Palestine: Occupied East Jerusalem in Revolt


By Yossi Schwartz, Internationalist Socialist League (RCIT Section in Israel / Occupied Palestine), 20.9.2015, http://www.the-isleague.com and www.thecommunists.net

 

The Jewish Bible tells us that the Philistines oppressed the Israelites and that the Philistines had a giant warrior name Goliath who challenged the Israelites to fight him. As Goliath moved in for the kill, the young shepherd lad, David, reached into his bag and slung one of his stones at Goliath's head. Finding a hole in the armor, the stone sank into the giant's forehead and he collapsed face down on the ground. David then took Goliath's sword, killed him and cut off his head. When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran. So the Israelites pursued, chasing and killing them and plundering their camp.

We can imagine the reaction of the Philistine kings to this heroic action of David. They issued order that any Israelite boy who holds a stone must be killed.

In the last few days Palestinians and the Israeli army and police have clashed in many neighborhoods in Jerusalem. The Palestinians throwing stones while the Israeli army and police, the Goliath in this situation, have been using live ammunition. In addition, the Israeli government, in reaction to the Palestinian youth throwing stones, is considering loosening its rules of engagement to give soldiers greater leeway in firing at Palestinian stone-throwers. In other words, the Israeli armed forces are allowed to kill even with more ease than before.

It is no coincidence that these clashes are taking place during the Jewish high holidays, as this is the time that right wing Zionists, protected by the police and the army, regularly provoke the Palestinians in the Al-Aqsa Mosques.

 

The Provocation

 

Reports in Western mass media create the impression that, out of the blue, Palestinians are throwing stones and are killing innocent people.

A Jewish man died early Monday morning after attackers pelted the road he was driving on with rocks as he was returning home from a dinner celebrating Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, the Israeli authorities said. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called an emergency meeting to discuss rock-throwing, mostly by Palestinian youths. The man was identified in local news reports as Alexander Levlovich, 64. His death was reported as the police and Palestinian youths clashed for a second day at a contested holy site in Jerusalem, amid tensions over increased visits by Jews for Rosh Hashana. The two-day holiday began at sundown on Sunday.” (1)

The current acts of resistance to the Israeli forces began on September 13 when Israeli armed forces assaulted two Al-Aqsa Mosque guards at the holy site in occupied East Jerusalem. According to the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Endowment the guards, Mowafak al-Hamami, 50, and Hamza Nimer, 35, were assaulted by Israeli forces who were escorting a group of Israeli right-wingers who entered the site despite the opposition of the guards. Both guards were taken to Makassed hospital for medical treatment. Witnesses said that an Israeli pushed a Palestinian woman during the tour and swore at her. Around 25 Israeli right-wingers entered the site via the Mugrahbi Gate, while 60 Palestinians were denied access to the compound. At least 52 of those denied were Palestinian women known as the Murabitat who have been blacklisted by Israel from entering the site. Israeli right-wing extremist Yehuda Glick participated in the tour, as Palestinians shouted “Allah Akbar” (God is Great) at the group. Tensions have soared across East Jerusalem in the wake of three days of violent clashes at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the third holiest site in Islam. Palestinians fear Israel is seeking to change rules governing the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, with far-right Jewish groups pushing for more access to the compound and even efforts by fringe organizations to erect a new temple instead of Al Aqsa. The same organizations that on Jerusalem day last May march in the Arab old city chanting “Death to Arabs” and “We will build the third temple.

The PLO has accused Israel of provoking the entire Muslim world in its actions at the compound. “Israel is playing with fire,” senior PLO official Hanan Ashrawi said Monday, warning that Israeli authorities were forcibly securing control over the site “in preparation for the total annexation and transformation of Al-Haram Al-Sharif.” (2)

The Ma‘an News Agency has also reported:

Israeli forces entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound's southern mosque on Tuesday sparking the third straight day of violent clashes at the third holiest site in Islam. Dozens of Palestinians were injured in the clashes, during which Israeli forces fired stun grenades, tear gas canisters, and rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinian worshipers. The Palestinian Red Crescent's Jerusalem director, Amin Abu Ghazala, told Ma'an that 36 Palestinians had received treatment. He said that some of the Palestinians had suffered wounds and bruises, while others had suffered excessive tear gas inhalation. At least two were hospitalized. The director of Al-Aqsa religious school for boys, Nadir al-Afghani, said that a 14-year-old boy was hit in his head by a rubber-coated steel bullet and had received 10 stitches. Israeli police said five officers were lightly injured.” (3)

