Increasing brutality: Report sheds light on Israeli violations in occupied Jerusalem

al aqsa
(File photo: Jordan News)
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — A report has been issued by Palestinian authorities at the Jerusalem Governorate on Israeli crimes and violations toward Palestinians during the first half of 2023.

The report, released by the governorate’s public relations unit, clarified that the attacks by Israeli forces and settlers continue under the right-wing occupation government that implements an extremist fascist program. 

The report states that the occupying government’s actions are aimed at annexation, displacement, Judaization, land confiscation, deepening settlement and racial segregation, military aggression, and targeting holy sites (with emphasis on the changes in the status quo of Al-Aqsa Mosque). 

This is reflected in all aspects of the Palestinian citizens' lives through the escalation of crimes committed against them to undermine their will and presence, especially in the occupied capital.

Here is what the report said.

Victims of the occupation
During the first half of 2023, nine people, including two children, were killed in occupied Jerusalem. Israeli forces executed a father of eight children, Samir Aslan (41 years old), the child Muhammad Ali (17 years old), Youssef Mohsen (22 years old), the child Wadih Aziz Abu Ramoz (16 years old), Khairi Alqam (21 years old), a father of three children Hussein Qaraqe (32 years old), Muhammad Al-Asibi (26 years old), Hatem Abu Najma (39 years old), and Isaaq Al-Ajlouni (18 years old).

During the first half of the year, the Israeli authorities handed over the bodies of six men: Hatem Abu Najma, Wadih Abu Ramoz, Muhammad Abu Jumaa, Ashraf Halsah, Muhammad Ali, and Muhammad Abu Kafia. 

However, the bodies of three men: Isaaq Al-Ajlouni, Khairy Alqam, and Hussein Qaraqe, are still being held by the Israeli occupation.

Israel still holds 23 bodies from Jerusalem in their refrigerators, often called “cemeteries of numbers”. 

The governor of Jerusalem, Adnan Ghaith, has been under open house arrest since August 4, 2022, without any foreseeable end. During the first half of the year, occupation authorities intensified their raids on the residence of Governor Ghaith in Silwan, south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. 

On the evening of May 30, the occupation authorities renewed the decision to prevent Ghaith from entering the West Bank territories. The decision was issued after Mossad summoned the governor to investigate the detention center known as “Al-Moskobiya” in occupied Jerusalem.

In January, Israeli occupation forces also renewed a military decision to prevent the secretary-general of the Fatah movement in Jerusalem, Shadi Mtour, from entering the cities of the West Bank, under the pretext of "participating in activities related to the national authority." 

Mtour is subjected to a series of restrictions against him and his family, including the withdrawal of his wife's “family unification” residency and the cancellation of his national insurance.

During the first half of the year, Israel continued targeting religious figures in Jerusalem. They summoned the Sheikh of Al-Aqsa Mosque, Ekrima Sa'id Sabri, for investigation and released him under conditions, as well as requiring him to attend any investigation he is summoned for and prohibition of his communication with some media channels.

In May, activists from the Israeli lobby attacked the Jerusalem lawyer Salah Hammouri, who was exiled to France while attending conferences on the Nakba in Toulouse and Paris.

Occupation forces renewed the decision to prevent Nasser Al-Hadmi, the head of the Jerusalem Committee against Judaization, from traveling and the decision of house arrest. 

On February 8, 2023, Israeli forces decided to ban Sheikh Najeh Bakirat, the deputy director general of the Jerusalem Waqf, from entering Al-Aqsa Mosque for six months.

Furthermore, in January 2023, the Israeli forces issued a decision to restrict the work and activities of the released prisoner Nasser Abu Khdeir from the town of Shuafat, in addition to preventing him from communicating with several individuals.

Crimes committed by settlers
This year also saw a concerning number of attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinians. These attacks include intentional killings and targeting of children through shootings and vehicular manslaughter. Additionally, there are acts of incitement, invasions, and brutal assaults on citizens. 

By these metrics, the Jerusalem Governorate recorded approximately 128 settler attacks during the first half of the current year, including 29 physical assaults.

In May, the so-called “Israeli Flag March” invaded the Damascus Gate area in occupied Jerusalem. During the first half of the year, there were ongoing attacks on Islamic and Christian holy sites. Incitement calls were spread by settler groups demanding the desecration of Al-Aqsa Mosque and opening a synagogue within it. 

Financial rewards were offered to those who entered the mosque and slaughtered animals during the Hebrew Passover holiday.

During the “Flag March”, settlers attacked journalists with stones while covering the march in occupied Jerusalem. This resulted in the injury of journalist Yahya Abu Zneid. Jewish extremists also threw empty bottles at press crews near Damascus Gate in occupied Jerusalem.

The occupation forces prevented journalists holding Palestinian press cards and international press cards issued by the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate in Jerusalem from being present in the vicinity of Damascus Gate to cover the ongoing Judaization and settlers' march.

Recorded injuries
The Jerusalem Governorate documented injuries resulting from the excessive use of force by Israel against the people of Jerusalem throughout the occupied capital. 

