February 2019…Reopening the chapel of Al-Rahma Gate…dozens of arrests and isolation orders from Al-Aqsa Mosque
Wadi Hilweh Information Center released its monthly report for February 2019, in which it documented violations by the Israeli occupation authorities against the Palestinian population in Jerusalem.
The Information Center said in its monthly report that the occupation authorities stepped up violations in Al-Aqsa Mosque in an attempt to suppress a popular uprising that was launched in the city to reopen the chapel of Al-Rahma Gate. The forces also executed a series if arrests and issued orders isolating Palestinians from Al-Aqsa and the Old City of Jerusalem.
The center monitored the arrest of 229 Palestinians from the city of Jerusalem, issued 133 isolation orders and demolished 15 structures in the city.
In a serious escalation and a new attempt to impose sovereignty on Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Israeli occupation authorities closed the gate leading to the chapel of Al--Rahma Gate and placed locks and iron chains in response to members of the Awqaf Council performing prayers inside the chapel last month. The forces raided Al-Aqsa twice and attacked the worshipers and arrested a number of them, and increased their presence at the gates of Al-Aqsa, especially in the last week of last month. With all these procedures, the chapel of Al-Rahma Gate was reopened, located in the eastern part of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The information center said that Jerusalemites initiated what they called "Al-Rahma gate uprising- the gate is ours" on 18/2/2019, where they announced an open sit-in in the area of Bab al-Rahma, until the removal of the iron chains and locks, and reopening the closed chapel since 2003. Prayers and sit-ins were held in the area of Al-Rahma Gate and then in the courtyard from Monday to Thursday evening "18-21 February.
On February 18th, the occupation forces stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque after the Noon prayer, and assaulted the worshipers and students of the schools of Al-Aqsa and arrested some of them. On the same day, the young men were able to break the iron door leading to the chapel of Al-Rahma Gate despite being beaten, arrested, and suppressed.
On February 19th, the occupation forces stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque after the Evening prayer in the area of Al-Rahma Gate, and assaulted dozens of worshipers of women and young men and boys and severely beat them, and imposed a siege on the mosque and prevented entry. The forces forcibly evacuated the courtyards and arrested 22 youths during which several people were injured with bruises and wounds, and the medical crews transferred two young men for treatment in the hospital.
Sit-ins and prayers continued on February 20th and 21st since the Noon prayer until the Night prayer, despite the occupation's harassment of the protestors by photographing them and detaining their identities and chasing them at the gates of Al-Aqsa and threatening them with arrest and deportation, until the members of the Islamic Awqaf Council opened the door of the closed building before the last Friday Noon prayer of February.
It is noteworthy that the building of Al-Rahma Gate has been closed since 2003 by a decision of the police inspector general on the pretext of the existence of a terrorist organization called "Heritage Committee". The police continued to renew the closure order, until 2017 when the case was transferred to the Israeli court and a lawsuit was filed against the Islamic Awqaf department and Heritage Committee. A judicial decision to close Al-Rahma Gate indefinitely was issued without specifying the date. At the end of last month, it was revealed that the order to close the building is illegal and not effective, where it ended in late 2017, and was never renewed.
Wadi Hilweh Information Center said that 1944 settlers, including 520 Jewish students, stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque in February. The incursions are organized by "alleged temple groups" throughout the week, except on Fridays and Saturdays during the morning and afternoon break-in sessions and are conducted through Dung Gate which has been controlled by the occupation authorities since the occupation of the city of Jerusalem.
The center added that among those who stormed Al-Aqsa last month were the Israeli Minister of Agriculture, Uri Ariel, who broke-in twice, and MK Yehuda Glick.
Arrests ... and isolation orders
The occupation authorities escalated its arrest campaign in the city of Jerusalem in the month of February, and arrested 229 Palestinians, including 170 people arrested during the period between February 18-28, following sit-ins in Al-Rahma Gate. Among the detainees were 43 minors, 12 women, and a girl.
The arrests last month included Islamic Council President Sheikh Abdul Azim Salhab, Deputy Director of Jerusalem Awqaf Sheikh Najeh Bkeirat, and Jerusalem Governor Adnan Ghaith.
Wadi Hilweh Information Center monitored the issuance of 133 isolation and deportation orders from Al-Aqsa Mosque or the Old City of Jerusalem during the past month. Among those who received the orders were 17 minors, 15 women and one girl.
The center explained that all the deportation orders were issued at the end of last month following the events Al-Rahma Gate, except for six decisions issued earlier this month.
The center added that the deportation decisions in February included the highest religious authority and the deputy director of the Jerusalem Awqaf, and 9 other employees of the Islamic Awqaf Department, mostly guards. The police arrested and prosecuted the guards who opened Al-Rahma Gate.
Demolishing 15 structures
The occupation municipality continued its police of demolishing structures in the towns and neighborhoods of the city of Jerusalem, and forced several owners to self-demolish their homes, to avoid financial penalties and actual imprisonment.
Wadi Hilweh Information Center monitored the demolition of 15 structures in Jerusalem in February (7 of which were self-demolished by their owners). Among the structures were 11 houses, a residential room, a commercial facility, a store and a barracks used for sheep.
The geographical distribution of the demolition was as follows: 6 in Silwan, 5 in Jabal Al-Mukabber, 1 in Sur Baher, and 3 in Beit Hanina.
On February 17, 2019, the occupation authorities expelled Abu Asab family from their home in the Old City of Jerusalem for the benefit of the settlers, claiming that they had lost the right to "protected tenant" as per the occupation court. It is noteworthy that the family had been living in the house since 1952.
The information center said: "The occupation authorities are pursuing the dead the same as the living in Jerusalem. The Israeli municipality is planning a new project in the cemetery of Ma'man Allah in West Jerusalem to expand the street located on the cemetery's land and to create open areas, building and walls.
Since 1948, the occupation authorities have confiscated land and seized parts of the cemetery and carried out several projects, including "a public park, a hotel, a religious school and the center of tolerance, and buildings of the occupation's institutions, and a cafe", in addition to opening streets. It is noteworthy that the original total area was 200 Dunoms (200,000 square meters), and only 19 Dunoms are left today