According to Laurent Lozano, a reporter with the AFP:

Palestinians and Israeli security forces clashed in Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound and the surrounding Old City for a third straight day on Tuesday despite international calls for calm. Young demonstrators gathered around the mosque threw stones at police who had entered the compound in large numbers and responded with stun grenades. Police said they cleared debris from the entrance of the mosque and closed the door on those inside who had been throwing stones, fireworks and other objects at security forces. The Jordanian-run Waqf organisation which administers the site said that police entered deep inside the mosque and caused damage. Amman said Israel’s actions amount to “aggression” against Arab and Muslim nations, and said it was examining legal and diplomatic means to protect religious sites in the Holy City. Jordan has custodianship rights over Muslim holy places in Jerusalem under its 1994 peace treaty with Israel. The new flare-up came despite calls for restraint from the United Nations, United States and European Union. UN special envoy for the Middle East peace process Nickolay Mladenov warned that “provocations” at the site could lead to unrest elsewhere in the Middle East.” (4)

A senior Israeli official in Jerusalem said that Israel told Jordan it has no intention of making any change to the status quo at the holy site, and said that the Palestinians are spreading lies on this issue. (5)

Is this so, or do the Palestinians have a reason to believe that the Israeli government supports the far right plans to destroy the Mosques and build a Jewish temple instead?

 

Report by Ir Amim

 

A 2013 report by the Israeli research organization Ir Amim noted:

Over the past several hundred years, a status quo has been maintained according to which the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif area (henceforth: the Mount) is an area reserved for Muslim prayer and the Western Wall is a prayer area reserved for Jews. Over the last decade, the status of these areas has gradually shifted, driven by a revival of activity by Jews determined to strengthen the status of the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif complex as a Jewish religious center and to marginalize the claims of Muslims to the Mount. In the past year alone, hundreds of national religious Jewish pilgrims have ascended the Mount, including groups of rabbis, women, members of Knesset and recently, soldiers in uniform….

The movements’ growing momentum and dangerous provocations to change the status quo are not receiving adequate attention, nor is the disturbing connection between these movements and official Israeli institutions…. In the last three decades, there has been a considerable increase in movement-sponsored public education activities and dozens of organizations have arisen with the goal of raising public awareness about theimportance of the Temple Mount and its reconstruction. These groups are backed by an increasing number of public figures, Knesset members and state institutions. The current situation at the holy sites in Jerusalem is rooted in the status quo established during the Ottoman era.

The overriding principle guiding worship arrangements over the past 500 years is the separation of worship sites: Muslims conduct their religious worship in Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock and Jews worship at the Western Wall.This principle was revalidated after Israel occupied the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif in1967 . Ten days after the occupation, on June 17, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and the members of the Higher Muslim Council agreed that IDF soldiers would vacate the Mount area and deploy around it, allowing internal supervision to remain under the purview of the Waqf and designating authority for external security to Israel's security forces. The interdiction against Jewish prayer on the Mount was accepted by a ministerial committee for the protection of holy sites and was tacitly indicated by halting Rabbi Goren's activity on the Mount and ordering security forces to evict Jewish worshipers attempting to pray on the Mount. This arrangement satisfied both the Waqf and the Orthodox Rabbinate.

According to Ami Ayalon, former head of the Israel Security Agency (a.k.a. the “Shabak”): “The very fact that Jews who want to change the status quo, whether it is Feiglin or anyone else, ascend the Mount and pray, is a recipe for explosion. We )Shabak( have said that even though the status quo is problematic, stability is very valuable and anyone who wishes to change the status quo must do so very patiently, in the broadest circles. Such a process must include the kings of Morocco, Jordan and Saudi Arabia as well as the president of Egypt. The second circle includes the leadership of the Palestinian Authority. […] All of this must be part of a broader political process. Only a combined treatment by all of these parties might bring about a change in the status quo on the Mount."(Ami Ayalon, interview with Yizhar Be’er and Yehudit Oppenheimer, December 13, 2012)

The very ascent to the Temple Mount by Jews has been forbidden by various halachic [Jewish religious law) rulings. The interdiction is rooted in the laws of purity and impurity, based on the idea that all Jews today are polluted by the "impurity of death" through primary or secondary contact with the dead. According to halachic tradition, one must not enter the area of the Temple without being cleansed from the impurity of death. This purification ritual is no longer possible given the requirement of a special rite involving the ashes of a redheifer, which cannot be found today. In recent years we have witnessed a change in the definitions of the prohibition by religious Zionist rabbis, who call on Jews to ascend certain areas of the Mount "in a state of purity"and even lead such ascents themselves. They rationalize these actions based on the belief that they have the ability to identify where the boundaries of the ancient Temple ran and to direct their students accordingly. Among these rabbis are many of the leaders of the historic Gush Emunim, rabbis of the "settlement enterprise." (6)

