Jerusalem Police’s Barricades and Brutality at Damascus Gate during Holy Nights of Ramadan
Footage by Nir Hasson
On April 19, 2021, along with our colleagues at Ir Amim - City of Nations, we sent an urgent appeal to the Police Commissioner and the Jerusalem District Commander, demanding the removal of all police barricades that had been erected in the Damascus Gate area during the holy nights of Ramadan. Furthermore, we demanded that police curb the excessive force that they are directing toward Palestinians celebrating in the vicinity.
The large steps at the Old City’s Damascus Gate are a central landmark in both the culture of East Jerusalem and the identity of the city’s Palestinian inhabitants, having served as a traditional gathering and meeting place for many years. This is the case year-round, and even more so during Ramadan’s evenings and nights after the fast ends, during which Palestinian Jerusalemites and their guests congregate in the area to meet, socialize, and observe the holy month. This year, for no clear reasons, the police decided to prohibit people from sitting on the large platforms that comprise the steps to the gate and decided to erect barricades that made it impossible for to use and gather in the space.
“Predictably, blockading the steps with police barricades, alongside heightened police presence, has led to nightly clashes and confrontations that lead to disproportionate police violence, use of stun grenades, water cannons, and riot horses,” wrote ACRI Attorney Tal Hassin, who continued: “The police’s entirely unjustifiable decision to forcibly prevent people from sitting or socializing on the steps – with all of their significance to the traditional celebrations and customs of Ramadan – has created conflict and friction, harming those celebrating the holiday and the joy of its post-fast evenings. This decision has increased the growing mistrust that East Jerusalem residents feel toward the police and their representatives.”