Scuffles at West Bank Bedouin village slated for demolition

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Palestinian protesters chant slogans and confront Israeli forces on September 14, 2018, as they demonstrate against the blocking of the road leading to the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan Al-Ahmar in the occupied West Bank. (AFP)
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Palestinians and foreign activists are trying to open the road closed by the Israeli army near his village of Khan Al-Ahmar, in the occupied West Bank on September 14, 2018. (AFP)
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A Palestinian protester confronts Israeli forces on September 14, 2018, as he demonstrates against the blocking of the road leading to the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan Al-Ahmar in the occupied West Bank. (AFP)
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Israeli forces are confronted by Palestinian protesters on September 14, 2018, as they demonstrate against the blocking of the road leading to the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan Al-Ahmar in the occupied West Bank. (AFP)
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Israeli border police arrest protesters and activists blocking Israeli army bulldozer operating at the West Bank Bedouin community of Khan Al-Ahmar, Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (AP)
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Israeli forces are confronted by a Palestinian protester on September 14, 2018, as he demonstrates against the blocking of the road leading to the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan Al-Ahmar in the occupied West Bank. (AFP)
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A Palestinian protester confronts Israeli forces on September 14, 2018, as he demonstrates against the blocking of the road leading to the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan Al-Ahmar in the occupied West Bank. (AFP)
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A Palestinian protester confronts Israeli forces on September 14, 2018, as he demonstrates against the blocking of the road leading to the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan Al-Ahmar in the occupied West Bank. (AFP)
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Israeli forces are confronted by a Palestinian protester on September 14, 2018, as he demonstrates against the blocking of the road leading to the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan Al-Ahmar in the occupied West Bank. (AFP)
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Protesters and activists block an Israeli army bulldozer at the West Bank Bedouin community of Khan Al-Ahmar, Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (AP)
Updated 14 September 2018
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Scuffles at West Bank Bedouin village slated for demolition

KHAN AL-AHMAR, Palestinian Territories: Scuffles broke out between Israeli forces and dozens of pro-Palestinian activists Friday at a village slated for demolition in the occupied West Bank.
An Israeli bulldozer sought to close off a route to the Bedouin village of Khan Al-Ahmar by dumping rocks and earth on it, sparking a protest that led to small clashes.
Three people were arrested, a police spokesman said.
Activists said among them was a French law professor, Frank Romano, but the police did not confirm his arrest.
The village of roughly 200 people is at risk of being demolished at any time, despite fierce criticism from key European nations.
On September 5, Israel’s supreme court upheld an order to raze the village on grounds that it was built without the proper permits.
It is extremely rare for Palestinians to be given Israeli permits to build in Area C of the West Bank, where Khan Al-Ahmar is situated.
The village is located in a strategic spot near Israeli settlements and along a road leading to the Dead Sea.
There have been warnings that continued settlement construction in the area could eventually divide the West Bank in two and cut it off from Jerusalem, dealing a death blow to any remaining hopes of a two-state solution.


Muslims pray in banned area of Al-Aqsa for first time since 2003

The worshippers forced their way into the area ahead of Friday prayer. (Reuters)
Updated 23 February 2019
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Muslims pray in banned area of Al-Aqsa for first time since 2003

  • The worshippers chanted religious and national slogans and mounted the flag of Palestine to show their delight at the reopening of the area

AMMAN: For the first time since 2003, Muslim worshippers broke an Israeli ban and offered Friday prayers in the Bab Al-Rahmeh prayer hall, which is part of the Haram Al-Sharif/Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Hundreds of Palestinian worshippers entered the Bab Al-Rahmeh area inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City on Friday for the first time since the area was closed to Muslim worship by Israeli authorities.

The worshippers, led by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Mohammad Hussein and other religious leaders, forced their way into the area ahead of the weekly Friday prayer, defying the Israeli ban.

The worshippers chanted religious and national slogans and mounted the flag of Palestine to show their delight at the reopening of the area, which has only been open during the past 16 years to Jewish fanatics during provocative visits to the Muslim holy place, the third holiest site in Islam, according to the official Palestinian news agency, Wafa.

Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, the former mufti and now a member of the newly constituted Islamic Waqf Council in Jerusalem, delivered a short sermon in which he reiterated that “the Haram Al-Sharif is all 144 dunums of land, including the mosques, prayer halls, courtyard musuems and schools within it.” Sabri said that Muslims will not allow anyone to diminish Muslim rights in the entire mosque area.

The Friday prayer at Bab Al-Rahmeh went off peacefully in part because of an Israeli decision late on Thursday not to make any further escalations, a reliable source in Jerusalem told Arab News.

Khaleel Assali, a member of the new council who participated in the prayer at Bab Al-Rahmeh, told Arab News that the mood was peaceful and upbeat. “It was a beautiful thing to be able to reclaim part of our religious site that we were barred from using for so many years.”

The deputy head of the PLO’s Fatah movement, Mahmoud Alloul, praised the unprecedented action by the popular movement in Jerusalem. 

In a statement published on the Wafa website, Alloul called on Palestinians to stay steadfast in the courtyards of Al-Aqsa and Bab Al-Rahmeh and to “continue to stand up to the occupiers and their repeated incursions in Al-Aqsa courtyards.”

Mohammad Ishtieh, a senior Fatah leader who is expected to be the next Palestinian prime minister, issued a statement saying that what happened in Jerusalem today proves beyond a shadow of doubt that all actions and decisions aimed at Judaization of Jerusalem have failed as a result of the steadfastness of our people in our eternal capital. Ishtieh praised the defenders of Jerusalem who screamed for justice and who again forced the Israeli occupiers to back down.

Mahdi Abdul Hadi, director of the Jerusalem-based Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs (PASSIA) and a new member of the Jordanian-appointed Waqf Council, told Arab News that all parties participated and share this success. “Everyone participated and every party should get credit for this success. Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa unite us.”

The popular protests that led to the breakup of the 16-year-old Israeli ban began on Feb. 13 when the newly constituted empowered and expanded 18-member Waqf Council decided to hold a symbolic prayer at the barred Bab Al-Rahmeh site. The Israelis responded by placing heavy chains at the gate and making arrests. 

After four days of arrests, Israel allowed the removal of the chains but would not go as far as allowing Muslim worshippers to enter. On Wednesday the Waqf Council called on worshippers to pray at the Bab Al-Rahmeh site. All five daily prayers were held outside the barred prayer hall. A confrontation was expected Friday, but the insistence of the worshippers on reclaiming their site led to the Israelis backing down, Jerusalem sources told Arab News.