Israel announces ‘gestures’ to Palestinians during Ramadan

June 3, 2016  

Israel on Friday announced a series of gestures to relax restrictions on the movement of Palestinian Arabs during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The measures, similar to those of previous years, were announced by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the unit which manages civilian affairs in Judea and Samaria under the auspices of newly-appointed Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.

Up to 500 people from the Gaza Strip will be allowed to attend Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque over the holy month, set to begin on Sunday or Monday, according to AFP.

In addition, 200 Gaza residents will be allowed to visit relatives in the Palestinian Authority (PA)-assigned areas of Judea and Samaria during Ramadan, and 500 Palestinians from Judea and Samaria will be authorized to visit family in Gaza, COGAT said.

Israel will also allow 300 Palestinians living abroad to visit relatives in Gaza, and 500 Judea and Samaria-based Palestinians would be permitted to travel out of the Ben Gurion airport.

There will be additional allowances for the Muslim holidays which follow the end of Ramadan, according to AFP.

The COGAT statement said the measures were “in line with the Israeli civil policy striving to improve the quality of life” for Palestinians and “maintaining freedom of religion”.

Israel has been facing a wave of Palestinian attacks since before the Rosh Hashanah holiday which were triggered in part by tensions over the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on the Temple Mount.

Due to the tension, a ban set by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu remains in place on Israeli lawmakers — both Muslim and Jewish — from visiting the site to prevent tensions from flaring.

MKs from the Arab Joint List, however, announced last week they intend to pray at the site during Ramadan, regardless of the ban, even though they continue to demand that Jews be banned from visiting the site.

MK’s Jamal Zahalka last month called to prevent Jews “at all costs” and “by any means” from visiting the Mount.

In September, Zahalka was filmed as he personally harassed police over allowing Jewish visitors to visit the Temple Mount, and a previous clip sent to Arutz Sheva showed fellow MK Ahmed Tibi actually striking a police officer on the Mount as Zahalka “ordered” police to leave the site.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)

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