Thousands try to pray in Al Aqsa Mosque: Israeli forces open fire
13 Oct 2006
Israeli forces occupying the West Bank would not let Palestinians pass from Bethlehem to Jerusalem just to the north for Friday prayers at Al Aqsa Mosque. In response, hundreds of young men threw stones at Israeli soldiers occupying the northern Bethlehem checkpoint.
Thousands of Bethlehem residents intended to pray in the Muslim holy site on the third Friday of Ramadan, but as is the case most years, Israeli forces kept people hemmed in behind the checkpoint and now the new Wall.
Every year at Ramadan thousands of Palestinians prayed on the ground near the old checkpoint in northern Bethlehem in an act of nonviolent resistance after being turned away.
Israeli soldiers held each person trying to pass for a lengthy period, pushing some of them away, shouting insults at others, reports a 50 year old Al Doha Village man who must use the same checkpoint to reach Jerusalem. Normally there is no hope except for the elderly, and many times they are turned away as well.
And also as is often the case, the southern Bethlehem village resident told PNN, today Israeli soldiers were deliberately trying to provoke the people for about three hours, ensuring they would not make it in time for prayers.
Today under the rays of the late morning sun, Israeli forces attacked throngs of Palestinians trying to pass as young people threw stones and empty bottles. Israeli soldiers then began shooting, using rubber bullets and gas canister. Several people in the crowd began to faint, including the elderly and small children unable to endure the gas inhalation. Local medical teams arrived and began treating the ill and injured.
Similar events took place at the Al Ram Checkpoint in northern Jerusalem, and at the Qalandiya Checkpoint in southern Ramallah. Israeli forces were not letting Palestinians through for Friday prayers, young people were throwing stones and soldiers were violent, shooting gas and bullets. Thousands of people were not able to pray at noon today at Al Aqsa Mosque, of Islam’s holy sites