First half of 2020…violations and escalation in the city of Jerusalem amid the corona virus crisis
July 5, 2020

The first half of the year 2020 was marked by the worldwide invasion of corona virus, especially the Palestinian territories, and overshadowed the city of Jerusalem and its people resulting in the closure of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the closure of markets and the disruption of commercial interests, schools and universities, but this did not prevent the occupation authorities from carrying out their attacks against Jerusalemites.

During the first half of the current year, the city of Jerusalem witnessed violations in Al-Aqsa Mosque, hundreds of cases of arrests against young men, women and children, and expulsions from Al-Aqsa for various periods, in addition to an escalation in the policy of demolishing residential and commercial facilities, under the pretext of building without a permit.

Palestinian martyrs in Jerusalem

The occupation authorities continued the killing of Palestinians on the pretext of "attempts to carry out stabbings / shootings, or possession of a knife" in the city of Jerusalem. Three men were martyred in Jerusalem after being directly shot. 

On 6/2/2020, the Palestinian Shadi Al-Banna, 45, from the city of Haifa, was martyred during a shooting operation near Lions Gate, and the Israeli authorities handed over his body several days after he was killed.

On 22/2/2020, Maher Za'atra, 33, was killed by the Israeli occupation forces in area of Lions Gate, on the pretext of trying to carry out a stabbing attack.

On 30/5/2020, Iyad Khairy Al-Hallaq, 32, an autistic patient, was martyred by the Israeli occupation forces, while he was heading to his school “Al-Bakriya / Al-Wien for Special Education”, in the Old City of Jerusalem. The martyr was killed several meters away from his school despite running and hiding. His teacher was accompanying him and screamed several times at the soldiers that he was "handicapped" but they continued to shoot at him.

The center stated that the occupation authorities continue to detain the bodies of four Jerusalem martyrs in their refrigerators, they are: Martyr Mesbah Abu Sbeih (since October 2016), Martyr Fadi Al-Qunbar (since January 2017), Aziz Aweisat (since May 2018), and Martyr Maher Za’atra (since February 2020).

Al-Aqsa Mosque

Violations in the Al-Aqsa Mosque continued in attempts to impose control over it, through the permanent police presence on the gates of Al-Aqsa and its courtyards, establishing iron barriers at the gates, detaining the identities of worshipers, and subjecting them to inspection in many cases before entering Al-Aqsa, in addition to carrying out arrests from the courtyards, and allowing settlers to carry out daily incursions into Al-Aqsa - except for Fridays and Saturdays - through Dung Gate, which has been controlled by the occupation authorities since the occupation of Jerusalem.

Wadi Hilweh Information Center monitored the most prominent violations in Al-Aqsa

In January, Al-Aqsa Mosque was stormed 6 times by officers, intelligence services, special forces, police and border control officers, during which they attacked worshipers, and executed arrests from its courtyards.

The incursions were concentrated at dawn of every Friday, during the second half of January, where the worshipers were beaten, and assaulted with rubber bullets, evacuated from the squares by force, and pursued to Hutta Gate while exiting and assaulting them. They were also issued fine, and prevented from giving out hot drinks and light food, and every person who volunteers and distributes them was fined. The municipality crews confiscated food and drinks.

In February, the occupation authorities continued to restrict the entry of arrivals to Al-Aqsa for the dawn prayer, by imposing restrictions on the entry of worshipers to Al-Aqsa, and preventing the entry of worshipers, women or young men, without reason, and by holding identities at the gates and inspecting bags. 

The occupation authorities tried to interfere in the affairs of Al-Aqsa Mosque and impose their sovereignty, under the pretext of preventing the spread of corona virus. In mid-March, the occupation authorities closed the gates of Al-Aqsa except for “Hutta, Al-Majles and Al-Silsileh” gates, while keeping Dung Gate opened as they control its keys since the occupation of Jerusalem. Settlers were allowed to storm Al-Aqsa through Dung Gate, and the Islamic Endowments Department conducted contacts with the Jordanian Ministry of Endowments and the Jordanian embassy, ​​until Al-Aqsa gates were completely opened for worshipers after nearly an hour of closing it.

