As the final ten days of Ramadan commences, Sunday’s clashes that broke out outside Masjid Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem caused much concern closer to home after numerous reports cited two South Africans as part of the detainees. The clashes, which broke out between Israeli Forces and Palestinian visitors to the precinct, is reported to have resulted from Palestinians protesting the presence of Jewish visitors in the precinct during the holy period.
In a report by Al-Jazeera, the Palestinian Red Crescent on Sunday confirmed that its medical team transported seven Palestinians to an East Jerusalem hospital for treatment of injuries from sponge-tipped bullets, tear gas and beatings.
Speaking to VOC, a member of the South Africa delegation observing I’tikaaf in Masjid Al-Aqsa, Ayoob Dadabhay confirmed that no South Africans have been arrested or injured. He said that while clashes did break out between Israeli security manning the precinct and Palestinian visitors to the masjid, one British citizen was injured and two were detained.
Dadabhay says that despite the uproar, following a brief moment of concern, those observing I’tikaaf managed to continue fulfilling their religious obligations.
Dadabhay affirmed that while Sunday’s incident was disturbing, Palestinians have continued to freely enter the precinct of the masjid.
“Everything is back to normal and things are carrying on normally,” he said.
The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) have confirmed that no South Africans have been injured or detained in Sunday’s clashes. In a statement, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in South Africa (BDS) said that they welcomed the news, but remain “concerned about the continued acts of intimidation and harassment by Israeli settlers and soldiers of Palestinian worshippers – particularly Palestinian Muslims and Christians in Jerusalem.”
“The denial to access religious sites by the Israeli regime is simply unacceptable,” said BDS South Africa.
In a show of solidarity with Palestinians, individuals from around the world travel to the holy land to observe I’tikaaf; eating and praying side by side. This year, close to 1000 South Africans have travelled to the holy land.