During the recent Ramadan month, 980,000 Palestinians entered and prayed at Jerusalem and Temple Mount. This reflects an increase of two times the average of incoming persons in previous years, due to significant leniencies in inspection and criteria exercised by Israel regarding persons entering Jerusalem.
Date: 20.08.12 Author: Meanachem Adoni
IDF and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, through the Central Command and the Civil Administration at Judea and Samaria, approved the removal of several internal passages and blocks, including: the block at the central entrance to Jericho and two additional blocks in northern Samaria. The block located at the southern entrance to Ramallah was opened during the holiday for 24 hours a day and allowed for more convenient access into the city.
Also, Israel approved, as part of gestures for the holiday, the departure of men and women over the age of 40 (married with children) for prayers in Jerusalem without requirement of special permit. A designated permit for prayers at Temple Mount was issued for men and women between the ages of 35 and 40. Also, permit was given to 5,000 prayers a day to depart on weekdays to prayers at Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and permit was given for family visits in Israel during the holiday and for a month.
“The Civil Administration exerted efforts in improving the infrastructural conditions at the passages to Jerusalem and also granted all humanitarian and civil assistance as required”, noted and explained Lt. Col. Iyad Sarahan, head of the Bethlehem District Coordination and Liaison. “Also, giant fans were placed at the passages that squirted cold water for the benefit of the Palestinians passing through during the heavy heat, as well as wheelchairs for the elderly and needy population”.
Due to the sensitivity around the Ramadan fast, the forces, primarily the forces operating in the passages, were briefed in advance to be oversensitive upon conversing with the civil population and inspecting. In every passage, a designated corner was defined for smoking, eating and drinking, faraway from the eyes of those fasting.
“We acted, to the extent possible, in order to assist with passage of Palestinian prayers on Fridays and during the entire Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr period”, noted Lt. Col. Sarahan. “Israel acted and will act in the future in order to preserve freedom of movement and access to holy places to all religions and to preserve freedom of religion for all.”