After an Israeli settler extremist mob descended upon the old city of Jerusalem, attacking Palestinians and threatening to enter al-Aqsa mosque, Palestinians across the occupied territories have risen up in solidarity with Jerusalemites in what is being called the ‘Ramadan Intifada’.
This Thursday, what has been described as Israeli settler ‘lynch mobs’ took to the streets of Jerusalem chanting “death to Arabs”. The initial racist group of hundreds attempted to breach the old city through the Damascus Gate, but were met by hundreds of Palestinians who showed up ready to protect their businesses and homes, confronting the settlers. The settlers did later enter the old city, attempting to break into Palestinian homes in the early hours of the morning, causing children to cry out in fear.
The settler groups were not attacked but rather protected by Israeli occupation police, who quickly took to violently assaulting Palestinians with rubber-bullets, live-ammunition, riot police on horseback, stun grenades and gas canisters. This led to an escalation of clashes, which later erupted throughout occupied East Jerusalem as Israeli settlers rampaged through the streets attacking Palestinians, their homes and property. Approximately 100 Palestinians were confirmed injured as a result of the clashes with police and many others via settler violence, including an elderly woman who was hit in the eye after Israeli settlers attacked a moving bus.
In the early hours of Friday morning, an attempt was then made to prevent Palestinian worshippers from reaching the al-Aqsa Mosque – the third holiest site in Islam – and praying al-Fajr (morning prayer). However, thousands of Palestinians managed to push past the Israeli guards and successfully enter al-Aqsa.
The Third Intifada?
The events in Jerusalem did not pass by quietly, causing a unified reaction throughout the occupied Palestinian territories in solidarity with their Jerusalemite compatriots. Palestinian political parties from across the ideological spectrum condemned Israel’s actions. The Joint Room of Palestinian armed factions too vowed a response.
The responses to the attacks on Palestinians and the old city of Jerusalem came in all forms. At least 15 different locations across the West Bank and East Jerusalem became protest sites, many leading to confrontations with Israeli occupation forces.
The West Bank protests took place in the cities of Tulkarem, Nablus, Al-Khalil, Ramallah, Al-Bireh, Jericho, Bethlehem, Qalqilya and Qalandia in solidarity with Jerusalem. Umm al-Fahm located inside of Israeli territory also witnessed mass demonstrations.
Across the Gaza Strip protests also took place in Jabalia, Gaza City, Rafah, Khan Yunis and elsewhere, with demonstrators additionally showing up to the East’s separation fence. Israeli forces fired live ammunition at the night demonstrators, reportedly injuring three East of the Malaka area.
The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades – armed wing of the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) – also claimed rocket fire from Gaza in response to Israel’s action in Jerusalem. There were a total of 36 rockets fired at Israel, in a coordinated fashion, leading to Israeli airstrikes on several sites inside of the besieged Gaza Strip.
During the two days of protests inside Jerusalem alone, Israeli forces have arrested approximately 100 Palestinians and injured 450, according to local media sources.
Context Missed By Mainstream Western Press
What is going on, as a result of the attacks on Jerusalem’s Palestinian residents, is not to be viewed as just a reaction to the racist settler mob. This is an uprising against Israel’s ongoing illegal occupation and racist policies against Palestinians in general, with the settler extremist mob acting as the catalyst.
Since the beginning of the Muslim Holy Month of Ramadan, tensions have been rising between Israeli forces, illegal settlers and Palestinians. On the first day of Ramadan, last Tuesday, Israeli forces began instigating violence after shutting off loudspeakers inside the al-Aqsa compound – Islam’s third holiest site – also blocking off the Damascus Gate to Palestinians wishing to enter the Old City of Jerusalem.
The shutting down of Al-Aqsa’s loudspeakers, characterized as a “racist” attack against Palestinians, was explained to have occurred due to Israelis not wanting to be disturbed by the Muslim call to prayer and Imam’s in the al-Aqsa compound. ‘Israel’ was, at the time, running a commemoration event at the nearby Al Buraq Wall to memorialize their dead occupation soldiers.
After preventing Palestinians from entering the “Arab Quarter” of Jerusalem’s Old City, youths began to clash with occupation police who were blocking their access to Mosques for prayer and breaking their fasts. Israeli forces brought in the usage of tear gas, stun grenades, riot police on horseback and skunk water cannons in what was to become a nightly occurrence.
Israeli settlers had also gotten involved in fights with Palestinians during the course of clashes that had been occurring in the surrounding areas of the Old City. A video then began to circulate on social media of a Palestinian teen slapping a settler in the face on public transport, for which two Palestinians were later arrested. Israeli settlers then began storming the streets of Jerusalem – beginning conversations with strangers in order to gauge whether they had an Arabic accent – and attacking Palestinians. Israeli settler gangs posted their videos of their violent assaults of lone Palestinians on social media, bragging about what they had committed. On Monday, Israeli settler mobs began to take their attacks to the next level, rallying in the streets of Jerusalem chanting “death to Arabs”, then continuing from that point to assault Palestinians. The Palestinian community of East Jerusalem did not take these assaults, attacks on vehicles, and racist mob protests lightly, also choosing to confront and fight settlers. By Monday night, Palestinian local media had reported that at least 30 Palestinians had been arrested as a result of the ongoing tensions in the city during Ramadan.
What also has been missed by the mainstream Western Press is the ongoing acts of ethnic cleansing in East Jerusalem. Israeli settler organisations, working together with Israel’s courts – in accordance with Israel’s ‘Jerusalem 2000’ plan, as well as laws implemented by the government in the 1970’s – to expel some 2,100 Palestinians from the neighbourhoods of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan.
The Uprising Continues
Despite attempts by ‘Israel’ to pin this uprising singularly on the extremist settlers, the uprising represents years of Palestinian frustrations and despair finally breaking through to the surface in a coherent and organised way.
The US State Department has expressed its concern over recent events pertaining to Jerusalem and ‘Israel’ has actively tried to prevent a Palestinian uprising, but the energy awoken in the occupied territories is not going anywhere.
The Palestinian people are tired of suffering in silence, they have been suffering from a lack of motivation and divisions, now this seems to be ending. This is perhaps the first time since around 2005 that this energy has been reverberating throughout the occupied territories and the Palestinian armed factions in Gaza are now stronger than ever.
‘Israel’s’ ultra-right wing government has long refused to even consider engaging the Palestinian leadership in order to seek any solution and the people of Palestine have been for long fed up. ‘Israel’ may try hard to prevent this from escalating and we will see many different tricks brought out in order to try and divide people, or shift focus elsewhere, but it is clear that the mood has dramatically changed in the occupied territories.
The Palestinian cause has now entered a new phase in the conflict with ‘Israel’; there have now been new redlines drawn and a unified spirit of resistance. Just like was the case with the first Intifada, it took one event to spark the collective outrage of the Palestinian people at what was being done to them.
Even if this does not lead to a full out Intifada or war with ‘Israel’, which looks like the most likely results of recent events, the rules of engagement have now changed and a new era has just been ushered in.