Friday,22 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1373, (14 - 20 December 2017)
Friday,22 February, 2019
Issue 1373, (14 - 20 December 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Palestinians erupt for Al-Aqsa

Palestinian resistance has risen throughout the occupied territories, rejecting Trump’s decision, writes Haitham Ahmed


#Palestinians erupt for Al-Aqsa # Palestinians erupt for Al-Aqsa
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The vast majority of political observers and analysts agree that Donald Trump, with his recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, has issued the death certificate for the US-sponsored Middle East peace process. They also agree that the Palestinian leadership should abandon that project which has proven futile and shift to a new and bold tack in the Palestine liberation struggle.

Omar Shalah, a writer and political analyst from Gaza, described the Trump decision as the “bullet of mercy” that put paid the so-called peace project brokered by the US. The decision has given greater legitimacy to the militarised occupation than ever before. This, he said, should convince the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), which has continued to accept that project, that the project is worthless and that it needs to take steps to reorient its compass in the confrontation of the occupation that is supported by forces of evil, the US above all, and to search for a genuine peace broker.

Political analyst Zul-Fuqar Suwerju agrees that Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel sounded the death knoll to the American negotiating project which was a waste of time and merely gave the occupation the chance to create new realities on the ground. In Suwerju’s opinion, the declarations of the Palestinian Authority (PA) were also a sign of the dying moments of the US-sponsored negotiating project. The PA’s “No to withdrawal from the peace process” was merely a dodge in order to gain some time in the hope of any development that would help it save face following the failure of the project to which it had committed itself for so long. Suwerju stressed the need to “institutionalise” the conflict against the occupation on the basis of a strategy that relies on Palestinian unity in the fight for Palestinian rights, as opposed to depending on outside powers such as the US.

Abdel-Sattar Qassem, a political science professor at An-Najah National University in Nablus, held that there were many diverse alternatives for confronting the US decision, but that the PA had neither the will nor the desire to look for them.

In a related development, Palestinian factions and political figures felt that the reaction from Arab foreign ministers to the Trump declaration was disappointing and not commensurate to the crime against the Arab and Islamic city and its holy places. The Palestinian factions and politicians, in diverse statements, agreed that the Arabs should criminalise normalisation with the occupation power, close its embassies, as well as those of the US, wherever they may be.

The Palestinian Resistance Committees held that the Arab foreign ministers meeting failed to meet the minimum hopes and aspirations of the Arab and Muslim peoples, especially on the question of occupied Jerusalem and the American-backed conspiracy to Judaicise the city and target its Islamic holy sites.

In one of the reactions to Trump’s decision at the level of the street, a Palestinian youth — Yassin Abul-Qaraa — staged a knife attack at the central bus station in occupied Jerusalem. Observers say that he reignited the spirit of the Jerusalem Intifada and the “war of knives” that erupted following the killing of Muhanned Al-Halabi in 2015. Analysts said that the 24-year-old Abul-Qaraa had defied the intensified security measures that the occupation authorities had put in place following the Trump announcement and managed to stab a fully armed Israeli security officer in the chest.

The stabbing attack infuriated occupation leaders who fear a renewed wave of stabbing attacks. A number of Israeli extremists called for the young man to be sentenced to death while the occupation’s mayor of Jerusalem said that the appropriate answer to the attack was to expand Israeli settlement construction in the city.

The political analyst Youssef Omar foresees a fresh rise in lone wolf attacks in the coming days, especially in occupied Jerusalem, the scene of most of the protest demonstrations against Trump’s decision. Video footage of Abul-Qaraa’s stabbing attack is likely to inspire other angry young people to stage similar attacks now that he has broken the barrier of fear for those who reject the occupation power’s presence in Jerusalem, Omar said, adding that if security coordination between the PA and Israel and the clampdown on resistance factions in the West Bank restricted coordinated operations, stabbing attacks remain the easiest way for young people to vent their rage and defend Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Palestinian public opinion hopes that the Trump decision will galvanise Palestinian political factions into resolving their disputes and unifying their forces for the sake of the higher interests of the Palestinian people. Talal Abu Zarifa of the central committee of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) held that Hamas and Fatah needed to take a common stance against the Trump decision, which was an attack against Palestinian rights, and to undertake their responsibilities to save the Palestinian cause from Israeli and US schemes. Towards this end, the two factions need to press forward in the reconciliation process which, he said, would deliver a blow to the American decision.


