Friday,22 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1404, (2 - 8 August 2018)
Friday,22 February, 2019
Issue 1404, (2 - 8 August 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Jerusalemites resist

The latest Israeli aggression against Al-Aqsa Mosque failed within hours under pressure of Palestinian popular resistance, writes Haitham Ahmed


Jerusalemites resist
Jerusalemites resist

Jerusalem’s Palestinian residents have succeeded in their efforts to prevent the Israeli occupation army from once again shutting down Al-Aqsa Mosque as Israel tries to impose a fait accompli and normalise a plot to impose full control over Jerusalem and divide it temporally and spatially as it did at Al-Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron.

Hundreds of Israeli special forces raided Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday from Mughrabi Gate and began randomly firing a hail of burning sound bombs, tear gas, and live and rubber bullets. They beat worshippers and arrested at least seven of them. Meanwhile, a large march of thousands of worshippers at Al-Aqsa began amid chants of Allahu Akbar (God is Great) and other anti-occupation slogans. The occupation was forced to re-open the mosque doors letting in thousands of protesting worshippers, similar to a scene last year when Israel attempted to erect electronic gates at the doors of Al-Aqsa under the pretence of security measures.

Sheikh Omar Al-Kaswani, the director of Al-Aqsa, said: “Jerusalem residents along with hundreds of Palestinians from the occupied territories and the West Bank shattered occupation plans to shut down the mosque by gathering at Lions Gate and other gates, and performing afternoon prayers on Friday outside Al-Aqsa Mosque as a message confirming the permanent and eternal Palestinian right to this holy site.”

Al-Kaswani said the raid and shutdown are unusual measures, especially on a Friday which is the holy day for Muslims, when Al-Aqsa has the most worshippers. “The occupation tried to portray the raid as a normal measure to normalise these actions for locals, but worshippers rejected this policy and confronted it as they did when they prevented the installation of electronic security gates last year,” he explained.

He noted that Jerusalem residents are more persistent about Al-Aqsa due to what they feel are escalated and quick steps to make Jerusalem Jewish and build settlements there on their holy sites, such as the excavations under Al-Aqsa. Al-Kaswani blamed the occupation for continued tensions in Jerusalem.

Mohamed Sweidan, a writer, believes the absence of an Arab or international reaction to Israel’s attempts to raid Al-Aqsa Mosque is nothing new. Despite serious steps undermining the core of Palestinian rights that contradict even what the occupation signed in the Oslo Accords, there was negligible reactions, except from a handful. “The Palestinian people are left to confront these actions and aggression by themselves,” said Sweidan. “They have few weapons other than their resilience and rights for which they have made sacrifices for decades, and continue to sacrifice for the sake of their nation.”

He cautioned about the danger of this phase, especially since the occupation currently has a good opportunity to carry out its plans, which means it must be confronted by different means. Sweidan believes it is time to use more forceful and impactful confrontation until the occupation finds itself in constant battle, preventing it from succeeding in this difficult phase and imposing its decisions and plots to erase the Palestinian cause.

Hassan Khater, an expert on Jerusalem affairs, described recent actions and aggression by the occupation on Al-Aqsa as invalid measures that will not succeed in changing the reality of the mosque. “It will forever be a Muslim mosque that represents the beliefs of all Muslims around the world,” he said.

He added that if it wasn’t for the resilience of Jerusalem residents and their confrontation with Israel’s continuous evil actions, the occupation would have imposed its agenda. This steadfastness is the main obstacle in the way of these plots, not Arab or local declarations of condemnation. He cautioned against continued violations of Al-Aqsa Mosque by Israeli police, stating this would lead to further tensions and push the region into more violence and instability.

Khater called on international agencies and other countries to intervene to stop Israeli actions at Al-Aqsa Mosque. What it is doing now is a violation of the sanctity of the mosque and Hashemite guardianship of Muslim and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, he said.

Mustafa Al-Barghouti, secretary general of Palestinian National Initiative, argued that Israeli attacks on Al-Aqsa and Kobar and other towns prove that Israel is translating its racist Judaicisation laws into action on the ground. The people’s resistance shows it is an effective way to confront Israeli attacks. Al-Barghouti said the Zionist movement has begun the third phase of its plot. He explained the first phase began at the end of the 19th Century until 1948 by creating a Jewish presence in Palestine through settlements and expanding Jewish immigration until the declaration of an Israeli state.

The second phase focused on occupying the remainder of Palestine and repeating settlement expansion in Jerusalem and rest of the West Bank, while containing patriotic Palestinian uprisings and fuelling divisions to weaken the Palestinian front. Also, using the separation of Gaza and the West Bank to undermine the Palestinian demographic challenge to Jewish supremacist ambitions.

The third phase, which has now started, aims to erase all components of the Palestinian cause, including the right of return, Jerusalem, independence for a Palestinian state, finalising the displacement of as many Palestinians as possible from historic Palestine and normalising relations with Arabs at the expense of Palestine and its people.

Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Riyad Al-Malki said Israel’s continued aggression against Al-Aqsa Mosque and vicious assault on worshippers was premeditated and intentional. “Large groups of radical Jews raided the mosque under the protection of Israeli forces to carry out the assaults, oppression, violations and religious fascism, as everyone knows,” he said. “The occupation believes it has support and protection to carry out these provocative and serious violations, and it has enough political coverage from the US to escalate its aggressions against the first qiblah [direction for prayer] and third holiest shrine.”

Al-Malki added: “All our warnings, calls and demands for international intervention have failed, which shows the cowardice of the world community due to US intimidation and Israeli blackmail of anti-Semitism. The only thing left for us is to pursue a legal path until wrongs are corrected and Israeli war criminals are brought to justice.

On 27 July, occupation forces converted Al-Aqsa Mosque into a military barracks, putting it under siege, shutting it down for four hours and evacuating it. They beat and pushed worshippers, used sound bombs and rubber bullets. Religious and public figures called for a sit-in at the gates of Al-Aqsa until the doors are re-opened. Some 40 Palestinians were injured by shrapnel from sound bombs and rubber bullets.

As Israeli forces closed the mosque doors, reinforcements were sent to raid the southern prayer hall, arrested more than 20 youth there, and evacuated the women in the Dome of the Rock prayer hall.

Hundreds of protestors gathered in front of the shuttered gates, similar to last year’s sit-in, forcing the occupation that afternoon to re-open the doors a few hours later. Protestors dispersed and entered the mosque. At the doors of the mosque, religious and national figures declared an open sit-in and chanted religious slogans and hymns in the face of occupation barricades and heavily armed soldiers.

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