Jun 28 2015
By Daoud Kuttab
When Mohammad Badarneh made it to Jerusalem, he was in awe. He spent hours walking the streets of the Old City, praying at Islam’s third holiest site, Al-Aqsa Mosque, and visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, while posting pictures of what he saw on hisFacebook page. Badarneh, who hails from the northern West Bank city of Jenin, now lives in Ramallah where he works as a reporter for Palestine TV. He was one of tens of thousands of West Bank Palestinians who visited Jerusalem in the first week of the month of Ramadan, which began June 17.
Thousands of travelers were issued permits on the eve of Ramadan by the Israeli army’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Unit to the surprise of many, including the Palestinian leadership. It isn’t clear what motivated Israel to carry out its far-reaching travel relaxation policy. Is it a genuine first step toward dismantling the occupation, or is it a sign that Israel intends to keep the occupation for a long time and wants to better manage this crisis?
Israel’s unprecedented travel relaxation included, for the first time in 15 years, permits to 500 well-vetted Palestinians to travel abroad via Ben Gurion International Airport, and a similar number of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to travel to Jerusalem via the Erez crossing. A further 50 Palestinian journalists were given permission to enter the holy city to produce reports on Ramadan festivities and general life in Jerusalem. Continue Reading »