An Israeli reporter, Amira Hass, has written that the Hebrew website Temple Mount News reported last week that Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, who traditionally visits the mount every Rosh Hashanah, was there among the many Jewish visitors:

They ascended the holy site after a heavy police presence used force to keep away young Palestinians who intended to stop the visit by throwing stones and firecrackers. The clashes repeated on Monday and Tuesday. Palestinian sources report that at least 40 Palestinians were injured, among them many journalists. They also report extensive damage, including broken doors in the mosque. Ariel, the website reported, blessed the Jewish people with the priestly blessing. This is the same Ariel who in July met with the parliamentary team of Students For The Temple Mount, and promised that he would take action to end “discrimination against Jews on Temple Mount.” He also promised the students he would set up a meeting with Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan to examine the “behavior of Israel Police toward Jews visiting Temple Mount.” And here we are, this week Erdan praised the police for doing a firm job on Sunday and said the current arrangements on the mount have to be reviewed. Ariel, as housing minister, called two years ago for rebuilding “the real Holy Temple on Temple Mount.” He apparently has not repeated the statement publicly since then, but it is not the passing remark of an Internet comment-writer. Between the “visits” and the recurring break-ins of armed Israelis into the holy Muslim site, his statement is a scary indication. The attempt to present visits by Jews to the site as affirmative action motivated by the principle of equality is playing dumb and dangerous in its pretension Over the past few days, amid clashes at the Temple Mount, Jordan’s King Abdullah II made strong declarations against Israel, and even sent a warning over the future of Israel-Jordan ties. “Any more provocations in Jerusalem, will affect the relationship between Jordan and Israel; and Jordan will have no choice, but to take action, unfortunately,” he said. Following escalation on the Temple Mount last year, Jordan returned its ambassador in Israel for consultations in Amman, and only sent him back to Tel Aviv after many months.” (7)

 

More Repression

 

Meanwhile, on September 15, Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian taking part in a demonstration in the northern West Bank to protest Israeli actions at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Another five Palestinians suffered excessive tear gas inhalation during the protest, which marched to an Israeli checkpoint known as Sani Oz to the west of Tulkarem. Medical sources told Ma‘an that the Palestinian was in moderate condition after he was shot in the thigh. (8)

On September 16, Palestinian youths clashed with Israeli forces across occupied East Jerusalem on Tuesday night following three days of violent clashes at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. The clashes erupted in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods and villages of al-‘Issawiya, al-Tur, Shu‘afat refugee camp, Silwan, Sur Bahir, and al-Sowwana. Muhammad Abu al-Hummus, a local committee member in al-‘Issawiya, told Ma‘an that clashes broke out in ‘Issawiya after Israeli forces chased and shot at two Palestinians, injuring one and detaining the other. Abu al-Hummus said that during the ensuing clashes, Israeli forces raided the village and sprayed foul-smelling skunk water on the streets and on one of the village’s mosques. He said that a 13-year-old girl, Saly Yousif Muhessien, who was in a nearby park, was injured when she was hit by a rubber-coated steel bullet in her neck.

In Shu‘afat refugee camp clashes broke out there after Palestinian youths threw Molotov cocktails at a nearby Israeli checkpoint, setting an Israeli control tower on fire. Israeli forces responded by firing tear gas canisters and rubber-coated steel bullets,. Israeli forces also raided al-Tur neighborhood, reportedly detaining a child there, identified as Muath Sayyad.

In al-Sowwana neighborhood, clashes broke out after Palestinian youths shot fireworks at the Israeli settlement of Beit Orot, built on the neighborhood’s land. Clashes also erupted in the southern village of Sur Bahir when Israeli settlers marched to the village entrance, raising Israeli flags and chanting about the death of an Israeli driver, who police say may have lost control of his car after a stone was thrown at it.

