IDF checks Arab woman at checkpoint
IDF checks Arab woman at checkpointArutz Sheva: IDF photo

Easing of IDF restrictions has allowed 62,000 Palestinian Authority Arabs to visit Jerusalem since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan two weeks ago, the military reported.

"This is a large amount that continues to increase from week to week” and allows Arabs to pray at sites that also are holy to Jews and to visit families, said head of Civilian Affairs Department, Col. Alex Rosenzweig.

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Defense Minister Ehud Barak approved the easing of restrictions, in coordination with the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Brig. Gen. Eitan Dangot.

The relaxation of security measures during Ramadan also has allowed more Palestinian Authority businessmen to travel in all of Israel. Extended hours have been implemented at checkpoints and for Muslim prayers at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hevron.

"In spite of IDF operations against the Hamas terror organization in Gaza, it's important to us to help the uninvolved Palestinian residents," said Col. Rosenzweig.

In contrast, in Jerusalem, Arabs carried out acts of violence and vandalism against Jews on the fast day of Tisha B’Av, which marks the end of the three-week period of mourning over the destruction of the First and Second Temples. Muslim clerics and Palestinian Authority leaders increasingly have denied any Jewish connection with the Temple Mount.

Due to the sensitivity of the Palestinian population during this month, the District Coordination Offices representatives instructed all the forces operating in these areas on how to interact with the residents.

"We handed out information packets on Ramadan traditions and events to all combat soldiers and bodies operating in the area to prevent any potential conflict with the population," said Col. Rosentzweig. "The combat soldiers are instructed to be tolerant and refrain from eating and drinking in front of the fasting Palestinians."

The month of Ramadan comes out at a different time and season each year, due to the lack of compensating leap years in the Arab lunar calendar, whose year is shorter by 11 days than the solar year. The Jewish lunar calendar adds a second month to the month of Adar seven times every 19 years, an astronomical calculation that keeps the Jewish holidays in the same seasons each year and in tandem with the solar calendar.

During Ramadan, Muslims fast all day and break their fast each night, with feasts and festivities.