Al-Aqsa Mosque complex is a frequent flashpoint for violence against Palestinians, carried out by the occupiers. Al-Aqsa mosque is the third-holiest site in Islam and the complex is also the location of the holiest site in Judaism, known as Temple Mount. The attacks come as Muslims celebrate the holy month of Ramadan, while Jews around the world are set to mark the beginning of Passover. Christians also celebrated Easter around the same time this year, marking a time when Jerusalem, which has sites sacred to all three religions, was expecting an influx of people from all over the world.
Tensions on the ground in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory (Occupied East Jerusalem/Gaza City) are heading towards a large-scale eruption this Ramadan, analysts expect, as residents of the besieged Gaza Strip fear yet another war.
Below is a yearly recap of Israeli violence toward Palestinians during the holy month of Ramadan.
A Chronology of the Escalated Israeli Bigotry in Ramadan
- Ramadan 2014 (June 29 — July 28) – A total of 28 Palestinians are injured after Israeli forces quash a march in support of Palestinian administrative detainees, who have been on a hunger strike for more than 50 days. Israeli police deployed in large numbers around Jerusalem early on Friday as restrictions are imposed on Palestinian worshippers entering Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Fistfights break out inside Al-Aqsa Mosque compound between Palestinian worshippers and Israeli police officers who escort the right-wing Knesset Deputy Speaker Moshe Feiglin into the compound. A total of 110 people are injured in Jerusalem after Israeli forces raid the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
- Ramadan 2016 (June 7 — July 5) – Jewish visitors enter the compound of Al-Aqsa. Following protests against Jewish visitors to the site, several Palestinians are injured by Israeli forces. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society says the injuries came from tear gas, sponge-tipped bullets, and beatings. The protests ensued after Jews were allowed onto the site during the last 10 days of Ramadan, during which only Muslim worshippers are permitted. Israel closes Al-Aqsa to non-Muslims during Ramadan. Israeli authorities close the holy site to Jewish and non-Muslim visitors following protests against Jews visiting the mosque during the holy month of Ramadan.
- Ramadan 2017 (May 27 — June 25) – About 250,000 Palestinians visit Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan. Palestinians from the West Bank, Gaza, and Arab neighborhoods in Israel converge on the Al-Aqsa compound for Friday prayers. Men over 40, and women and children of all ages, are allowed by Israeli forces to enter the site without permits. Israeli authorities deployed thousands of troops.
- Ramadan 2020 (April 24 — May 23) – Al-Aqsa Mosque compound remains closed to Muslim worshippers throughout the holy month of Ramadan because of the coronavirus pandemic. Muslim worshippers pray near a gate of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound reopens to worshippers and visitors after more than two months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
- Ramadan 2021 (April 13 — May 12) – Tensions rise in East Jerusalem since Ramadan begins on April 13, with violent incidents against Palestinians by Israeli settlers and forces on a daily basis. These are mainly in and around the Old City, including Al-Aqsa Mosque, and in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, over the imminent threat of forced eviction of Palestinian families from their homes, initiated by Israeli settler organizations. Israeli forces storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound using tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets and stun grenades. This coincides with Laylat al-Qadr (May 8), observed by Muslims. Hundreds of Palestinians are injured, drawing international condemnation.
- Israel ignored an ultimatum to withdraw its forces from the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in the city’s east. The early-morning incursion by Israeli police firing tear gas and stun grenades into the compound raises tensions significantly, not least during the holy month of Ramadan. Hamas fires rockets into Israel from Gaza, and Israel begins a campaign of airstrikes against Gaza. Israeli police run after a cameraman at the compound that houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque in May 2021.
- Unrest extends to the wider West Bank, culminating in a “day of rage”, with 10 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces, the highest number of Palestinian fatalities recorded in a single day in the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem, since the United Nations began recording fatalities in 2005.
- The Israeli government allows Jews to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem in a move that risks shifting the site’s status quo.
- During Israel’s bombardment in May 2021, at least 260 Palestinians were killed, including 39 women and 67 children, and more than 1,900 people were wounded. Some 1,800 residential units were demolished, and at least 14,300 others were badly damaged.
- “Escalatory events during Ramadan always take us back to the memories of war, which we have not yet recovered from,” al-Qamo told Al Jazeera. “We have become afraid of the advent of Ramadan, even though it is a blessed and beloved month for us.”
- Ramadan 2022 (April 3 — May 3) – Raids of Al-Aqsa Mosque by Israeli security forces during the holy month of Ramadan heightened tensions further and, four days later, an 11-day Israeli assault on Gaza began.
- Israeli forces storm Al-Aqsa Mosque using tear gas shells and sound bombs, injuring at least 59 Palestinians. Israeli forces prevent Palestinians from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound to attend Friday prayers, on April 15, 2022.
- More than 20 Palestinians are wounded in several incidents in and around Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, bringing the number of wounded since April 15 to more than 170.
- At the Old City’s Damascus Gate plaza, Israeli forces, including undercover units, have been assaulting and arresting Palestinian residents on a daily basis, with at least 40 people, including minors, detained since the start of Ramadan on April 2. Some 3,000 Israeli police were deployed in the city on the first Friday of Ramadan.
- Al-Hidmi described events on the ground as an “ongoing struggle over control and space between the Israeli occupation and [Palestinian] Jerusalemites,” which “erupts during religious occasions.”
- Residents of the Gaza Strip say that, regardless of where any potential confrontations take place, they believe they will be the ones to pay the heaviest price.
- Ramadan has repeatedly been accompanied by war in Gaza, where the two main Palestinian armed resistance movements, Hamas and PIJ, are based. Out of Israel’s four wars on the Gaza Strip, two have erupted in the holy month.
- Tensions have escalated in recent weeks. Israel has been carrying out arrests and military raids in the illegally occupied West Bank in the wake of a series of deadly attacks by Palestinians inside Israel, setting off clashes in which several Palestinians have been killed, including seven since Wednesday.
- Ramadan this year coincides with the Jewish Passover holiday and Christian holy week, bringing thousands of pilgrims and other visitors to Jerusalem.
The Rise of Attacks During Ramadan
The pattern of Israeli violence in Ramadan is apparent as we notice the rise of attacks on Palestinians during that holy month. The fact that they exploit the timing to distract Muslims from their acts of worship and from making the most of their Ramadan should never be ignored or perceived as some kind of “conflict.” If anything, it is obvious that these attacks are deliberate, and it’s our moral responsibility to raise awareness and spread the truth about what is happening to Palestinians every single Ramadan.
This should be the month of spirituality and renewal, it should be the month of charity and giving. But it always ends up as the month when more and more Palestinians are being killed and tortured by the Israeli forces.