Israeli police disperse Ramadan family gathering in Jerusalem

Israeli police disperse Ramadan family gathering in Jerusalem
2 min read
West Bank
24 March, 2023
Ramadan is often a tense month in the occupied Palestinian territories, with Israeli assaults on civilians continuing.
The Damascus Gate Square has been at the center of tensions between Palestinian residents and Israeli police in recent years [Getty-file photo]

Israeli police detained two Palestinians in Jerusalem late on Thursday on the first day of Ramadan, as it dispersed a gathering of Palestinian families at the city's Damascus Gate Square.

Dozens of Palestinian families gathered on Thursday after iftar ("breakfast" or the meal Muslims break their Ramadan fast with) at the square, situated at the entrance of the city's Old City, one of the few public spaces available to Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem.

Israeli police forcibly dispersed the gathering and detained Mohammad Salaymeh, a man in his twenties. The second Palestinian, Ibrahim Khalil, also in his twenties, was arrested by Israeli police earlier at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The Palestinian Prisoners' Affairs Commission said later in a statement that Ibrahim Khalil was released on condition he avoids the Al-Aqsa compound for a week.

The Al-Aqsa compound is the regular target of raids by far-right Israelis, including this week when the Muslim holy site was stormed.

"The Damascus Gate Square is a very sensitive place because the occupation's [Israeli] police are heavily present there and can easily become nervous when there is a large crowd of Palestinians," Amjad Abu Asab, head of the Jerusalem Detainees' Families Committee, told The New Arab.

"The occupation police also intend to impose more controls during Ramadan, when the place is even more crowded with Palestinians."

He said Israeli police used an argument between the two young men as an excuse to disperse the iftar gathering.

The Damascus Gate Square has been a scene of confrontation between Israeli police and Palestinians in recent years. In April 2021, Israeli police tried to impose iron barriers, denying locals access to the area, sparking a wave of Palestinian protests and violent confrontations in the city.

In 2022, Israeli police also dispersed Palestinian families from around the square during the Muslim holiday of Mawlid (the Prophet Muhammad's birthday), provoking confrontations with Palestinian young men.