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In Pictures: The Strangling of Souk Al-Qatanin

Tuesday, 25 July 2017 20:07
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Souk-Al-Qatanin-july-2017The majority of the 54 shops inside the historical Souk Al-Qatanin remain unopened since the Israeli authorities closed the Qatanin entrance leading to Al-Haram Al-Sharif (Al-Aqsa compound) on Friday, 14 July 2017. Following the closure of the Old City (14-16 July), only three of the eight entrances leading to Al-Haram Al-Sharif were reopened to worshippers. Israeli authorities, however, installed metal detectors on the three entrances, which worshippers refused to enter through for fear of changes in the status quo.[1] The Qatanin entrance remains closed.[2]

Since regaining access to the Old City on Sunday 16 July, Al-Haq and the Community Action Center (CAC) observed an Israeli checkpoint at the entrance of Souk Al-Qatanin. The Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) initially barred all individuals who were non-residents or shop owners in the souk from entering. Although access restrictions were eased, the IOF presence remained in place until 25 July according to a local shopkeeper.

Given that the Qatanin entrance from which worshippers used to pass through to the Al-Aqsa compound remains closed, a source of traffic and customers to the souk is absent. Further, the IOF presence at the beginning of the souk served to intimidate tourists and locals from entry. One shopkeeper told the Community Action Center:[3]

On the morning of Friday the 14th I left my house in Ras Al-Tur and tried to access the Old City to reach my shop in Souk Al-Qatanin. The soldiers standing at the Damascus gate checkpoint did not allow us to go into the Old City. I then went back home. On Saturday the 15th I tried to enter the Old City, again, I was not allowed to access my shop. On Sunday morning, I entered the Old City from Jaffa gate. I came to my shop in Souk Al-Qatanin. I was allowed to enter but the Qatanin entrance leading to the Haram Al-Sharif was closed. The soldiers closed the entrance to the market, not allowing tourists or customers to go inside. Shopkeepers are not coming or opening their shops in Souk Al-Qatanin because they cannot sell. This is not the first time there are closures and access restrictions targeting this market. The closures and access restrictions have a very negative impact on our income. This situation makes it impossible for us to pay the taxes and bills, as our revenues are very low. As a result, we have very heavy debts.

The continued closure of the Qatanin entrance has disastrous consequences on the situation of hundreds of individuals dependent on the shops’ income. The shops will not be able to thrive unless the Qatanin entrance to the Al-Aqsa compound is reopened and access to the market is unhindered. On 25 July, however, it was observed that a metal bar was installed above and across from the Qatanin entrance. Our organizations are concerned that cameras will be installed there, as at Al-Asbat entrance, to further surveil Palestinians.

In total, Israel’s policies and practices constitute a clear policy targeting Palestinian residents and the economy of Jerusalem, and in particular the Old City, in order to unlawfully alter its demographic balance.

In Pictures: The Strangling of Souk Al-Qatanin



[1] The Israeli Security Cabinet issued a statement stating that metal detectors would be removed and replaced with “security measures based on advanced technologies.” See Security Cabinet Statement, 25 July 2017, available at http://www.pmo.gov.il/English/MediaCenter/Spokesman/Pages/spokeCabinet250717.aspx

[2] International Community must Intervene to End Israel’s Targeting of Jerusalem, Al-Haq and Community Action Center, 20 July 2017, available at http://www.alhaq.org/publications/papers/Israel’s.Targeting.of.Jerusalem.pdf

[3]Testimony taken on the 24th of July 2017 from a shopkeeper (Souk al Qatanin)

 


 

 
Al-Haq-Small

Al-Haq
Shawan Jabarin
General Director

CommunityActionCenter Community Action Center

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