On March 20th, the occupation authorities closed the gates of Al-Aqsa and prevented entry to it and into the Old City of Jerusalem, an hour before the Friday prayer, under the pretext of preventing the spread of the Corona virus. According to the estimates of the Endowments Department, only 500 worshipers managed to perform the Friday Prayer in Al-Aqsa, and suppressed the worshippers that managed to hold prayers in the streets with sound grenades, pushing and beating. 

On the next day, the occupation forces stormed the house of the President of the Islamic Endowments Council and issued him a fine of 5 thousand shekels, on the pretext of "not abiding by the police decisions in regards to the number of worshippers allowed to enter Al-Aqsa Mosque". 

On the first day of Eid Al-Fiter (24-5-2020), the occupation authorities suppressed the worshipers in the area of Lions Gate and at the gates of Al-Aqsa Mosque that were closed due to the Corona virus. After the Eid prayer, the forces pursued the worshipers and evacuated the area by force and beat them and arrested two of them.

On the last days of May, at dawn, Al-Aqsa Mosque was reopened to worshipers, after suspending their entry for 69 days as a measure to prevent the spread corona virus, while dozens of settlers stormed the mosque through Dung Gate. 

At the end of June, the occupation forces stormed Bab Al-Rahma chapel in Al-Aqsa Mosque, and a guard and 5 women.

Bab Al-Rahma chapel

The occupation authorities continue efforts to impose control on Bab Al-Rahma chapel, as the Endowment and Islamic Affairs Council announced earlier this year that the occupation authorities filed a lawsuit calling for an order to be issued to renew the closure Bab Al-Rahma chapel. On grounds, the occupation forces stormed the chapel dozens of times, where soldiers intentionally storm it with their shoes around the clock, photographing it from the inside, photographing those in it, and carrying out arrests from it.

The most prominent storming took place on February 21, 2020, the first anniversary of the re-opening of Bab Al-Rahma chapel after closing it for 16 years, when officers and soldiers stormed Al-Aqsa after the Friday Noon prayers and carried out arrests from its courtyards and gates. They stormed Bab Al-Rahma chapel and confiscated banners placed at its doors, and damaged balloons placed in its courtyards, and also seized one banner from the roof. 

The forces also stormed the vicinity of Bab Al-Rahma chapel and the road leading to it at the beginning of the year, and assaulted worshippers and arrested some of them. 

Expulsion orders

The occupation authorities escalated the policy of expelling and deporting Palestinians from Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Old City of Jerusalem and the city of Jerusalem, for varying periods ranging from one week to 6 months. 

The end of May and June witnessed the highest rate of arrests coinciding with the reopening of Al-Aqsa after its closure in light of the Corona virus.

The Center stated that most of the deportation decisions were handed over to the Palestinians for a week and then renewed for months by a decision from the "commander of the occupation police in Jerusalem."

The Information Center monitored 236 expulsion and deportation decisions, including 206 expulsion decisions from Al-Aqsa Mosque, 24 deportation decisions from the Old City, and 6 deportation decisions from Jerusalem. Among the deportees were the head of the Supreme Islamic Authority Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, who was expelled earlier this year and then renewed last month, and the deputy director of the Endowments of Al-Quds Sheikh Najeh Bkeirat.

The occupation authorities also prevented the Jerusalem Governor Adnan Ghaith from entering the West Bank.

Injuries due to being shot by occupation forces

In mid-February, the8 –year old boy Malik Wael Issa, from the village of Issawiya lost his left eye, after he was hit with a rubber bullet during his return to his home after the end of his school day, accompanied by his sisters. He also suffered fractures in the skull, bleeding in the brain, fluid flowing around the tissue, and remained in the hospital in a serious condition for several weeks.

