Israeli security forces announced that a full closure on the Israeli-occupied Palestinian West Bank would be extended until Tuesday, supposedly to protect a group of Israeli settlers as they begin construction of a Jewish synagogue on stolen Palestinian land in the Old City of Jerusalem.The announcement was made Saturday night by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, in the midst of a number of violent attacks by Israeli soldiers and police against unarmed Palestinians. A non-violent demonstration in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem was met by a violent response from Israeli troops, including tear gas and concussion grenades. Israeli troops also fired tear gas and concussion grenades at Palestinians waiting at a checkpoint into Jerusalem on Saturday.
While Barak termed these incidents ‘riots’, witnesses at each of the events confirmed that Israeli troops fired unprovoked at unarmed Palestinian civilians.
The Israeli security forces have also banned Palestinian men and boys under the age of 50 from attending services at the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. These age restrictions are common occurrences, which Palestinian Muslims say violate their freedom of religion and freedom to worship.
Non-violent protests have sprung up in various places in the West Bank over the last several days, following the Israeli government’s announcement that they had approved over 1600 new units to be constructed in Jewish-only settlements on stolen Palestinian land in East Jerusalem.