they attempt to lay the foundation stone for the Temple Mount on 16 March.
Since Thursday, 11 March, the Old City has been surrounded by Israeli military and police personnel who control the movement of Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, as well as Palestinian citizens of Israel, in and out of the gates. Israeli forces are denying entry to any Palestinian below the age of 50 who does not have an address within the Old City. In addition, Al-Aqsa mosque's yards have been under restrictive closure since Friday 12 March, with Israeli forces preventing Palestinians under the age of 50 from praying there. Furthermore, three schools located within the Al-Aqsa compound have been affected by the closure, while the students of all the boys’ schools in the Old City are being denied access to their places of study.
As a Palestinian human rights organization, Al Haq finds it necessary to highlight the ongoing violations of human rights resulting from Israel's discriminatory policies, and requests that action be taken by the international community to prevent Israeli violations of Palestinian rights. The right to manifest religion through worship, the right to education, and the right to freedom of movement are amongst the most basic of rights. Israel’s continuing discriminatory and unlawful policies and practices are successfully raising tensions in East Jerusalem, contributing to the manifold pressures on Palestinians to leave the city. These actions and policies are aimed towards, and effectively achieving, a gradual erosion of the Arabic and Palestinian characteristics of East Jerusalem. The vast majority of Palestinians living under the occupation are already denied any form of access to Jerusalem and its Holy Sites. What we are now witnessing is a further restriction on the rights of Palestinian residents of Jerusalem to move and live within their own city, and a significant assault on the Palestinians right to self-determination.