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Palestinians face strict Israeli restrictions to visit Al-Aqsa for Ramadan

May 14, 2019 1:54 P.M. (Updated: May 16, 2019 11:12 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinians are facing extensive restrictions to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for the holy month of Ramadan, on Tuesday.

According to a report issued by Al-Monitor, “Men who are under 16 years old and over 40 years old are allowed to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

The report said, “Women of all ages are allowed to visit the mosque on Fridays.”

However, the report stressed that men aged between 30 and 40 require Israeli-issued entry permits to do visit the compound, and those between the ages of 16 and 29 are “ineligible to even apply.”

The report said that “ten years ago, Israel started to allow Palestinians in the West Bank to enter Jerusalem to pray at Al-Aqsa during the month of Ramadan. Eligibility is generally determined by age group and depends on Israel’s political relationship with the Palestinian Authority (PA).”

Unfortunately, “there are no official criteria for the permits, only conditions for consideration,” Al-Monitor reported.

Palestinians may apply for a permit, however, can be rejected without a given reason.

Head of Palestinian Authority's Civil Affairs Ministry, Walid Wahdan, told Al-Monitor “that Palestinians consider access to Al-Aqsa a right.”

He noted that the set of conditions for eligibility can vary, “Sometimes applicants must be married, and widowers or divorcees are excluded.” Thousands of others, meanwhile, “are denied permits for security reasons.”
In April, Israel announced that 700 permits would be granted permits for relatives living in Arab countries to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan and another 700 permits for Palestinians to travel abroad through the Ben-Gurion Airport.
Regarding expatriate permits, Wahdan said, “Last year, they said 700 permits would be issued, but only half of them were.”

Ramadan typically sees a slight ease of permit restrictions on Palestinians, particularly women, though the thousands who do get permits are still subjected to long waits and checkpoints and searches by armed Israeli forces.

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