Israel Rescinds Entry Permits Handed to Palestinians for Ramadan After Deadly Jerusalem Attack

Israel takes back permits granted to Palestinians wishing to visit family members in Israel on Ramadan ■ Entry for Friday's prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem to continue as usual

Israeli border guards stand outside Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City following the attack, June 16, 2017.
AFP/ Thomas Coex

Israel has revoked permits allowing Palestinians to visit Israel on occasion of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan after a deadly attack in Jerusalem on Friday, a senior official told Haaretz. Muslim worshippers' access to the Temple Mount for Friday prayers will remain unchanged.

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The decision to revoke the permits was made during a conference call between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and senior members of his cabinet, as well as top security officials, after three Palestinians carried out an attack outside the Old City in Jerusalem, killing a policewoman and wounding several others before being shot dead.  

Deir Abu-Mash'al, the village the terrorists behind the attack came from, was closed Saturday and the families of the attackers have had their work permits in Israel rescinded.

According to the army, the houses of the attackers were mapped in preparation for the possibility of their being demolished. Signs were hung in the village explaining that the actions were being taken as a result of Friday night's attack.

According to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, over 250,000 permits were revoked.

Writing on Facebook, Maj. Gen Yoav Mordechai said: "You've destroyed the Ramadan atmosphere in Judea and Samaria,"he said, using the Jewish and military term for the West Bank. "Three bastards who undertook this cowardly terror attack received praise from Fatah who falsely claimed they were innocent. This is incitement to terror. In response to this heinous crime and the incitement by Fatah officials to win popularity, Israel has decided to take action, the first is revoking 250,000 entry permits [for Palestinians visiting family in Israel] and revoking work permits from the kin of the terrorists."

On occasion of the month of Ramadan, Israel has given thousands of Palestinians special permission to enter Israel to visit family on weekdays, and has given Palestinians greater access to the Temple Mount, as has been the custom on Ramadan in previous years. According to the senior official, the weekday permits are now rescinded, while access to the Temple Mount on Fridays will continue.

Following the attack, Jerusalem District's Police Commander Yoram Halevy said that some of the attackers had permits to enter Israel, but it was not clear what kind of permits he was referring to. He added that there were no specific alerts before the attack. "However we know what Jerusalem is. We are in the Ramadan period and we do not act according to alerts, we are on one big alert all the time," he said.

Jerusalem Police noted that Ramadan, Islam's holiest month, was unusually calm this year, after previous holidays had been marred by terror attacks and clashes between Palestinians and police. For the first time this Ramadan, Israel allowed buses of women and children from the West Bank into Jerusalem for Friday's prayers.