MIFTAH
Wednesday, 17 April. 2024
 
Your Key to Palestine
The Palestinian Initiatives for The Promotoion of Global Dialogue and Democracy
 
 
 

Introduction:

Israel has always attempted to take over Jerusalem, altering the demographic character of the City to impose a Jewish-only narrative, curtailing freedom of worship for Palestinian Muslims and Christians in Jerusalem. However, over the past five years, restrictions on and violation of freedom of worship in Jerusalem have taken a dangerous upward arc. This escalation is largely, but not exclusively, attributed to the rise of the far-right extremist government in Israel, with the likes of National Security Advisor Itamar Ben-Gvir in particular.

Israel has divided the Al Aqsa Mosque Compound, the third holiest site for Muslims, both temporally and spatially. Temporally, Israeli authorities have designated certain time slots for the entry of Israeli settlers into the compound to perform provocative tours, in morning, noon and afternoon intervals. During these times, Israeli authorities violently vacate Muslim worshippers from the site to make way for the Israeli settlers who are heavily guarded by Israeli occupation forces. Spatially, Israel aims to divide the location between Jews and Muslims, similar to the Ibrahimi Mosque in Al-Khalil/Hebron.

Christian holy sites are also a target of attacks by Israeli occupation forces and settlers in Jerusalem. This year alone, extremist settlers attacked the Gethsemane Church and the Church of the Imprisonment of Christ, causing material damages to both. Often, Israeli settlers spit, harass and curse at Christian clergy and nuns in the Old City, assaults that are conducted with complete impunity.

Freedom of worship is supposedly safeguarded by international law and conventions as a basic civil right. Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community.” Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states: “This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.” Through such actions, Israel also violates the Jerusalem Status Quo Agreement.

 
 
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