Adalah to Police Commander and AG: Israeli police attempts to restrict Palestinians’ access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque by blocking buses and taking identity cards are discriminatory and illegal

Last week, Israeli police attempted to restrict Palestinians’ access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem in several ways. According to complaints received by Adalah from worshippers, on the 20th and 21st of April, the police only allowed them to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque if they agreed to hand over their identity (ID) cards to the police. Further, Adalah also received complaints that the police set roadblocks outside of Jerusalem and delayed buses of Palestinian citizens of Israel who were on their way to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.


Adalah sent two letters to Israeli authorities protesting against these measures.


On 22 April 2022, Adalah’s General Director, Attorney Dr. Hassan Jabareen, sent a letter to the commander of the Jerusalem District Police Doron Turgeman and the Attorney General (AG) Gali Baharav-Miara requesting their immediate intervention to remove all obstructions that delayed or prevented the arrival of worshippers to the Al-Aqsa Mosque for religious purposes during this holy month of Ramadan.


              CLICK HERE to read Adalah’s letter  


In the letter, Adalah argued that these restrictions violate Palestinians’ rights of freedom of movement and religion, and are thus, unconstitutional.

Adalah further argued that the police exceeds its power and does not have the legal authority to impose sweeping restrictions on the freedom of movement of large groups of people based solely on their national and religious affiliation, and that this measure is discriminatory, as it is used almost only against Palestinians. Adalah previously sent several letters concerning these matters, most recently in December 2021 following multiple incidents in which the police obstructed worshippers or protestors, and has not received an answer from the AG or the police.


              CLICK HERE to read Adalah’s letter


On 25 April 2022, Adalah sent a further letter to the commander and the attorney of the Jerusalem District Police requesting them to issue clear orders to the police to immediately stop forcing Palestinians to deposit their ID cards with the police as a condition for entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque to pray. In addition to illegally taking ID cards, in some cases, Adalah received information that when worshippers exited the Mosque, police instructed them to go to the police station to retrieve their ID cards, and when they did so, several worshippers were threatened and the return of their ID cards was made contingent upon being interrogated by police.


In this letter, Dr. Jabareen argued that these measures violate Palestinian worshippers’ rights of religious freedom, movement and dignity and are unconstitutional. Adalah further contended that the police actions to deter the exercise of religion are a form of collective punishment and that the police lack legal authority to impose such conditions. Withholding ID cards violates Israeli law; the law authorizes policemen, at most, to instruct individuals to present their ID cards and only under circumstances justifying such a demand. However, the police may not take ID cards as a ‘guarantee’. This demand also prevents residents and citizens from carrying their ID cards at all times, which is required by law for anyone older than 16 years of age.


Further forcing Palestinians to go to the police station and interrogating them without any reasonable suspicion that they have committed a specific offense, but in a collective and arbitrary manner, is illegal and appears to be motivated by racism.


Adalah’s General Director, Attorney Dr. Hassan Jabareen commented:


“The Israeli authorities systematically employ tactics and practices that are clear acts of collective punishment, in violation of Palestinians’ freedom of worship, protest and assembly. These recent restrictions on Palestinians’ access to the Al Aqsa Mosque compound join a series of illegal measures reserved only for the Palestinians, producing two separate law enforcement systems and perpetuating systemic racial discrimination."


(Photo: Andrew Shiva/Wikimedia Commons)


Related Press Releases:


Israeli police systematically and illegally block buses of Palestinian citizen passengers on their way to Al-Aqsa Mosque and demonstrations 09/12/2021