The Wadi Hilweh information center said that clashes also erupted in the Ras al-Amoud neighborhood of Silwan, just south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. The information center said that Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters and sprayed skunk water through the neighborhood’s streets. (9)

On September 15, occupation forces arrested a 14-year old Mu’nes Emad Idkeidek from in front of his house in the neighborhood of Ras Al-Amoud in Silwan. The child’s father explained to Wadi Hilweh Information Center that the occupation forces arrested his son while he was in front of his house in Ras Al-Amoud in Silwan. The forces fired three rubber[-coated steel] bullets towards him and despite being injured and falling on the ground, nearly 8 soldiers assaulted and severely beat him under the pretext of throwing stones. The child’s father added that the forces arrested his son while barefoot and verbal altercations broke out between the forces and the family members. The father also added that the forces refused to talk to him about his son’s medical condition and the type of injury he suffered and instead handcuffed the boy despite the fact that he was bleeding. He pointed out that his brother tried to follow the forces to check on Mu’nes but the forces fired a rubber bullet towards him and injured him in the hand. (10)

On September 17, Israeli forces detained four Palestinian children and two young men from different neighborhoods of occupied East Jerusalem, after ransacking their homes overnight,. Addameer human rights lawyer Muhammad Mahmoud said Israeli forces detained Ramiz Ajlouni, 12, and Muatazz Said, 16, in the Old City of Jerusalem overnight on Wednesday, while local sources told Ma‘an Nabil Sidir, 13, was also detained from his home in the Old City. Locals in the East Jerusalem village of Sur Bahir told Ma‘an that Israeli forces stormed the village and detained Muhyiddin Najih Ibkerat, 20, Nasser Amirah, 25, and Muatazz Mahmoud Dabash, a Palestinian in his twenties.

On Tuesday night, September 14, Israeli forces also detained eight young men and minors from the neighborhood of Silwan, the village of al-Tur and the Old City — all in occupied East Jerusalem — for alleged stone-throwing. Silwan-based monitor, the Wadi Hilweh Information Center, reported that Israeli forces have detained 34 young men and 26 teenagers in the neighborhood in the past five days alone.

Most of the 60 were detained during clashes in East Jerusalem neighborhoods in protest against Israeli forces storming the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and attacking worshipers, the monitor group said. (11)

On September 15, Israeli occupation soldiers kidnapped a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance on Monday that was transporting an injured Jerusalemite and forced it to head towards Hadassah hospital and arrested the injured person. The soldiers stopped the ambulance and pointed their guns towards the ambulance’s staff and then got inside the vehicle next to the injured person and forced the driver to head towards Hadassah hospital. The Palestinian Red Crescent Association denounced this Israeli assault which is a clear infringement on the work of the ambulance crews and impeding the humanitarian mission in addition to riding inside the vehicle and forcing them to drive to a specific location. The Israeli aggression is a flagrant violation of the provisions of international humanitarian law in terms of respecting medical staff and providing special protection to them so that they perform their duties safely and without humanitarian threat to their lives and the delivery of ambulatory services and relief to the civilian victims living under occupation . . . Wadi Hilweh Information Center was informed that the detainee is Murad Sarandah who received treatment at Hadassah hospital. The center was also informed that the occupation forces transferred the detainee to Salah Eddin Street police station for interrogation. The village of Esawyeh witnessed violent clashes on Monday in support of Al-Aqsa Mosque due to the recurrent settlers’ break-ins. (12)

On September 17, Israeli soldiers invaded the al-Makassed Islamic Charitable Society Hospital, in the at-Tour village in occupied East Jerusalem, and searched several sections. Hospital administration said the soldiers invaded and searched the Children’s Ward, nurses and doctors’ rooms, the Department of Internal Medicine, and Urgent Care rooms. The soldiers claimed they were searching for young Palestinians who participated in clashes with the army that took place near the hospital building. The army also searched the all hospital yards, and nearby neighborhoods, and kidnapped two young Palestinian men. (13)

On September 16, occupation forces arrested three children from the Old City of Jerusalem. Wadi Hilweh Information Center’s lawyer explained that the occupation forces arrested the 11-year old Mohammad Ismaeel Ahmad Hoshyeh and the 11-year old Mohammad Adel Abdel Hadi Sweiti. The lawyer explained that according to the two children the forces suddenly arrested them while they were in the Old City’s markets and took them to Al-Silsileh Gate police station. Hoshyeh was pushed and punched on his face during the arrest and while detained at the police station. It is noteworthy that they were arrested while heading home after leaving school (Omaryeh and Aytam schools). (14)

 

Israel is Pushing to a New Intifada

 

Frustrated by the failure to prevent the US/Iran nuclear agreement the Israeli government is escalating the repression of the Palestinians to galvanize a new wave of chauvinism. This is an old trick of the Zionist state. But it only deepen the growing isolation of the Israeli state and pushes the Palestinians in the direction of a new intifada that may be part of a new wave of the unfinished Arab springs that we may begin witnessing in Lebanon and Iraq

On September 1, Catherine Shakdam, a bourgeois political analyst, writer and commentator for the Middle East who focuses in particular on radical movements published an article in the Russia Today where she wrote:

Revolution's fire is burning bright in the Levant and its winds are infectious. From Lebanon to Iraq and beyond, Bahrain, the Middle East is once more holding its breath before the defiance of its youth. This time around, revolutionaries have their eyes locked on the Establishment.