On 22/2/2020, Mrs. Anisa Abu Al-Hawa, 43, was wounded by a bullet in the thigh, as she came out of Lions Gate while the soldiers present there chased a young man who they claimed was carrying a knife, and he was shot.

At the beginning of March, the 15-year old student, Mohammad Awni Attia was wounded with a rubber bullet in the hand while he was in the yard of his school, "Boys Secondary School", in Issawiya, during the break between classes. 

Wadi Hilweh Information Center monitored the injury of many Palestinians during the storming of their homes and arresting them, including those who sustained fractures or bruises.

Injuries and violations by settlers.

The settlers' attacks on Jerusalemites and their properties in Jerusalem continued during the first half of this year.

On 24/1/2020, Al-Badrin Mosque in the village of Sharafat, southwest of the city of Jerusalem, was set on fire and caused damage to the pulpit and carpets, Qurans and books for the Prophet’s Sunnah and the microphone of the mosque, and the settlers wrote “You destroyed for the Jews, we will destroy the enemies” on one of its walls.

In early April, settlers attacked 4 young men in West Jerusalem with sharp tools, beatings, and poisonous pepper gas, and one of the youths was wounded in the head.

On 7/5/2020, a 23-year-old young man, Muntaser Ahmad Issa, was abused while he was working on an “Egged” bus, the route of Pisgat Zeev settlement, north of Jerusalem, when a settler hit him and let his dog attack him after removing the muzzle from its face and its leach. Issa was injured and scratched, and wounds were sutured in his mouth and tongue.

On 18/5/2020, Mohammad Fadi Al-Natsheh, 17 years old, was wounded in the neck, as a result of being stabbed by a settler while walking in Jaffa Street in West Jerusalem.

More than a thousand arrests…

The occupation authorities escalated the daily arrests in the city of Jerusalem, and Wadi Hilweh Information Center monitored 1057 arrests in Jerusalem, including 57 women including two minors, 202 minors, 5 children / less than the generation of responsibility (under 12 years old).

The arrests were particularly concentrated in Issawiya, followed by the Old City and Silwan, in addition to arrests from Al-Aqsa squares and from its gates and separate arrests from the towns and neighborhoods of Jerusalem.

Among the detainees was the head of the Supreme Islamic Authority Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, who was arrested and summoned several times, and the mayor of Jerusalem was also arrested and summoned several times. The Jerusalem Minister Fadi Al-Hidmi was also arrested, and the occupation authorities carried out campaigns that targeted activists and leaders of the Fatah movement in the city of Jerusalem during the months of March and May.

Wadi Hilweh Information Center explained that the policy of punishment and attacks continued in the village of Issawiya, where daily arrests and releases are conditional on "house confinement, deportation from the village for several days, or imposing night house confinement for several months", as well as deploying in the streets of the village, establishing checkpoints at its entrances, and raiding homes and shops, and issuing violations and fines as well as demolition and building prevention decisions.

Jerusalem in light of the Corona pandemic

Since the beginning of the spread of the Corona pandemic, the occupation authorities have pursued the preventive youth initiatives against the Corona virus on the pretext of "violating Israeli sovereignty over the city of Jerusalem", prevented sterilization of public facilities, confiscated sterilization tools, carried out arrests, also confiscated food parcels, and prevented hanging educational posters on the virus, and also prevented corona tests in a hall in Silwan that was under the supervision of the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

Fines were imposed on dozens of young men who participated in the Sabbath of Light event on the morning of Easter, on the pretext of violating the social distancing instructions, in addition to fines against dozens of Jerusalemites for not wearing the mask, or on the pretext of praying at the gates of Al-Aqsa without taking preventive measures.

In the same context, the governor of Jerusalem, Adnan Ghaith and the Minister of Jerusalem, Fadi Al-Hidmi, were arrested on the pretext of "working to combat the Corona virus and assisting Jerusalemites in combating the epidemic," contrary to the laws of "annexation of Jerusalem", as it considers it an attack on Israeli sovereignty over the city.