Approximately 385 injuries were recorded due to live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets, and brutal beatings. There were also hundreds of cases of gas inhalation at various flashpoints in the occupied capital, which witnesses almost daily confrontations.

The report noted that settler attacks increased in intensity compared to previous years. Approximately 137 attacks, including 88 physical assaults, were recorded during the first half of 2021, while 261 attacks, including 67 physical assaults, were recorded during the first half of 2022.

Storming Al-Aqsa
Settler incursions escalated during the first half of 2023, with 26,276 settlers entering the courtyards of Al-Aqsa Mosque during the imposed "morning and evening visits" policy and under strict protection by the Israeli police. During these visits, they often performed Talmudic rituals. 

Israeli police repeatedly stormed the mosque during the first half of the year. 

With the beginning of the month of Ramadan, which started on March 23, Al-Aqsa Mosque witnessed tight security measures and a heavy presence of occupation soldiers at its entrances. 

The police used force to evacuate worshippers, and anyone resisting their brutality and crimes were subjected to arrest, followed by unjust expulsion decisions from the Mosque and the Old City.

On April 22, they cut the Bab Al-Rahma Prayer Area in Al-Aqsa Mosque off the electric grid. At the end of June, the occupation police requested an extension of the closure of the Bab al-Rahma Prayer Area, claiming it served as a strategic point for worshippers and insurgents. 

On May 21, the occupation government held its weekly meeting in the tunnels beneath Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Western Wall, approving Judaization projects in occupied Jerusalem. 

Additionally, the Israeli government allocated four million shekels to encourage incursions into the Western Wall and Al-Aqsa Mosque to support the promotion of "Jerusalem as the capital of Israel", as Israelis put it.

The first half of this year witnessed the falling of a stone on February 6 from the exterior surface of the Dome of the Rock's prayer hall. The stone, measuring approximately 20x20cm, was added to the interior of the Dome of the Rock after the recent Egyptian restoration. 

This incident occurred concurrently with Israel’s prevention of restoration work.

During the winter season, water leakage was observed in the prayer halls of Al-Aqsa. On February 8, rainwater seeped into the Marwani Prayer Hall through holes in its ceiling due to Israel’s prohibition of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf Department from carrying out restoration work. 

It is worth mentioning that Israel has been prohibiting restoration operations in Al-Aqsa Mosque while continuing its excavations in the Al-Buraq Square and establishing tunnels beneath the mosque.

As a point of comparison, in the first half of 2021, 14,000 settlers stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque, while 33,351 settlers invaded during the first half of 2022. 

Crimes against Christians in Jerusalem
The attacks by settlers on Christian holy sites in occupied Jerusalem continue without any serious intervention from Israeli authorities. 

On January 1, the historic Protestant cemetery on Mount Zion in occupied Jerusalem was desecrated by settlers, who vandalized over thirty graves, broke several crosses, and damaged Christian tombstones. On January 4, the Anglican Church in Jerusalem was attacked in a similar manner.

On January 12, the Armenian Patriarchate in occupied Jerusalem was targeted in a racist attack by extremist settlers who wrote slogans inciting revenge and death to Arabs, Armenians, and Christians on its walls.

On February 2, a settler stormed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City and attempted to set it on fire while also using a hammer to destroy a statue of Christ inside the church. Israeli occupation forces claimed that the perpetrator was a mentally disturbed foreign tourist.

On March 19, two settlers attempted to attack the Church of the Tomb of the Virgin Mary. They tried to vandalize its contents and assault worshipers.

Additionally, on April 15, Israeli forces imposed strict restrictions on the access of Christian citizens to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in occupied Jerusalem to celebrate Holy Saturday. They closed several entrances to the Old City that led to the church and set up the military. 

Occupation forces also required special permits for prayer in the Church, aiming to control the number of allowed entries. During the celebrations, Israeli forces subjected a large number of Holy Saturday celebrants to brutal and savage attacks. اضافة اعلان


Cases of arrests
A total of 1,800 arrest cases were documented in various areas of Jerusalem, including more than 208 children and approximately 56 women. The highest number of arrests, 774 cases, was recorded in April.

In the first half of 2021, there were 1,868 arrest cases, including 85 women and 394 minors. In the first half of 2022, 2,176 arrest cases were recorded among the people of Jerusalem, including 93 women, 12 children below the age of criminal responsibility, and 378 minors.

Prison sentences
The report documented that the Israeli courts issued 192 actual prison sentences against Jerusalemite prisoners, including 76 administrative detention orders (i.e., without clear charges). The highest number of such corrections was recorded in March and May. They have also imposed extremely high fines that further aggravate the suffering of their families. 

During the first half of 2021, 64 prison sentences were recorded, including 25 administrative detention orders. In the first half of 2022, 133 prison sentences were recorded, including 36 administrative detention orders.

Some detainees have had their detention extended for months or even years without clear charges being brought against them.

Evictions and demolitions
In the first half of 2021, 101 house arrest orders were recorded. In the first half of 2022, 109 house arrest orders were recorded. Occupation authorities issued 194 house arrest orders during the first half of this year. 

