March 2019…Closing Al-Aqsa for several house and banning dozens from entering it…177 cases of arrests…and demolishing 8 structures
April 4, 2019

Wadi Hilweh Information Center issued its monthly report for March 2019, in which it documented violations by the Israeli occupation authorities and settlers against the holy sites in Jerusalem and the Palestinian population and their properties in the city.

The Information center said in its monthly report that the occupation authorities escalated the violations in Al-Aqsa Mosque, the arrests and the expulsion orders from Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Old City of Jerusalem, as well as the escalation of the policy of "self-demolition" imposed by the occupation municipality on Jerusalemites.

Al-Aqsa Mosque

The Israeli occupation forces closed Al-Aqsa Mosque from the afternoon of the 12th of March until the following day, and imposed a strict siege on it following an order by the so-called “chief of police in Jerusalem”, and prevented prayers from being held as well as preventing the “Mo’azen” from entering the mosque under the pretext of setting the police station inside Al-Aqsa on fire with a Molotov cocktail and firecrackers.

The occupation forces evacuated Al-Aqsa, "mosques, squares and offices" by force, and beat and assaulted the worshipers, and executed multiple arrests in the courtyards. They also searched the offices and mosques.

After the closure of Al-Aqsa Mosque, the people of the city gathered around its gates and the roads leading to it. They performed the prayers in the streets, despite the severe beatings, arrests, persecution and repression. The occupation authorities worked hard to prevent the conversion of prayers on the gates of Al-Aqsa to an open sit-in. The occupation authorities confiscated the praying carpets of worshipers during prayers, and suppressed them with sound grenades and rubber bullets during the prayer in the neighborhood of Wadi Al-Joz. Shortly before that, the forces assaulted mourners and arrested some of them in a funeral while trying to enter Al-Aqsa through Lions Gate.

During the early hours of the closure of Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Israeli occupation authorities imposed a similar siege on the entire Old City, where all the doors were closed and the iron barricades were placed and citizens were prevented from entering or leaving the Old City.

Bab Al-Rahma Chapel

On March 17, the Israeli Magistrate's Court issued a decision extending the temporary closure of Bab Al-Rahma chapel in the Al-Aqsa Mosque during a secret session attended by the Israeli security forces. The Court granted the Council of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs 60 days to respond to the decision. The Council stressed on its historical position that "the occupation has no authority over Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Islamic Awqaf does not recognize any authority to the occupation and therefore will not respond to the decisions of the occupation."

The occupation authorities are trying to interfere in the affairs of Bab Al-Rahma chapel and provoke the guards and worshipers. They prevented the entry of carpets into it. Every person "guard or worshipper" who opened the door of the chapel in the morning was arrested and banned from entering Al-Aqsa Mosque, or was deported from the area of Bab Al-Rahma. Police also attempted to enter the chapel with their shoes and take pictures of it.

Settlers' incursions

Wadi Hilweh Information Center reported that 2068 settlers and Jewish students stormed and violated the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque’s courtyards during March. The incursions are organized by "alleged temple groups" throughout the week, except on Fridays and Saturdays during the morning and afternoon break-in sessions. They are conducted through Dung Gate which has been controlled by the occupation authorities since the occupation of the city of Jerusalem.

Arrests ... and expulsion orders

The Israeli occupation authorities continued to carry out arbitrary arrests in Jerusalem. The center monitored the arrest of 177 people in the city including 13 women, 30 minors, 3 children under the age of responsibility (12 years).

The center pointed out that the largest percentage of the arrests were carried out on the gates of Al-Aqsa Mosque, or from its squares, and the arrests were concentrated in the villages of Silwan and Esawyeh, and the Old City of Jerusalem.

The Israeli authorities issued 71 "expulsion and travel ban orders" last month: 58 expulsion orders from Al-Aqsa Mosque, 7 deportation orders from the Old City of Jerusalem, a young Jerusalemite man was deported from Jerusalem for six months for the third consecutive time. Also, one expulsion order from the West Bank and 4 travel-ban orders were issued last month.

The center added that the decisions of the expulsion from Al-Aqsa in March included the head of the Islamic Awqaf Council Sheikh Abdul Azim Salhab who is the highest religious body for 40 days, and the Deputy Director of Jerusalem Endowments Sheikh Najeh Bkeirat for 4 months, and the Minister of Jerusalem Adnan Husseini, and members of the Awqaf Council Hatem Abdul Kader and Mahdi Abdul Hadi for one week.

The center added that it monitored the arrest of 16 employees of the Islamic Waqf Department and guards at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Most of them were removed from the mosque for varying periods, and one of the guards was removed from the mosque for 6 months.

The center explained that the decisions of expulsion from Al Aqsa and Old Jerusalem ranged from 3 days to 6 months, and issued by several sources: the intelligence and the occupation police, the occupation courts, from the so-called "Jerusalem police chief."

The center added that it monitored the arrest of 16 employees of the Islamic Awqaf Department and guards at Al-Aqsa Mosque. Most of them were isolated from the mosque for varying periods, and one of the guards was isolated from the mosque for 6 months.

The center explained that the decisions of expulsion from Al-Aqsa and the Old City of Jerusalem ranged from 3 days to 6 months, and issued by several sources: intelligence service,occupation police, occupation courts, and from the so-called "Jerusalem police chief."

Demolition of 8 structures

The occupation municipality continued its "policy of demolishing structures" in Jerusalem under the pretext of building without a permit, at a time when the municipality imposes impossible conditions on the residents of the city, which extend for years to permit the building.

The municipality stepped up its policy of "self-demolition" last March, forcing the Jerusalemites to demolish their property.

The Information Center monitored the demolition of 8 structures in the city of Jerusalem last March: 4 residential houses, a residential room, an under construction residential building, and two warehouses.

The geographical distribution of the demolitions was as follows: 4 in Silwan, 1 in Jabal Al-Mukabber, 1 in Shu'fat Camp, 2 in Hizma.

The center added that 7 of the structures were demolished by their owners.

The occupation authorities closed the restaurant "Abu Ali" in Salah Al-Din Street in Jerusalem for several days, under the pretext of employing a worker holding the identity of the West Bank.

Settlers’ assaults

In late March, settlers spray-painted racist slogans and vandalized the tires of 28 vehicles in "Al-Masharaf / Al-Sammar" neighborhood of Jerusalem.

Last month settlers placed sticky material on the door of Makki Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Settlers took control of a property in Oqbat Darwish in the Old City after the property was mostly sold to them by its owners.

At the beginning of last March, serious landslides occurred in the area of e Wadi Hilweh neighborhood in Silwan, a few meters from the southern wall of Al-Aqsa Mosque, as a result of Israeli actions to dig the "tunnel network".

In March, the Israeli authorities issued a legal complaint against Maragha family demanding that they vacate their residential building in Batn Al-Hawa neighborhood of Silwan for the benefit of the settlers. The family of 15 people is living in a building of 5 apartments.

Suppression of social activities

The occupation authorities continued to prevent the events in the city of Jerusalem, where an activity on “Mother's Day" was prevented at the French Institute in Salah Al-Din Street, under the pretext of being organized by the Palestinian Authority. The forces stormed the headquarters of the center and evacuated the people from inside it.