Confiscation of money and property from the prisoners and their families

The occupation authorities continue to pursue Jerusalemite prisoners and their families, by imposing various penalties on them, and confiscating money and property from them.

At the beginning of last February, the occupation authorities confiscated money and Jewelry from the families of 9 Jerusalem prisoners, including "freed prisoners, and some of whom are still in captivity," on the pretext that they received money from "hostile entities", in reference to their salaries they receive from the Palestinian Authority. This was a practical application of the decision of the Israeli army minister, Naftali Bennett, to cut the salaries of 9 Jerusalem prisoners, on the pretext of "receiving monthly salaries from the Palestinian Authority, which encourages them to terrorism and to carry out attacks."

In June, the occupation authorities confiscated a sum of money from the freed prisoner Majid Jo’beh after storming his house for the same argument.

As for the beginning of June and late June, decisions were made to deport the freed prisoner Annan Najib from Jerusalem for 6 months on the pretext of "activities that threaten the security of the area", and to expel the wife of freed prisoner Ahmed Abu Ghazala from the city, under the pretext of “illegal presence in the city because she holds the identity of the West Bank”. The freed prisoner, Waheed Shabaneh, was deported from the city of Jerusalem, on the pretext that "his presence in the city is illegal because he holds the identity of the West Bank."

Dozens of demolition operations and orders...

The occupation municipality continued the policy of demolishing homes and commercial and agricultural facilities in the city of Jerusalem, on the pretext of building without a permit, at a time when the municipality imposes impossible conditions and huge amounts of licensing procedures that extend for many years.

The occupation municipality also forced the Jerusalemites to implement the orders and decisions of demolition themselves, "self-demolition", after threatening to impose heavy fines, in addition to forcing them to pay the demolition fare to the municipal staff and municipal forces and the accompanying occupation forces.

The Information Center has monitored the demolition of 61 establishments in the city of Jerusalem during the first half of this year, of which 38 were demolished by their owners, some of which are inhabited and some are under construction, including two residential buildings, 40 houses, 7 commercial establishments, in addition to demolishing residential rooms and residential barracks and other livestock, fences and building foundations.

Demolition were concentrated in Silwan, followed by Jabal Al-Mukabber

The Information Center explained that the demolitions stopped during the Corona emergency period with the exception of one commercial facility that was self-demolished by their owners. After the end of the emergency period and the return of the work of institutions and departments, the occupation municipality escalated the demolition policy, especially the "self-demolition policy" by forcing Jerusalemites to demolish their facilities and establishments themselves.

Suppression of events and freedoms

The occupation authorities continued to suppress and prevent activities and events in the city of Jerusalem, on the pretext of "being organized or sponsored by the Palestinian Authority or its illegality."

The occupation intelligence prevented the holding of a popular festival against the deal of the century, in Shu’fat refugee camp, as well as a sit-in to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the death of Faisal Al-Husseini at the closed Orient House building in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem, by storming the venue of the event and carrying out arrests and handing out summons to the participants.

During the first half of this year, the occupation authorities suppressed a demonstration against the killing of Palestinian martyrs in the city of Jerusalem, and assaulted the participants, most of whom were girls, with beatings and arrests, and they suppressed a solidarity stand with the head of the Supreme Islamic Authority Sheikh Ekrima Sabri and assaulted the participants with beatings and arrest.

By decision of the Minister of "Security" in the occupation government, the intelligence individuals and forces closed the "Hope Volunteer Association” in Jerusalem for a period of 6 months, under the pretext that they implemented activities for the Palestinian Authority in Jerusalem, knowing that the association provides various services to young people, children, women, marginalized families and people with special needs.

The Minister of Internal Security also renewed the decision to close the Palestine TV office and ban its activities everywhere in Jerusalem and Israel, for an additional 6 months, and he had issued the first decision in November 2019.