WEST BANK: Palestinian factions and political and religious forces in the West Bank called for an escalation in the popular campaign of rage against Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In a joint statement, they said that at this important juncture in the national cause, it is essential to sustain and broaden grassroots action that has etched its rejection of the decision in blood in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The factions also drew up a programme for the struggle in which they called for solidarity between the members of a single people, both Muslim and Christian; their common prayers in mosques and churches, and protest demonstrations and sit-ins in central squares and before US buildings and emblems.

Demonstrations and clashes with Israeli security forces have continued to rage in all West Bank cities, from Tobas and Jenin in the north through Nablus, Tulkarem, Qalqaliya and Ramallah to Bethlehem and Hebron in the southern West Bank. Protesters waved Palestinian flags and chanted national slogans. Occupation soldiers attacked the demonstrators with tear gas, mace and other toxic gases, as well as with sound bombs and live ammunition.

In Tulkarem, a demonstrator received a live bullet in the foot. In another case, an exploding bullet tore through a young man’s hand, which had to be amputated. Many suffered wounds from rubber covered bullets in confrontations in the western part of the city.

In Bethlehem and Beit Jala, occupation forces took up positions on the rooftops of people’s homes, turning them into observation posts and even military barracks.

An Israeli bus was targeted by gunfire in the vicinity of Ein Yabrud, north of Ramallah. According to Israeli news sites, no one was injured but the bus was damaged.

According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Israeli occupation forces have used excessive force in their attempts to suppress Palestinian rage. A report released by the centre states that four Palestinians were killed in Gaza and hundreds were wounded, including women and children, as a result of the use of excessive force against participants in protest marches. IDF air raids were also used against demonstrators. This high casualty toll proves that the occupation forces are bent on committing more crimes through their use of excessive force against Palestinian civilians, the report concludes.

As of last Monday, the Palestinian Ministry of Health reported that four people were killed and another 1,632 were wounded (1,327 in the West Bank and Jerusalem and 305 in Gaza) as the result of the Israeli occupation’s use of excessive force against demonstrations in various parts of the occupied territories. The ministry also announced the names of the four martyrs: Mahmoud Al-Masry (30), Maher Atallah (54), Abdallah Al-Atal (28) and Mohamed Al-Safadi (30).

The ministry report also details the cause of the injuries: in the West Bank inclusive of Jerusalem, 28 Palestinians were shot by live ammunition, 305 were injured by rubber coated metal bullets, 962 suffered gas asphyxiation and 15 received injuries from beating and dragging.

In Gaza, 64 people were wounded by live ammunition, 11 by rubber coated bullets, 184 suffered gas asphyxiation, 12 were wounded through falls or burns, and another 15 were wounded during the Israeli aerial bombardments of various areas in the Strip.

The report also mentioned that Israeli occupation forces deliberately targeted emergency medical teams, ambulances, journalists and defenceless civilians. Such actions flagrantly violate the principles of international law and the Geneva Conventions, which should compel the international community and humanitarian organisations to take more intensive measures to ensure the protection of medical teams and civilians.


JERUSALEM: In Jerusalem, protest marches against the Trump decision quickly encountered the arms of the occupation forces. At the rally at Bab Al-Amoud (one of the most famous gateways of Old Jerusalem), occupation forces lashed out against young men, women and journalists with brute force. Dozens of protesters were arrested and Palestinians flags were confiscated, triggering further clashes in which protesters resorted to attack and retreat tactics.

The media coordinator for the Jerusalem Waqf Association, Faras Al-Dibs, reported that occupation forces stationed at the entrances to Al-Aqsa Mosque compound had begun to retain the ID cards of everyone who entered the mosque.

