12 January 2024 | International Solidarity Movement | East Jerusalem
Video showing the attack by the IOF on worshippers at Wadi Al Joz. Credit: ISM
The arbitrary restrictions on Palestinian Muslims accessing the holy site in Jerusalem for prayers have now been in place for over four months. These restrictions continue to be imposed by means of an excessive and intimidatory presence of Israeli Occupation Forces around the access points to the Old City where the Al Aqsa Mosque is, especially around the time of Friday prayers.
Worshippers have responded steadfastly to the occupation forces’ denial of their rights by praying in the streets close to the Old City and Al Aqsa, in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Wadi Al Joz. The occupation forces appear to view this as a threat of the highest order, one which cannot be tolerated, and respond with extreme brutality.
At today’s (12th January) Friday prayers, twenty five worshippers laid down makeshift prayer mats on a side road in Wadi Al Joz, in a very calm, dignified and non-threatening manner. However, within two minutes, IOF soldiers could be seen running down the road towards them brandishing weaponry, from the direction of the Old City. Volleys of tear gas were launched towards the worshippers forcing them to abandon their prayers and run further into the residential area, pursued by their attackers and a skunk truck, a weapon used for its nauseating bad smell.
The IOF prevented ISM volunteers and most of the Israeli activists, as well as the media, from following and documenting what happened. But ISM understands that in their pursuit of the worshippers – a phrase that in itself shows the absurdity of the occupation forces’ behaviour –, IOF soldiers fired excessive amounts of teargas including inside residents’ homes before withdrawing from the neighbourhood.
IOF brutality in the service of enforcing a collective punishment on the Palestinian Muslim community in East Jerusalem will not deter the Al Aqsa faithful. For four months they have endured this, and every Friday they have continued to resist.