The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns in the strongest terms the Israeli authorities’ escalation of the measures taken against al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem. Those measures included closing the Mosque; banning prayers; and establishing metal detector gates at its Gates. PCHR also condemns the Israeli authorities’ use of excessive forces against civilians performing prayers at the Noble Sanctuary’s gates and those participating in protests throughout the Palestinian cities against the Israeli measures. Those protests resulted in the killing of 4 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children, and injury of dozens; most of their condition was described as serious.
PCHR emphasizes that these measures are part of Israeli policies applied to create a Jewish majority in the City and part of the Israeli collective punishment policy, which is prohibited according to the International human rights law. PCHR calls upon the international community, particularly the Permanent Member States of the UN Security Council and High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, to fulfill their moral and legal obligations according to the UN Charter and the mentioned Convention and to take all deterrent measures against the Israeli government’s serious violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt.) PCHR also calls upon the International community to oblige Israel to stop its measures taken to create a Jewish majority in East Jerusalem, which is an integral part of the oPt.
For the 8th consecutive day and the 2nd Friday, in a serious precedent, the Israeli authorities continue to close al-Aqsa Mosque and deprive Muslims of calling to prayer “Adhan” and performing prayers in it. On Sunday morning, 16 July 2017, these authorities established metal detector gates at 9 gates of al-Aqsa; 5 were in the yard of the Lions’ Gate “al-Asbat”, 2 in the Council Gate “al-Majles”, and 2 in the Chain Gate “al-Silselah”. Meanwhile, the Gates of Remission “Huttah”, King Faisal, Bani Ghanim “al-Ghawanmah”, Iron “al-Hdaid”, Ablution “al-Mutaharah”, and Cotton Merchants “al-Qattanin” are so far closed. Since then, the Palestinian worshippers has refused to enter al-Aqsa Mosque through these detector gates and started performing prayers in the yards at the entrances to the Noble Sanctuary. Despite the demands to remove these gates, the Israeli Cabinet in the Israeli government decided in its meeting on Thursday, 20 July 2017, to maintain these detector gates; amass more forces to Jerusalem, its surroundings and al-Aqsa Mosque; impose a tightened closure on Jerusalem; and close all roads and entrances to and from the city
Following Friday’s Prayer today, thousands of Palestinian civilians organized protests throughout the West Bank and Jerusalem against the Israeli authorities’ measures on al-Aqsa Mosque. After finishing the Prayer, Israeli forces, which amassed more military troops into Jerusalem, fired live and rubber-coated metal bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at the Palestinian civilians. As a result, Mohammed Mahmoud Sharaf (17), from Ras al-‘Amoud neighborhood in Silwan village, south of al-Aqsa Mosque, was killed. According to preliminary information obtained by PCHR, the above-mentioned child was wounded with a bullet to the neck after he was shot by a settler. Moreover, Mohammed Hasan Abu Ghannam (21) was shot dead after being hit with a bullet to the chest during clashes erupted in al-Tur Mount, east of the City. In Abu Dis village, east of Jerusalem, Mohammed Khalaf Lafi (17) was hit with a bullet to the chest during clashes erupted in the village. He was then taken to Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah, but doctors there failed to save his life and declared his death in the afternoon. On Thursday noon, 20 July 2017, Israeli forces killed Mohammed Hussein Tanouh (26) when he was near al-Khansaa’ School in Taqou’a village, east of Bethlehem. The Israeli forces claimed Tanouh attempted to carry out a stab attack. However, local eyewitnesses refuted the Israeli claims and said the Israeli soldiers opened fire at him and then ran over him with their military jeep.
Moreover, due to firing live ammunition, sound bombs, and tear gas canisters, dozens of Palestinian protestors were wounded throughout the West Bank. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) at approximately 14:00 GMT, they received 377 wounded persons in the West Bank and Jerusalem. PCHR will later document all the incidents and include them in its weekly report which will be issued on Thursday, 27 July 2017.
PCHR condemns the Israeli government’s escalation of its arbitrary measures against al-Aqsa Mosque as they violate the freedom of worship PCHR also condemns the Israeli forces’ use of excessive force against civilians in the oPt in General and Jerusalem in particular, and holds the Government responsible for the deteriorating situation in the oPt. Thus, PCHR calls upon the international community to break its silence; hold its moral and legal obligations; and immediately intervene to oblige the Israeli forces to respect the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.
In light of the above, PCHR:
- Emphasizes East Jerusalem is an occupied territory, and all the measures taken by the Israeli authorities following the 1967 occupation of it do not change this legal status;
- Calls upon the UN to work on protecting civilians in the oPt in general and in East Jerusalem in particular for guaranteeing their freedom to worship and protecting their holy sites; and
- Calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to ensure Israel’s commitment as a State Party to the Conventions to apply them in the oPt, particularly occupied East Jerusalem.