Israeli occupation forces prevented hundreds of Palestinian Muslims from entering the holy city of Jerusalem for Friday prayers at the Al Aqsa Mosque on 13 October, the third Friday in the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
Israeli occupation soldiers confronted the crowds of Palestinians - including elderly men, women and children - at a number of checkpoints and barriers around the city of Jerusalem.
At the Qalandia checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem, Israeli jeeps and soldiers took up position on Friday morning and used water cannons to prevent scores of Muslims from passing. Reports also indicate that the Israeli soldiers used tear gas and fired rubber and electric bullets in an attempt to disperse the crowds. Electric bullets are a recent addition to the occupation forces' arsenal; on contact, the bullet gives the recipient an electric shock. The Israeli soldiers are also reported to have used sticks to beat the crowds away.
Reports from the scene say that at least twenty Palestinians were suffering from the effects of tear gas and a number had been injured. At least half of the potential worshippers were not allowed to cross the checkpoint into Jerusalem.
Similar scenes were witnessed at the main checkpoint between the West Bank city of Bethlehem and Jerusalem. The Israeli soldiers beat the crowds back with sticks and threw sound grenades into the middle of the waiting Palestinians. One sound grenade landed at the feet of a small child. The grenade exploded in his face, causing him slight burns and shock. Many others suffered burns from the sound grenades.
Despite Israeli media reports that Palestinians had been throwing stones at the Israeli occupation soldiers at the checkpoints, there were no reports of Palestinians throwing stones at either the Bethlehem or Qalandia checkpoints. Rather, in the crush at the Bethlehem checkpoint, many tried to run away and in the stampede, an elderly woman was trampled. A Palestinian ambulance was on the scene treating the injured.
Apparently at random, a number of men - if aged over 45 - were eventually allowed through the Bethlehem checkpoint into Jerusalem. At the checkpoint near the village of Anata, a few elderly men were allowed to pass only. Hundreds were held back.
It is reported that tens of thousands of Palestinians were hoping to enter Jerusalem on Friday in order to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem. The Al-Aqsa Mosque is considered the third holiest Islamic site in the world after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.