Demonstrations have ignited all over the West Bank, with popular resistance in Jerusalemâs Old City, especially within the holy compound of al-Aqsa mosque, standing strongest. Almost 100 people were injured Friday protecting the holy sites and claiming their ownership of Jerusalem.
Last Tuesday, Occupation forces prepared to remove the ruins of Mamluk palaces and to demolish the access to the Maghrebi Gate of al-Aqsa mosque, allowing the creation of tunnels underneath Islamâs third holiest site which threaten its very stability. Since then, tensions have been high and condemnations have accompanied protests which escalated today after the Friday prayers.
***image2***The Occupation has blocked all access to Jerusalem, installing checkpoints on all roads leading to the Palestinian capital, and completely sealed off all gates to the Old City. The following inhabited areas have also been closed: Bab al Amoud, Silwan, Sheikh Jarrah, Salahuddin, and Tur.
Despite these barriers, approximately 1,000 Palestinians have gathered since the early morning hours within the area of al-Aqsa mosque. The Occupation tried to bar access, but the crowd fought their way in with barrages of stones. After the early morning prayer, Occupation forces entered the holy places and threw tear gas and sound bombs. The resistance of the people- young and old, men and womenâ continued until after the main midday prayer when some 3,000 people protested the attacks on religion and people in the heart of the Old City. The Occupation then closed off the whole area around the mosque and cut water, electricity and phone lines. In the meanwhile, clashes broke out at the historic gates of the Old City where the Occupation attempted to disperse the crowd who were not allowed inside.
When the people were able to leave the mosque area, clashes continued throughout the street of the Old City. Over the day, 17 people were arrested. 80 people were injured in the Old City alone, including one boy who was shot in the head, yet ambulances were barred from entering the area to assist them.
The news and images of the protests and vicious repression of the people in Jerusalem spread around the West Bank together with calls for mobilization.
At Qalandiya, the main checkpoint blocking access to Jerusalem from the West Bank, hundreds of people of all ages gathered from the refugees camps in Ramallah after the Friday prayer. As the crowd attempted to force their way to Jerusalem, the Occupation forces closed the road leading from Ramallah to Jerusalem and tried to disperse the people with heavy loads of tear gas, sound bombs, and rubber and live bullets. Yet, the confrontations lasted for hours, with resistance coming from everywhere in the Qalandiya refugee camp next to the checkpoint. At the end of the day, another 15 people were left injured in Qalandiya as well.
Further north, in Azoun (located south of Qalqiliya city), the people marched after the Friday prayer to the main entrance of the village which connects Jayyous, Falamiye and Tulkarem district with Qalqiliya City. After clashes with the Occupation forces, the entire road has been blocked. Qalqiliya City itself has been sealed off from the rest of the world since yesterday, but a protest was held there as well, and 2 people were arrested.
In Tulkarem, 1,000 people gathered after the prayer holding Palestinian flags and pictures of al-Aqsa mosque. The protest called on all political parties to stand together against the attacks on Jerusalem and the holy places.
To the south of Jerusalem, at Rachelâs Tomb where the checkpoint is situated that isolates Bethlehem from Jerusalem, protests spread this afternoon. For hours, youth fought the violence of Occupation forces with stones.
In Arrub refugee camp, Hebron district, clashes began when the people marched from the mosque to the watch tower the Occupation had built to control the camp, near Apartheid Road 60. In the clashes, a 15 year old boy suffered severe head injuries and is in critical condition.
In Hebron City, 12 people were injured in a protest at the entrance of Shuhada Street, the old city which is prohibited for Palestinians to enter. After the prayer, many of the angry youth started to throw stones against the Occupationâs watch tower to gain access to their historical city and the road which leads to the now-inaccessible main mosque of the city.
The outbreak of anger and the unity shown by the people in their resistance all over the West Bank is yet another sign that Palestinians cannot be subdued to accept the ghettoization and humiliation imposed on them by the Occupation, and they will not let their religion and culture be destroyed.