|All of Gaza’s population, in addition to over 40 percent of the Palestinian population of the West Bank, has been prohibited from entering Jerusalem for Friday prayers during Ramadan this year. Access for Palestinians with West Bank ID cards is restricted to men over 50 and women over 45 years of age, and boys and girls under 12, who may pass without permits. Men between 45 and 50 and women between 30 and 45 years of age are eligible for special permits. In total, it is estimated that up to 60 percent of Muslim Palestinians are denied access to Friday prayers in East Jerusalem.|
Even for those West Bank Palestinians who are eligible, entry proved difficult during the second and third Fridays (4 and 11 September), when the IDF estimates that approximately 130,000 and 190,000 Palestinians, respectively, entered East Jerusalem.
Access has been particularly problematic for women and children at Qalandiya checkpoint, the designated crossing point for those coming from the central and northern West Bank governorates. While males have been able to pass relatively smoothly, the lanes for women set up outside the checkpoint are made up of narrow stone passages, which are inadequate and potentially dangerous. On 4 and, especially, 11 September, the surge was such that women and children were knocked over. Once inside the checkpoint, only one lane has been provided for women and this has also proven dangerous; on 11 September, barriers cemented into the ground were knocked over due to overcrowding and mounted police horses were called in to control the women’s passage. While vehicle lanes were opened up multiple times on 4 September to relieve the backlog at the women’s lanes, this happened only once on 11 September, adding to the crush.
According to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, 19 people were injured on 4 September while trying to access East Jerusalem via Qalandiya checkpoint. This number rose to 80 on 11 September, predominantly women and children, with 20 requiring treatment in hospitals in Ramallah.
In order to ensure that West Bank Palestinians, who are eligible, can cross Qalandiya in a safer and more orderly manner, OCHA submitted recommendations of a practical nature to the District Coordination Liaison Office (DCL), none of which have been implemented, thus far. It remains unclear if West Bank Palestinians will be able to access East Jerusalem on the final Friday of Ramadan, which falls on 18 September, just before the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashana), when a general closure has been imposed on the West Bank in recent years.