The duration of these orders varied from a few days to an open-ended house arrest with no termination date.

During the first half of 2021, 365 deportation orders were recorded. 

In the first half of 2022, 711 deportation orders were recorded, nearly half of them related to banning access to Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Approximately 631 deportation orders were issued this year, including 519 orders to ban individuals from accessing Al-Aqsa Mosque. The highest number was recorded in April, with 461 orders to ban access to Al-Aqsa Mosque. Israel took these measures in an attempt to impose their control over Al-Aqsa Mosque during the month of Ramadan and to empty it of its worshipers.

Regarding travel bans, approximately 19 travel ban orders were issued by Israel during the first half of this year alone. The duration of these orders ranged from one month to six months.

Demolition, excavation, and seizure of properties
During the first half of 2023, the number of demolition operations in Jerusalem reached 181, along with 19 excavations. These included 40 cases of self-demolition under coercion.

During the first half of 2021, 96 demolition operations were recorded, and in the first half of 2022, 117 demolition operations and 16 excavations were recorded.

Israeli forces have carried out 141 demolitions, including houses in the neighborhoods and towns of Silwan, Jabel Mukaber, Sur Baher, Beit Hanina, Shuafat Camp, and Wadi Al-Joz, in addition to commercial structures, walls, retaining walls, residential and agricultural barracks that provided shelter for residents from winter cold and summer heat, as well as water tanks and horse stables.

Israeli forces seized numerous olive and lemon trees. They cut water pipes in the eastern area of Al-Issawiya village, in addition to seizing agricultural rooms, residential belongings, large quantities of barbed wire, water tanks, and water pumps in the As-Sawahira area.

The occupation authorities delivered more than 135 demolition notices to various commercial establishments and houses.

They seized vast areas of land owned by Jerusalem residents for the benefit of settlement projects that primarily aimed to empty the Jerusalem governorate of its original inhabitants and replace them with settlers in a policy that sought to alter the demographic character of the area.

Crimes against Prisoners
Israeli Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben Gvir, has issued a series of retaliatory measures to deprive prisoners of their basic rights. 

These measures include enacting laws to execute Palestinian prisoners convicted of killings involving Jews and to revoke citizenship or residency and deport Palestinian prisoners, or those released from prison, who reside in Jerusalem and the 1948 territories if it is proven that they received any funds from the Palestinian Authority. Additionally, arbitrary transfers of prisoners have been carried out.

During the recent period, Israel launched a campaign against prisoners and their families, imposing financial penalties and confiscating private property from 243 Palestinian prisoners, including about 168 prisoners from occupied Jerusalem, under the pretext of receiving funds from the Palestinian Authority.

Violations against institutions and holy sites in Jerusalem
On March 20, Ben Gvir decided to close the office of a company that provides media and production services to the official Palestinian media. 

During the first half of this year, the occupation forces stormed several Jerusalemite institutions, including hospitals, schools, and educational institutions. There were repeated incursions during January and March into the premises of the Al-Makassed Islamic Charitable Society Hospital. Furthermore, the Islamic Research and Heritage Revival Center was directly targeted with gas bombs. Israeli also invaded the Al-Laqlouq Tower Center. 

At the end of March, the occupation forces fired sound and toxic gas bombs at citizens in and around the Faisal Al-Husseini International Stadium during the final match of the Yasser Arafat Martyr Cup football tournament. This was justified by claims of stone-throwing, causing dozens of suffocation injuries.

The occupation municipality continues to delay the restoration of a dilapidated wall in the courtyard of the Silwan School in occupied Jerusalem, resulting in the transfer of 250 students. The occupation-affiliated Ministry of Education has suspended financial funding for the Ibrahimia School in occupied Jerusalem since the beginning of this year.

In March, the occupation authorities raided the Arab Orphan School in the town of Beit Hanina under the pretext of conducting a student census, but they examined the curriculum being taught. In the same context, the occupation forces repeatedly fired gas bombs at students at Al-Quds University in Abu Dis. 

Israel also hindered students' access to their schools by imposing stricter measures at the Shuafat military checkpoint in Jerusalem more than once. They also prevented student buses from passing through the same checkpoint.

Israeli occupation forces stormed a diwan in the town of Al-Eizariya to disperse a meeting of the Parents' Union in Jerusalem schools at the beginning of January. They claimed that the Palestinian Authority funded it. Additionally, there has been ongoing repression of the weekly peaceful demonstrations in Sheikh Jarrah, demanding an end to the policies of racist displacement. 

Medical teams affiliated with the Ministry of Health were arrested in May. They were vaccinating school students in occupied Jerusalem. Among those arrested were Sabreen Ayad, Ferial Zuid, Mahmoud Saad, and Mohammed Dawood.

The occupation forces also attacked the ambulance and paramedics who were transporting Mohammed Ali to the hospital before his death.

Settlement projects
Israeli sought to impose a new reality on the occupied city of Jerusalem by implementing settlement projects.

During the first half of this year, the Israeli government approved 23 settlement projects, many of which would occupy Palestinian lands and further restrict the movements and freedoms of Palestinians.

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