Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
Press Releases, 03 November 2014
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns the latest Israeli measures and decisions against occupied East Jerusalem that aims to fully creating a Jewish demographic majority in the city. The most serious measure in the past few days was closing the gates of al-Aqsa Mosque and allowing dozens of thousands of settlers and extremist settler groups headed by Israeli ministers and members of the Knesset into the mosque’s yards to perform Talmudic prayers. The Israeli government also threatens to divide the mosque like the division of the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron since Baruch Goldstein committed a massacre on 25 February 1994, when 29 Palestinian worshipers were killed. PCHR confirms the legal status of East Jerusalem as an occupied city and stresses that such decisions and measures are part of the Israeli government’s schemes to fully creating a Jewish demographic majority in the city. Therefore, PCHR calls upon the international community to immediately actt and stop all illegal measures in occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) generally and in occupied Jerusalem specifically.
At approximately 06:00 on Thursday, 30 October 2014, Mo’taz Ibrahim Khalil Hejazi (32) was killed in al-Thawri neighborhood in East Jerusalem, as Israeli forces surrounded his house, ambushed him on the roof and heavily opened fire at him. They claimed that he attempted to assassinate Rabbi Yehuda Glick on the previous night. Following this incident, Israeli authorities closed all gates of the al-Aqsa Mosque for the first time since the city was occupied in 1967. Moreover, Israeli forces besieged the mosque and denied Palestinian worshippers access to it to perform their 5 daily prayers.
According to investigations conducted by PCHR and statements of eyewitnesses, on the abovementioned day, Israeli forces closed all gates of the al-Aqsa Mosque for worshippers from all ages, erected checkpoints and deployed troops around. Moreover, Israeli forces denied even students of al-Aqsa Shari’a Schools access to their school inside (about 500 male and female students), and denied muezzins and Imams access to the mosque. Only 8 persons, including Omar al-Kiswani, director of Al-Aqsa Mosque, and some guards were able to get into the mosque. On the following day, 31 October 2014, thousands of Palestinian worshippers performed the Friday prayer in the city streets, as males aged less than 50 were denied access to the mosque for prayer. It should be noted that Friday was the fourth consecutive Friday that young men were denied access to the mosque. According to estimates of Mr. al-Kiswani, the number of those who performed the Friday prayer in the mosque did not exceed 4,000 worshippers, and they were all elderly men and women. Furthermore, Israeli forces closed the gates of the mosque for students at al-Aqsa school for two consecutive days, arrested Hanadi al-Helwani (31) on Sunday, 02 November 2014, and attacked and arrested Abdul Rahman Sharif (34), a guard of the mosque.
In the same context, as part of the Israeli policies aiming to suppress protests against the Israeli practices in the city, in which children participate, on Sunday, 02 November 2014, the Israeli government approved a bill to impose additional penalties on Palestinian children, who throw stones at Israeli soldiers, mounting to 20-year imprisonment sentences. Office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that the government approved the amendment of the bill in its weekly meeting. This amendment is supposed to be discussed at the Knesset to be approved. According to the statement, „New items will be added to the Penal Code in a way allowing the imposition of penalties mounting to 20 years of imprisonment for those who throw stones or objects at vehicles“.
PCHR reiterates condemnation of the Israeli illegal decisions and measures in the oPt generally and occupied Jerusalem specifically and:
- Calls upon the international community to intervene to compel Israel to stop all settlement activities in the oPt and in occupied East Jerusalem in particular;
- Stresses that East Jerusalem is under occupation and that all measures taken by Israeli authorities after the Israeli occupation of the city in 1976 do not change its legal status as an occupied city;
- Stresses that all Israeli settlement activities in occupied East Jerusalem are considered a war crime under the international humanitarian law; and
- Calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to fulfil their obligations under Common Article 1; i.e., to respect and to ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances. PCHR believes that in the international community conspiracy of silence encourages Israel to commit more violations of the international humanitarian and human rights laws, including measures to create a Jewish demographic majority in Jerusalem.