Israeli forces 'will not close off' east Jerusalem's Damascus Gate this Ramadan: report
Israel has allegedly decided not to place crowd-controlling barriers opposite the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City during the upcoming Islamic holy month of Ramadan, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Sunday.
Jerusalem District’s police commander Doron Turgemen, who authorised placing barriers last year, approved the Jerusalem Municipality plan on holding cultural events during Ramadan, according to the report.
Senior police officers also backed the decision. They said: "This year’s decision shows how bad of a mistake the fences were [last year]."
Damascus Gate, which is one of the eight gates leading into the walled Old City that serves as a popular gathering spot for many Palestinians during Ramadan and other festive times, was cordoned off by Israeli forces on 13 April last year- which marked the first day of Ramadan.
Palestinians customarily gather at the spot after breaking their fast, and to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam.
The barricading of the gate triggered a series of violent incidents between Palestinians and Israeli forces, who responded to Palestinian protests with force, resulting in the injury and arrest of many Palestinians in the occupied east Jerusalem.
The skirmishes also preceded last year's Sheikh Jarrah forced evictions and Israel’s assault on the besieged Gaza strip, which killed more than 250 Palestinians and left thousands injured and displaced.
Israel invaded the West Bank in 1967, and has occupied it ever since. Palestinians in the West Bank often face intimidation and violence from Israeli forces and Jewish settlers.
The holy Muslim month of Ramadan is set to take place sometime between 2 April and 1 May this year, and violent confrontations are once again feared.