by the Yanoun team,
On the 18th of June Muslims all over the world, including in Palestine and Israel, started the holy month of Ramadan. During this month Muslims fast during the light hours of the day in solidarity with the suffering of the poor, and they dedicate themselves to prayers. As Jerusalem is the third holiest city for Muslims, many Palestinians wish to visit the Holy City to pray.
19.06.15. Bethlehem Checkpoint 300, Muslims on their way to Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque during the first Friday of Ramadan. Photo EAPPI / I. Tanner
Each Friday during Ramadan, tens of thousands of Palestinians make the arduous journey from the West Bank to Jerusalem through checkpoints to pray at al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. Our summer team of Ecumenical Accompaniers (EAs) monitors the checkpoints every Friday to ensure that all who desire are able to go to Jerusalem to pray and report on any human rights abuses that occur during crossing. Although the first few Fridays at the Bethlehem Checkpoint 300 were well organized, EA C. Naess notes the underlying humanitarian injustice in needing to cross a checkpoint at all.
“We want to make sure it opens when it is supposed to open, and that everyone with permits are allowed through,” she described. “This first Friday was very good on that. Very well organized, no big problems at the checkpoint. I was monitoring for eight hours, and everyone seemed happy to be able to reach Al Aqsa mosque in time for the prayer. But as my colleague said, it doesn’t really make sense to be impressed by the organizing of a checkpoint. It would be more impressive if the whole wall was removed and the need for a checkpoint would disappear.”
Crossing Bethlehem Checkpoint 300 on the First Friday of Ramadan. Photos c/o B. Myszkowski
At 3:00 am, people are already queuing up for the checkpoint to open at 04:00am.
The Israeli military is ready for opening…
…and so are the Ecumenical Accompaniers (EAS) and the Palestinian police
An EA looks on at the masses gathering to go to Friday Prayers. Over 22,300 people crossed the Bethlehem Checkpoint on the first Friday of Ramadan.
First stop, all entering Jerusalem must have their ID’s check.
Next, all Palestinians must go through a security check.
After crossing the checkpoint, the view of the separation wall.
Finally on the other side, they head to Jerusalem.