Israel Revokes Ramadan Perks and Permits in Wake of Terror Attacks

Defense Min. rescinds permits allowing 500 Palestinians to go abroad; tightens security in Sa’ir, hometown of terrorist who stabbed Border Policeman in Jerusalem on Sunday.

Olivier Fitoussi

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon have announced changes in policies intended to ease life for Palestinians during the holy month of Ramadan.

The ministry announced on Sunday that as a result of the terrorist attack on Friday near the settlement of Dolev, in which one Israeli was killed and another injured, and after the stabbing in Jerusalem of a Border Policeman on Sunday – the exit permits granted to 500 Palestinians, to enable them to travel overseas, will be canceled.

The permits, which would have allowed these residents of the West Bank to depart via Ben-Gurion International Airport outside Tel Aviv, had been authorized in advance by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai,.

The ministry also decided to cancel the entry permits into Israel of the residents of the village of Sa’ir near Hebron, where the terrorist suspected of committing the attack in Jerusalem came from.

“Other steps will be considered later,” said a statement from Ya'alon's bureau.

Last week, Mordechai announced the easing of various restrictions affecting Palestinians in honor of the Ramadan holiday, which are apparently still in effect: Men over the age of 40 and women of any age who are West Bank residents will be able to attend Friday prayers on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City throughout the month.

Israel's security and defense authorities also decided to allow entry directly into the Old City of buses from Ramallah and Bethlehem that are transporting the worshippers.

COGAT called these measures “a very significant easing of the rules.”

In addition, 50 Palestinian reporters “from national media outlets that do not engage in incitement,” in Mordechai’s words, have received permission from Israel to cover the Ramadan festivities in East Jerusalem. 

A number of restrictions were also eased for Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip: The number of those allowed to pray on the Temple Mount was increased, and the minimum age was lowered from 60 to 50. Moreover, some Gaza residents who wish to visit relatives in the West Bank are now allowed to do so.

In a terror attack on Friday, a Palestinian man shot and killed 25-year-old Danny Gonen, a Israeli student, and injured his friend lightly, near the settlement of Dolev in the Ramallah area.

The incident occurred at the Ein Buvin spring. Visits there by Israelis are supposed to be coordinated in advance with the Israel Defense Forces, which then ensures their safety, according to an IDF officer in the Judea and Samaria Division who briefed reporters. He said the two men did not pre-arrange their visit.

Both of the victims were in a car at the time of the shooting. According to an initial investigation, the two phoned a friend in Dolev after arriving at the spring, to say they intended to leave because of the number of Palestinians there. While returning to the Haparsa Junction, they were stopped by a Palestinian who struck up a conversation with them, during which the man took a pistol and shot the two.

On Sunday morning, an Israeli Border Policeman was critically wounded in an attack at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old city. The officer was stabbed in the neck, but managed to shoot the attacker before collapsing. Police identified the suspected perpetrator as an 18-year-old Palestinian who lives in the West Bank. He was evacuated to Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem, in critical condition.

In addition, stones were thrown at a bus and car on Saturday night near the Damascus Gate. The driver of the car was lightly injured. A 16-year-old Palestinian youth was arrested on suspicion of being involved. A firebomb was thrown about the same time at the Beit Hanina-Neveh Ya’akov junction in northern Jerusalem. The bomb missed the target and there were no injuries.

The attack Sunday was the first in Jerusalem since late May, when two Jewish youths were stabbed by a knife-wielding assailant in Jerusalem’s Old City, and hospitalized with light to moderate wounds. The suspect, a Palestinian, fled but was later apprehended by security services.

In general, however, the police said they are satisfied with the events of the first weekend of Ramadan, which were not marred by major incidents as tens of thousands of Muslim worshippers came to the Temple Mount to pray.