Who’s paying attention to Israel’s unspeakable atrocities

Palestine Update 545


Who’s paying attention to Israel’s unspeakable atrocities
Political strains in Palestine and Israel have dramatically mounted over the past few weeks. Israel’s brutalities on Palestinians are ascending. The ferocity of Israeli attacks has not, in any way, subjugated Palestinian resistance. Palestinians have escalated their resistance and youth are a big part of this confrontation. If the IOF had hoped to silence dissent and edge out the Palestinian struggle, they simply did not anticipate the fury that the Israel’s army contentious attacks would generate. Everyday counter attacks from Palestinians have grabbed the calm that Israelis hoped to impose.

In the last week alone, Israeli forces viscously invaded the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque injuring 152 and arresting over 400 Palestinians. Israel’s rather lame reasoning for the Al-Aqsa attack was that they needed to extract revenge for Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians in the very heart of Israel. For Israel, it is as if the attacks in the West Bank and Gaza are but natural and needing to be condoned. Israeli attacks on Palestinians are meant to be accepted as justified reason for punishment of their belligerence.

Israel attacked the worshipers on the pretext of celebrating the Jewish Passover to enter the Al Aqsa. (It remains a groundless claim that Solomon’s Temple is located under the Al-Aqsa Mosque). WAFA, the Palestinian news and information agency reports today: “For the fifth day in a row, Israeli police stormed this morning Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam’s holiest sites located in occupied East Jerusalem, in order to secure the provocative presence of Jewish fanatic groups at the holy compound, according to witnesses….police used force and firepower to evacuate the yards of the mosque compound from the Palestinian worshippers causing several injuries from beating and suffocation from tear gas fired by the police. Muslim men and women worshippers were forced to go inside the buildings of the compound and to stay there until the Jewish groups finish their tours a few hours later. Large numbers of Jews were allowed by the police to storm Al-Aqsa Mosque compound during the Jewish Passover holiday, which ends on Saturday, causing serious friction with the Palestinian worshippers that often got violent”.

Palestinians refuse to bow down in the face of multiple political humiliations. The summit between foreign ministers of the four Arab countries of Egypt, Bahrain, Morocco and the UAE with their Israeli and American counterparts in the occupied Negev prompted the Palestinian resistance to launch five assaults coincidental to the occasion and in the proximity of its location in southern Tel Aviv. A number of Israelis were killed in the attacks.  Palestinian fighters conducted their operations despite the high alert which Israelis are maintaining.

The political response of Palestinians is viewed as a new intifada. It seemingly differs in strategy from the First and second Intifadas. Palestinians are not simply demonstrating and sloganeering. They are seeking to change the ground reality by carrying out anti-Israeli attacks on the ground. With Global Quds Day coming up to coincide with the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan, the situation could well set off serious clashes. Regardless of how it is categorized, it would seem that a new stage in the conflict has begun. The clouds of war are on the horizon.  The mood of Palestinian fighters and the emboldened determination of Hamas are causing worry to Israeli forces. Moreover, the tit-for-tat violence leaves Israel with a huge security challenge.

The eyes of the international community, particularly the West, are on Ukraine and Russia. Palestine and Israel are not a distraction they wish to have especially when things are not going well for them on the Ukraine-Russia front.

One voice that has articulated disagreement with the ongoing violence and made a push for peace comes from Ireland. Chris MacManus, a Sin Fein Member of the European Parliament from Ireland, has called on the International Community not to give up on peace in Palestine. Expressing concern at the situation at happenings in Gaza and Jerusalem, he noted that in the absence of a lasting solution to the conflict, regular eruptions of violence are all but certain. He added: “In what is an important time of the year for Christianity, Judaism and Islam, the message of reconciliation should be front and centre”. This call to reconciliation must be preceded by justice as the foundation.

Is the world paying attention?

Ranjan Solomon

Palestinian Anti-Air Defenses Force Israeli Warplanes to Leave Gaza

Israeli warplanes launched airstrikes on the city of Khan Yunis in southern besieged Gaza Strip but had to leave after being confronted by anti-air defenses of the Hamas resistance movement. Israeli jets fired three missiles at the al-Qadisiyah district. The aircraft, however, had to leave after being confronted by anti-air defenses of the Hamas movement. “Our air defenses confronted the occupation’s aircraft with surface-to-air missiles.

The Palestinian Shehab news agency shared on its Twitter account video clips showing the moment Israeli jets were targeted. Israeli authorities said  airstrikes were conducted in response to a rocket fired into the occupied territories from the besieged Gaza strip.

