JENIN: For the sixth consecutive week, Israeli authorities imposed tight restrictions on Palestinians, banning them from entering Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem for Friday prayers, leaving the mosque all but empty, Anadolu Agency reported.
An official said that only around 4,000 Palestinians, most of them elderly, had managed to reach the venerated mosque to perform Friday prayers due to the strict Israeli control of the streets.
Israeli forces have been heavily deployed across occupied East Jerusalem, particularly in the Old City and the entrances leading to the mosque.
Hundreds of Palestinians were forced to perform Friday prayers in the streets near the Old City area after being barred from entering the mosque itself.
10 killed in West Bank fighting; Blinken warns Tel Aviv to stop settler violence
The Israeli side gave no reasons for restricting Muslims’ access to Al-Aqsa for prayers.
Violence in the West Bank
The Israeli army has killed over half dozen people in the West Bank in the past couple of days, amid a dramatic rise in the number of violent incidents in the Palestinian territory.
Israeli forces carried out an operation overnight Thursday-Friday in a refugee camp in Jenin, claiming to have killed five people.
The Palestinian health ministry in Ramallah said three people had been killed in the Jenin raid and 15 wounded, four of them critically.
In the south, the ministry also said two people were killed “by Israeli army bullets” at the entrance to the flashpoint city of Hebron.
A day earlier, three Palestinians were killed at a checkpoint on a road between Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Bethlehem, while an Israeli soldier was killed and others wounded in a shootout.
Palestinians in the occupied West Bank say they have faced increased harassment from Israeli settlers since the war began.
Warning on settler violence
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday called on Israel to take “urgent” action to stop settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank.
Blinken, in San Francisco for an Asia-Pacific summit, made the plea in a telephone call with Benny Gantz, an opposition leader who joined Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wartime cabinet.
Blinken “stressed the urgent need for affirmative steps to de-escalate tensions in the West Bank, including by confronting rising levels of settler extremist violence,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said.
On the war front, Blinken with Gantz “discussed efforts to augment and accelerate the transit of critical humanitarian assistance into Gaza,” Miller said.
“We have seen far too many Palestinian civilians killed and we have been urging Israel all along to do everything possible to minimize civilian casualties,” Blinken told NBC News on Thursday.
Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2023