On Sunday, two buses carrying settlers to the Maaliya Edomim settlement in eastern occupied Jerusalem were damaged when protesters pelted them with stones. Meanwhile, the “Temple of the Mount” organisation called on their supporters to storm Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Israeli media cited Zionist organisations’ calls to Israeli settlers to take part in a rally on Sunday evening in front of Al-Asbat Gate to Al-Aqsa compound in which demonstrators would call for all gates to be open to Jews and to increase the hours they could enter the compound.

According to Al-Dibs, teams from the Zionist “Natural Authority” group, backed by occupation police, invaded a Muslim graveyard and began to chop down and uproot trees, in violation of the sanctity of graveyards and the dead.

Jerusalemites who tried to stop the assault were forcefully driven back by occupation forces.

The Palestinian National Bureau, which documents Israeli abuses and incursions against Palestinian land and property, reported that, in spite of the US administration’s appeal to Israeli officials to restrain their response to Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and decision to move the US embassy there, Israeli Minister of Construction Yuaf Galant announced plans to build 14,000 new settler units in Jerusalem. Similarly, within hours after Trump’s announcement, other ministers proclaimed that there were “no more excuses after today”.

Violent clashes continued throughout the week, in the neighbourhood of the Mount of Olives overlooking the old city, in Salwan to the south of Al-Aqsa Mosque, Wadi Al-Jawz and Al-Sawana near the historic wall of Jerusalem. But perhaps the most important was that which took place on Salaheddin Street in front of the historic Jerusalem wall near Al-Sahira Gate. Occupation police on horseback and on foot attacked demonstrators, swinging cudgels and other weapons, and arresting dozens, including MP Jihad Abu Zanaid and the young Asil Abul-Leil whose veil was snatched off her head by police as they attacked and arrested her. Traffic and daily business in and around the vicinity ground to a halt as Salaheddin Street, one of the most famous and most vibrant streets in the old city, turned into a small battlefield.


GAZA: A number of parts of eastern Gaza have been the scene of daily confrontations between young Palestinian men and women and occupation forces.

The Palestinian resistance fired several rockets from Gaza into Israel, triggering sirens in Siderot settlement and nearby areas. The IDF’s “iron dome” intercepted most of the missiles in the Negev.

The Israeli army retaliated with aerial and artillery fire, targeting locations of the Qassam Brigades in northern Gaza Friday evening. Two people were killed and dozens wounded in the attack. Eyewitnesses relate that occupation forces deliberately set their sights on areas near residential buildings in spite of the fact that those buildings were far away from the locations of the resistance brigades.

On Saturday, Israeli fighter jets resumed their raids against diverse targets in Gaza. Al-Qadisiya, in southern Gaza, was hit by at least two missiles while three more struck Badr in central Gaza and two missiles struck the civil administration unit in eastern Jabaliya in northern Gaza.

The Israeli army warned that it would retaliate against missiles fired in the direction of Israeli villages and said it held Hamas solely responsible for what was taking place in Gaza.

Two Palestinians were killed in Israeli aerial attacks against Gaza Saturday morning. Six-month-old Youssef Ammad Ashkian had to be rushed to hospital after having sustained severe wounds during the attack. The infant is in critical condition.

The Palestinian Ministry of Education reported that several schools in Gaza were damaged by Israeli bombardments.

According to the Israeli army, a tunnel was discovered that allegedly belonged to Hamas, leading beneath the Gaza border into Israel from the area of Khan Younis. Evidently, the tunnel had been discovered several weeks ago but was only destroyed this past week. Contrary to previous occasions, in which the IDF used bombs to destroy tunnels, killing 12 resistance fighters, this time they dismantled the tunnel during the night using the army’s engineering corps.

“The digging of tunnels is a gross violation of Israeli sovereignty that we cannot abide in any manner,” the Israeli army spokesperson said.

It is no coincidence that, this past Sunday, the Israeli ministerial committee for legislative affairs approved a bill of law that would allow the government to delegate to the cabinet (the ministerial security council) powers to declare war and peace with the agreement of the prime minister, and to undertake military operations that could ultimately lead to war.

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