Israeli military said sirens sounded in areas near the fence erected by the regime to separate Gaza from the occupied territories. The military later claimed that its Iron Dome missile systems had intercepted a projectile fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel. The developments come amid a rise in violent attacks by Israeli troops and settlers across the Palestinian territories since the beginning of Ramadan. Israeli troops raided the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, firing sound bombs and rubber bullets at worshipers. According to the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRSC), at least 152 fasting Palestinians were injured in the raids. Since March 22, dozens of Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank where prime minister Naftali Bennett has given Israeli forces a free hand to target Palestinians.

Rights group urges UN experts and rapporteurs to hold Israel accountable for its extra-judicial killing of Palestinians

The Ramallah-based Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) urged United Nations experts and rapporteurs, including the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, to hold Israel accountable for its extra-judicial killing of Palestinians that left 41 men and women dead since the beginning of 2022. It also called on the UN experts and rapporteurs to use all available means to pressure Israel, the occupying Power, to put an end to its practices against and targeting the lives of Palestinians.

“On a daily, systematic, and widespread basis, Israel, the occupying Power, continues to violate Palestinian rights and use excessive force against unarmed Palestinian civilians throughout the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt),” it said in its urgent appeal. “The Israeli occupying forces (IOF) shoot to kill Palestinians, who are protected under the International Humanitarian Law (IHL). Particularly at military checkpoints and at their own discretion, Israeli troops open fire on suspected and wanted persons. Over the past period, the IOF has targeted and taken the lives of many Palestinians, including children and women, at checkpoints. in the absence of imminent danger to the lives of Israeli soldiers. These Palestinians were killed allegedly because they attempted to carry out operations or on grounds of mere suspicion.”

The ICHR mentioned the example of the 10 April killing of Ghada Ibrahim Sabateen, a 47-year-old Palestinian widow and mother of six children, near an Israeli flying checkpoint at the eastern entrance to Husan village, west of the southern West Bank district of Bethlehem. “Ghada was directly targeted without any justification,” it said, adding that a soldier opened fire and wounded her and then left her on the ground for a long time while not allowing anyone to help her until she bled to death. On the same day, Maha al-Za’tari, a female citizen of Hebron city, was targeted and killed in cold blood, without any justification.

“Since the beginning of 2022, using excessive force in miscellaneous incidents across the occupied West Bank, the IOF killed 41 Palestinians, including six children and two women. Excessive force has been used in various cases, including disruption of peaceful assemblies. In some incidents, citizens who had not been involved in any hostilities were extra-judicially killed in grave violation of their rights and protection enshrined in the IHL” said the Independent Commission, stressing that “willful killing constitutes a war crime….These crimes are hailed by the Israeli political and military levels. In a statement released in late 2021, the IOF granted full right to soldiers to respond with live fire if they presume a danger to their lives. This has given a green light to extra-judicially kill and take the lives of Palestinians,” said the rights organization.

ICHR urged the UN experts and rapporteurs to investigate the Israeli violations and targeting of Palestinian lives and bring to an end these Israeli practices. “Necessary pressure should be applied to Israel to make sure that it honors its respective obligations and provides protection to Palestinian civilians throughout the oPt.” It further called on them “to denounce the targeting and cold-blooded murder of Palestinians,” and urged the UN Member States “to bear their full responsibilities as third party States, put into operation the use of universal jurisdiction mechanisms to achieve international justice, prosecute and hold to account persons charged with committing grave violations of the IHL.” The ICHR called for launching an investigation into Israeli violations by the International Criminal Court, focusing on the root causes that contribute to continuing Israeli violations of Palestinian rights. “Action needs to be taken to end the protracted Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory. The Palestinian people should be empowered to exercise their right to self-determination, guaranteed by the principles of International Law.”

Palestine needs immediate attention to stave off a major food crisis

Food prices in the besieged territory have rocketed in recent weeks. Already impoverished families are struggling to put food on the table. “Food prices are surging dramatically,” he explained, “particularly since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war.” The prices of essential food items, such as wheat and meat, have nearly doubled. The price of a chicken, for example, which was in any case only affordable by a small segment of Gaza’s population, has increased from 20 shekels (approximately $6) to 45NIS (around $14). Such price hikes may be manageable in some parts of the world, but in an already near destitute society, which has been under a hermetic Israeli military siege for 15 years, a major food crisis is certainly forthcoming.

 International charity Oxfam warned of this on 11 April when it reported that food prices across occupied Palestine have jumped by 25 per cent and, more alarmingly, wheat flour reserves in the Occupied Palestinian Territories could be “exhausted within three weeks”. The impact of the Russia-Ukraine war has been felt around the world, in some places more than others. African and Middle Eastern countries, which have been battling poverty, hunger and unemployment for years, are the most affected.