Four years after Tunisia set fire to the barricades by rising against authoritarianism (2011), inspiring an entire generation to denounce nepotism and oligarchic capitalism, Lebanon and Iraq are setting the tone for a second revolutionary wave - only this time, protesters are speaking a very different language and their demands are rooted in secularism, fair political representation and social justice.Unlike the Arab Spring movement, which was very early on hijacked by the "old guard" to serve a very political agenda, the Levant is standing defiantly independent and non-partisan. More importantly and most definitely key, both Lebanese and Iraqis are standing together against any form of religious, social or ethnic divisions.

Where Tunisia and Libya's democratic aspirations were crushed before they can blossom, the Levant is not playing any factions' game - neither financed by any particular group, nor sold out to any self-serving agenda….The new Montesquieu and Robespierre of our century are being born in the streets of the Middle East; their resolve made stronger by decades of economic injustice, political misrepresentation and rampant colonialism.” (15)

As a bourgeois writer, Shakdam is unable to see the perspective of the permanent revolution: that for the democratic tasks to be accomplished, the working class led by a revolutionary party must lead to a socialist revolution. However her ability to see a new revolutionary wave is important and she may be very right about it.

* Israel hands off Al Aqsa!

* Victory to the Palestinian struggle!

* For a Free, Red Palestine!

* For a new victorious revolutionary wave from Saudi Arabia to Tunisia!

 

Footnotes:

(1) Diaa Hadid: Jewish Man Dies as Rocks Pelt His Car in East Jerusalem, The New York Time, Sept 14 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/15/world/middleeast/israel-west-bank-violence.html?_r=0

(2) Israeli forces assault two Al-Aqsa Mosque guards, Ma'an News Agency, Sept. 16, 2015, http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=767638

(3) Israeli forces storm Aqsa Mosque in third day of clashes, Ma'an News Agency, Sept. 15, 2015, http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=767612

(4) Laurent Lozano: Clashes rock Jerusalem mosque compound for third day, AFP, September 15, 2015, http://news.yahoo.com/clashes-rock-jerusalem-mosque-compound-third-day-054615673.html

(5) Barak Ravid: Israel Seeks to Allay Jordan Concerns Over Temple Mount Violence, Haaretz, Sep 16, 2015, http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.676247

(6) Yizhar Be’er: Dangerous Liaison The Dynamics of the Rise of the Temple Movements And Their Implications, Ir Amim & Keshev, March 1, 2013, http://www.ir-amim.org.il/sites/default/files/Dangerous%20Liaison_0.pdf

(7) Amira Hass: The sanctity of provocation on Temple Mount, Haaretz, Sep 17, 2015, http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.676245

(8) Palestinian shot, injured at Tulkarem protest over Aqsa, Sept. 15, 2015, Ma'an News Agency, http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=767618

(9) Clashes erupt across East Jerusalem in wake of Aqsa violence, Ma'an News Agency, Sept. 16, 2015, http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=767630

(10) After injuring him with a rubber bullet and assaulting him, the occupation arrests the child Mu’nes Idkeidek, September 15, 2015, http://silwanic.net/?p=62396

(11) Israeli forces detain 6 in East Jerusalem, including 4 children, Ma'an News Agency, Sept. 17, 2015, http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=767659

(12) The occupation kidnaps a Red Crescent ambulance and arrest an injured person, September 15, 2015, http://silwanic.net/?p=62392

(13) Soldiers Invade Al-Makassed Hospital In Jerusalem, September 17, 2015, http://www.imemc.org/article/73045

(14) The occupation arrests three children, September 16, 2015, http://silwanic.net/?p=62501

(15) Catherine Shakdam: Lebanon leads the way: Forget the Arab Spring - Here comes the real Arab Uprising! Russia Today, September 1 2015, https://www.rt.com/op-edge/314011-lebanon-iraq-bahrain-protests/

 

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