Israeli actions compound with Palestinian resentments into violence

Analysis: Provocative Israeli moves spark most dangerous outbreak of warfare since 2014

Israeli security forces detain a Palestinian protester outside the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City on April 29th. Photograph: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty

Israeli security forces detain a Palestinian protester outside the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City on April 29th. Photograph: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty

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Provocative acts carried out by Israeli security forces and settlers in East Jerusalem during Ramadan compounded with decades-old Palestinian resentments have erupted into the most dangerous outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian warfare since 2014.

This might not have happened if Ramadan had been relatively peaceful in the holy city. Existing tensions escalated when – although most Palestinian Jerusalemites have been vaccinated – Israeli security forces imposed Covid limitations on numbers allowed to attend special Ramadan prayers at al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site in Islam.

Sporadic skirmishes at the Haram al-Sharif – the mosque compound known to Israelis as the Temple Mount – broke out between Palestinian youths and Israeli forces and continued throughout Ramadan.

Two weeks of additional clashes ensued when Israeli police erected barricades to prevent Palestinians from gathering after daily fasts outside Damascus Gate, the main entrance to the Muslim quarter of the Old City. Ultra-nationalist Israelis were permitted to parade through the Old City, harassing Palestinians, attacking shops and homes, and chanting “Death to Arabs”.

On Saturday, Israeli police halted busloads of Palestinian citizens of Israel at the entrance to Jerusalem where they intended to go to al-Aqsa for the Night of Destiny, the most sacred annual observances marking the revelation of the Koran to the Prophet Muhammad.

Israeli police arrest a Palestinian demonstrator during a protest in support of Palestinian families that face eviction from their homes at Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, near Damascus gate in the old city of Jerusalem on May 8th. Photograph: Atef Safadi/EPA
Israeli police arrest a Palestinian demonstrator during a protest in support of Palestinian families that face eviction from their homes at Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, near Damascus gate in the old city of Jerusalem on May 8th. Photograph: Atef Safadi/EPA

The passengers, mostly women, alighted and began walking until Palestinian Jerusalemites arrived in cars to take them to the city. Many Israeli Palestinians travel to Jerusalem for Friday prayers and other religious occasions to demonstrate solidarity with brethren living under Israeli occupation.

Dr Mahdi Abdul Hadi, who heads an East Jerusalem think tank, told The Irish Times that Palestinian youths participating in protests have “reacted to the provocations. They are without leadership and are disappointed in Fatah, Hamas, the Arabs and the international community”.

Ramadan provocations were exacerbated by Israel’s long planned but now postponed evictions of Palestinian refugees from their homes of 65 years in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood north of the Old City. Palestinian resentment has built for decades due to home seizures by settlers, Israel’s refusal to grant building permits, demolitions of homes without permits, and land expropriations.

Palestinians in the Mount of Olives, Silwan and Ras al-Amud are also targeted. The UN reports that 877 Palestinians, including 391 children, currently face eviction.

Palestinian East Jerusalemites, particularly those studying or working abroad, can be stripped of their right of residence in the city if it is not the primary focus of their lives and both Muslims and Christians must marry within the narrow pool of eligible partners there or risk deportation to the West Bank or Gaza.

The Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco, which have signed normalisation deals with Israel, have condemned Israel as have Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation and non-Arab Turkey and Mauritania.

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