The Attack on Al Aqsa – as Settlers Plan its Division

The Attack on Al Aqsa – as Settlers Plan its Division

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Post-Blog

Netanyahu seeks to impose a new reality at Al-Aqsa

Jonathan Cook
5
October 2015
Al Aqsa mosque

Since
a boy named David slew the giant Goliath with a slingshot, the stone has served
as an enduring symbol of how the weak can defeat an oppressor.

For
the past month Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has tried to rewrite
the Bible story by declaring war on what he terms Palestinian “terrorism by
stones”.
Palestinian youth throw stones at Israeli police goons
There
are echoes of Yitzhak Rabin’s response nearly 30 years ago when, as defence
minister, he ordered soldiers to “break bones” to stop a Palestinian uprising,
often referred to as the “intifada of stones”, against the Israeli occupation.
Al Aqsa Mosque
Terrified
by the symbolism of women and children throwing stones at one of the world’s
strongest armies, Rabin hoped broken arms would deprive Palestinians of the
power to wield their lowly weapon.
Israeli border police thugs in action
Now
the West Bank and Jerusalem are on fire again, as Palestinian youths clash with
the same oppressors. Reports suggest soldiers killed one Palestinian youth and
injured more than 100 others on Sunday alone.
The
touchpaper is Israel’s transgressions at the al-Aqsa mosque compound, known as
Haram Al Sharif, in Jerusalem’s Old City. During the weeks of Israel’s high
holidays, tensions have risen sharply. Israeli government ministers and ever
larger numbers of Jewish ultra-nationalists, backed by paramilitary forces,
have been ascending to the mosque area.
Police and military deliberately damage mosque
In
parallel, Palestinian access has been restricted and settlers have stepped up
seizures of homes in occupied East Jerusalem to encircle al-Aqsa.
Palestinians
believe Israel is asserting control over the site to change the status quo.
Israel
refers to the Haram as the Temple Mount, because the ruins of two ancient
Jewish temples supposedly lie underneath. As Israel has swung to the right
politically and religiously, government and settler circles have been swept by
an aggressive Jewish messianism.
Palestinian
efforts to resist have been limited. Israel has long barred Palestinian
factions and organisations from any dealings in the city it calls its “eternal capital”.
The
situation at al-Aqsa has come to symbolise the Palestinian story of
dispossession.
The
mosque has also served as a red line, both because it is a powerful cause that
unites all Palestinians, including Christians and the secular, and because it
rallies the wider Arab world to the Palestinians’ side.
But
like Goliath, the Israeli prime minister appears to assume greater force will
win.
First,
he outlawed last month a group of Islamic students, many of them women, known
as the Murabitoun, stationed at Al Aqsa. They had not even resorted to stones.
Their crime was to try to deter Jewish extremists from praying at the site by
crying “God is great”.
Then,
Israeli police stormed the compound to evict youths who had barricaded
themselves in. Severe restrictions on access to al-Aqsa followed.
As
youngsters took to the streets, Netanyahu authorised live fire against
stone-throwers in Jerusalem, and minimum four-year jail sentences for those
arrested.
Predictably,
violence has not calmed but spiralled. On Saturday night a Palestinian youth
stabbed to death two Jewish settlers who had been visiting the Western Wall,
near al-Aqsa.
Israel
has described such incidents as “lone-wolf attacks”. In truth, these
unpredictable outbursts of violence are the inevitable result of the orphaned
status of Palestinians in Jerusalem.
Israel
responded with another unprecedented move. Palestinians were banned from the
Old City for the following 48 hours unless they lived or worked there. Israel’s
track record suggests this will soon become the new norm.
Netanyahu
also approved fast-track demolitions of Palestinian homes, more soldiers in
Jerusalem and even tighter restrictions at al-Aqsa.

So
where is this heading?
Doubtless,
Netanyahu is in part proving his credentials to an ever more religious and
intolerant Israeli public. After Saturday’s deaths, Jewish mobs once again
patrolled Jerusalem’s streets seeking vengeance.
But
he is also cynically exploiting western fears to reinvent the David and Goliath
story. He hopes the words “Islamic terrorism” – conjuring up ISIL’s threats to
religious freedom – will scotch western sympathy for Palestinian youths facing
armed soldiers.
Mahmoud
Abbas, the Palestinian president, warned in his speech to the UN last week that
Israeli measures were “aimed at imposing a new reality and dividing Haram Al
Sharif temporally”.
These
are not idle fears. In 1994 Israel capitalised on a horrific massacre of
Palestinians perpetrated by a Jewish settler at the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron
to justify dividing it. Today, Jews have prayer rights at the site, enforced by
Israeli guns, and central Hebron has been turned into a ghost-town – much as
Jerusalem’s Old City looks since the weekend ban on entry for Palestinians.
Most
Palestinians fear an Israeli-engineered spiral of violence will be used to
impose a similar division at al-Aqsa. There is little Abbas can do. His
Palestinian Authority is barred from Jerusalem and committed to helping Israeli
security elsewhere. Like the Muslim world, he watches helplessly from afar.
Which
is why Palestinian youths will continue reaching for the humble stone, exerting
what little power they have against a modern Goliath.

 

 

 

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