As Muslim communities throughout the world celebrate Eid and the conclusion of Ramadan, Palestinian Muslims in occupied East Jerusalem are grieving after yet another holy month in which Israel chose to target them. Israeli security forces attacked Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, again and again. 
Israel has no sovereignty over al-Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary), which houses Al-Aqsa. Jordan and the Jordanian appointed Jerusalem Waqf Council have the power to decide what happens on its grounds under the internationally recognized status quo.
Nonetheless, Israeli officials prohibited midnight worship in the Al-Aqsa compound, barring Palestinians from freely expressing their faith, which was Mmet with Palestinian opposition. Many Palestinians were also barred from accessing the sacred place by Israeli officials, breaching not just their right to free worship but also their freedom to move freely within their own country.

The world media has long since moved on from the issue of Israeli aggression in occupied East Jerusalem, but the Muslim community should not. It is past time for us to consider how we should respond to Israeli abuses
of Islam’s holiest sites and Israeli cruelty towards our Palestinian brothers and sisters.

One fundamental question is how Muslims should approach pilgrimage to Al-Aqsa and travel to occupied Palestine. 

Understanding the Israeli Occupation

When analyzing this topic, it is critical to grasp the Israeli occupation and the apartheid system under which Palestinians live.
For decades, Palestinians have been subjected to a slew of brutal Israeli practices, including land expropriation, segregation, economic dispossession, and illegal settlement construction. Israel consistently breaches Palestinians’ human rights, including, assaulted, detained, and even killed by Israeli authorities.
Even Palestinians with Israeli citizenship experience the impacts of Israeli apartheid, including discrimination in education, healthcare, and other key services.

Palestinians are also denied the right to roam freely inside their own country.
They are unable to travel freely between Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem due to a network of checkpoints, roadblocks, separated roadways, an apartheid wall, and an arbitrary permission system.

This means that Palestinians, both Muslims and Christians, are frequently refused entry to their sacred places, although international visitors are free to come and go as they choose.
Palestinians are frequently barred from traveling overseas. More than 10,000 Palestinians will be barred from traveling to Israel in 2021. Even Palestinians from the diaspora are frequently denied entry into occupied Palestine and Jerusalem. Israeli border police gather information on who is of Palestinian heritage, who has refugee status, and why they are
visiting. Furthermore, international people of Palestinian heritage who wish to visit, reside, or work in Palestine are frequently turned away at Israeli controlled entry points.
Even if you have a privileged passport, you cannot enter the country.
Residents of occupied East Jerusalem enjoy nominal access to Al-Aqsa, although even they are subject to limitations. Muslim pilgrims, for example, are permitted to enter the courtyard through the Mughrabi Gate, while
Palestinians are not. Israeli authorities routinely close Al-Aqsa on a regular and arbitrary basis for “security” reasons .
The assertion made by Israel that it recognizes and adheres to the status quo at the holy sites is clearly incorrect. Every day, Israeli officials violate Jordan’s and the Waqf’s “endowment” rights by imposing their own security measures and selecting who gets to enter Al-Aqsa .
These transgressions have long fueled concerns about avoiding travel to Jerusalem, particularly in the Arab world. The late Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi issued a fatwa in 2012 on it. 

Profits for Israel and the eradication of Palestinians

Apart from Israel’s attacks on Al-Aqsa and Muslim worshippers, another point to examine is how visiting the holy sites financially enriches Israel and indirectly supports its propaganda.
Tourism contributes significantly to Israel’s economy, accounting for 2.8 percent of the country’s GDP and 6 percent of its employment .
In 2019, Israel reported that around 127,000 visitors from Muslim-majority nations visited the country. Add in Muslims from other diasporas, and you have a sizable portion of the 4.5 million visitors that visit Israel/Palestine
each year.
With the signing of the Abraham Accords, a series of normalization agreements with Arab governments in 2020, Israel has tried to tap into new pools of potential Muslim tourists to enhance its tourism business.

Supporting Palestine

Of course, Palestinians do not believe they have the only authority to select who from the Muslim world may and cannot attend Al-Aqsa. They have, however, requested support for their cause.
One idea  is to heed the call and refuse to travel to Jerusalem.
However, there is another possibility: a pilgrimage to Jerusalem might provide visitors with a chance to express international solidarity with the Palestinian cause .
Israel uses tourism to whitewash its misdeeds, and anybody who travels must oppose these deceptive techniques.

The author’s views are his own and do not necessarily reflect GazaPress editorial position

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