Written by a contributor for Tjen Folket Media
Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on Monday, May 10, firing rubber bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at Palestinian civilians who were praying during Ramadan. The assault left hundreds of Palestinians wounded, with over 80 hospitalized, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society.
Monday’s attack brings the total wounded to at least 541 following a recent uptick in Israeli aggression in the West Bank, centered on the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. On Sunday, May 9, the Jerusalem District Court ruled in favor of Israeli settler organizations, ordering the removal of over a dozen families from their homes.
Hundreds of Palestinians living in Sheikh Jarrah have been forcibly displaced by independent Israeli settler organizations since 2002, mostly funded by US donors. These groups, however, serve as a thinly veiled cover for official Israeli efforts to implement a “demographic balance” in Jerusalem dating as far back as 1973.
Although Israeli courts give families 30 days to file appeals for their eviction, most appeals are promptly rejected by the occupation government. In 2010, cartographer and Jerusalem historian Khalil Toufakji presented historical documents recovered from Ottoman-era archives, including a deed that negates the settler’s claim to the ownership of the area to the Israeli district court. The documents were ignored and the original ruling upheld.
An April appeal presented to the UN Special Procedures says that Israeli law “provides the basis for its creation of an apartheid regime over the Palestinian people as a whole.” The appeal goes on to point out that
not only has Israel unlawfully extended its domestic civil legal system to occupied East Jerusalem, but proceeded to enact more discriminatory laws and policies that enforce the confiscation of Palestinian property in East Jerusalem in favour of settlers, the forcible transfer of Palestinians, and the expansion of Israeli-Jewish presence in the city.
Fayrouz Sharqawi, the global mobilization director for Grassroots Jerusalem, tells Al Jazeera that “this system is an integral part of the Zionist colonial state, which identifies as a ‘Jewish state’ and accordingly and systematically oppresses, dispossesses and displaces Palestinians.”
Israel’s Supreme Court postponed the appeal hearing of the eviction of several Sheikh Jarrah families scheduled for Monday, May 10, a chilling reflection of Israeli apartheid, given established Zionist settler proclivities for extrajudicial violence and antagonism, supported by Israeli military forces.
Israeli Displacement Policy Part of Occupation Strategy
Roughly 200,000 Israelis are currently illegally occupying East Jerusalem under military protection. By contrast, around 370,000 Palestinians live in East Jerusalem. The recent crackdown and displacement campaign is part of the 1973 Gavni Committee set up by former prime minister Golda Meir to achieve a “demographic balance” in Jerusalem, with the goal of limiting the Palestinian population to 30 percent or less.
While Israel’s judicial organs stall appeals hearings, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has effectively endorsed illegal Zionist settlements, declaring over the weekend that he “emphatically reject[s] the pressures not to build in Jerusalem.”
Since 1990, the Israeli Ministry of Housing Construction has been building settlement blocs in the middle of Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem in a concerted effort to fragment Palestinian residents. Zakariah Odeh, the director of the Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem tells Al Jazeera that “as a result, some 140,000 Palestinians live outside the separation barrier, and cannot access the city.”
The illegal de facto Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem serves as a stepping stone for the Zionist colonization of other West Bank areas, particularly those adjacent to East Jerusalem. Al-Bustan, an area south of the Old City of Jerusalem, and home to 119 families in 88 buildings, are slated to be demolished following Israeli plans to construct an archaeological park, according to Odeh. Another 84 homes are at risk of demolition in accordance with plans to expand an Israeli national park. Some 700 people are to be forcibly displaced in Batan al-Hawa to make room for an Israeli settler group.
Tjen Folket Media has also written about an Israeli bombing of the Gaza Strip last month. Aggressive Israeli military action is typically reserved for its Gazan occupation, while the imperialist enterprise tends to rely the Palestinian Authority’s collaboration and gradual fragmentation in the West Bank. That said, West Bank Palestinians are no strangers to the brutality of occupation forces.
Vicious Nationalism and “Vigilante” Oppression
The recent atrocities carried out by the Israeli occupation comes as Israeli ultra-nationalists organize a “Jerusalem Day” parade through stolen Palestinian streets. This is in line with established Zionist traditions of dehumanization and demoralization. Footage from 2017 shows Israeli settlers taunting a 15-year old Palestinian girl after she bled out and died in the street after being shot by Israeli soldiers. Below is an image from AFP of Israeli settlers taunting a Palestinian woman in front of her occupied home on “Jerusalem Day”.
This has created an atmosphere in which Israeli settlers feel that they can murder Palestinian civilians with impunity. Occupation forces shot 16-year old Yousef Mohammad Odeh in the back twice in Nablus Wednesday afternoon before he succombed to his wounds. Although Nablus is located deep within Palestinian sovereign territory, it is controlled by Israeli military forces. Extremist settlers living in more than 40 illegal settlements surrounding Nablus has organized constant raids an assaults on Palestinian neighborhoods, razing farmlands and firing on peaceful protesters as Israeli soldiers turn a blind eye.
This inhumane brutality is not reserved for the most extreme settlers, however. A video entitled “Feeling the Hate in Jerusalem” uploaded by Max Blumenthal in 2009 documented Tel Aviv youth speaking their minds on Obama and Arabs. The three minute video was packed to the brim with genocidal hate speech and racial slurs. The video has since been banned from internet streaming services, following pressure from the Israeli government. During the Israeli bombardment of Gaza in 2014 under Operation Protective Edge, “moderate” Israelis living in the border town of Sderot set up plastic lawn chairs and watched the carnage from a nearby hilltop while eating popcorn.
Israel is an Apartheid State
The fresh violence exacted by Israeli imperialism is part and parcel of Israel’s strategy of aggressive expansion to create an ethno-religious apartheid state on stolen Palestinian land. Writers at Dem Volke Dienen point out that “contrary to the bourgeois steam chatter, Covid19 has not ‘changed everything’” and Israeli’s terrorism has continued unabated.
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