Like much in Palestine, pilgrimage is complicated by the occupation. Palestinians from the West Bank generally need a permit to enter East Jerusalem, and Israel beyond. For Ramadan, however, the Israeli authorities loosened some restrictions, issuing permits for prayer to some people, and letting in all women and men over the age of 40.So the Qalandia checkpoint, on the road between Ramallah and Jerusalem, was busier than usual. The traffic began a kilometre back, as masses of people descended from taxis and buses. What was normally the vehicle lane at the crossing had become the women’s entrance, where groups in long coats and hijabs were steadily filing through. Israeli border police were perched above on concrete blocks, watchful, rifles in their hands.In the wake of last Friday’s deadly attack in Jerusalem, when an Israeli border police officer was stabbed to death by three Palestinian attackers who were shot and killed, the Israeli government cancelled 250,000 such family visitation permits. The move was part of what Palestinians and rights groups say are a package of measures of collective punishment that often follow attacks.
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