 A new awakening shines from Jerusalem

A new awakening is shining from occupied Jerusalem. It started with the advent of the holy month of Ramadan and is removing the sense of despair that has descended upon the Muslim world. This new dawn brings hope and the certainty of ultimate victory.

The Palestinians surprise people every year as, with sickening regularity, the Israeli occupation forces attack them during the Blessed Month, especially in the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa. The attacks were more widespread last year, when the “Sword of Jerusalem” battle took place. This came to mind when heavily armed Zionist occupation forces stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque, emptied it of worshippers in a brutal way, closed all of its gates and placed iron barricades at Bab Al-Amud Gate following calls by extremist Jewish settlers to storm the mosque and slaughter goats to “celebrate” Passover.

The occupation authorities have banned the Islamic Movement in Israel led by Sheikh Raed Salah since 2015, and banned the bus convoys carrying Palestinian worshippers to Al-Aqsa Mosque. Institutions serving the mosque were also banned, which convinces me more than ever that the occupation forces work in collusion with the extremist settler groups, especially under the current right-wing Israeli government. However, the Palestinians have recorded a new epic to be added to their heroic record by countering the Israelis and forcing them to open the gates of Al-Aqsa Mosque. They succeeded after violent confrontations, which led to more than 150 being injured by steel-coated rubber bullets and tear gas fired by Israeli troops. More than 400 worshippers were arrested, most of them from the Palestinian land occupied since 1948. This is an important point, because resistance to the Israeli occupation is no longer limited to the besieged Gaza Strip; it covers all of the occupied Palestinian territories, including Israel.

The occupation government believed that it could neutralize its Palestinian citizens with a façade of advantages of which the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are deprived. The latter are deterred from resistance by the treacherous Palestinian Authority security forces owned by Israel. This was also evident two weeks before the storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque, when four resistance operations targeted the major occupation cities of Tel Aviv, Beersheba, Hadera and Bnei Brak, away from the prying eyes of the PA security forces which coordinate their work with the Zionist enemies to track, detain and imprison Palestinian resistance fighters, and even peaceful anti-occupation activists.

Israel’s al-Aqsa aggression risks an intifada it would be unable to contain

Political paralysis coupled with messianic pressure from the right is creating a situation in Israel and Palestine that could become uncontrollable

Since the Second Intifada began to wind down early in 2005, every few months or years we hear that a Third Intifada has begun or is about to. There was the “lone wolf intifada” (also called the “knife intifada”) in 2015, featuring actions by individual Palestinians and targeting mainly Israeli soldiers and settlers; the massive March of Return in 2018 when Gaza residents walked together toward the fence that cages them inside the Strip; the civil disturbances of May 2021 that began with escalating violence in East Jerusalem and spread to Gaza and mixed Jewish-Palestinian cities within Israel.All that activity did indeed signal increasing violence and lethality in the simmering conflict but, ultimately, did not end in a general Palestinian uprising comparable to the First and Second Intifadas.

Caution is certainly merited before declaring that we are on the verge of a Third Intifada. Yes, clearly there are elements reminiscent of earlier uprisings: a series of attacks by Palestinians within the Green Line; intensive Israeli military operations in the West Bank, mainly in its northern areas; more than 10 Israelis killed, nearly all civilians, and more than 15 Palestinians shot dead, nearly all civilians not involved in fighting. Meanwhile, there are broader-than-usual hostilities in West Bank cities; protests at al-Aqsa and the incursion by Israeli police into the mosque’s prayer hall itself. Discussions of a new intifada generally focus on the situation in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. This is the right perspective, because intifadas are first and foremost a Palestinian response to the occupation. Meanwhile, however, a look at the Israeli side is also worthwhile; the Israeli side is in a very problematical situation, politically.

Israeli paralysis
The First Intifada broke out when Israel had a so-called national unity government of Likud and the Labor Party. Yitzhak Shamir of Likud was prime minister, and Yitzhak Rabin of Labor was defence minister. National unity governments are generally a prescription for paralysis, since they rely on the notion that what is important is that Jews from the right and the left be in agreement, by virtue of avoiding “political” matters like the occupation and the settlements.The Bennett-Lapid-Gantz government is in this sense reminiscent of Shamir and Rabin’s. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett set the tone when he declared a short while after taking office that there would be “no diplomatic process with the Palestinians”. Yair Lapid adopted this logic fully when he declared that, on rotating into the prime minister’s job, he too would refrain from any such diplomatic process. What remains, then, is to maintain the occupation, as overseen by Defence Minister Benny Gantz, who has relegated the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to a sub-department of Palestinian affairs in his ministry. But while the Shamir-Rabin government was built on a balance between “the right” and “the left,” the situation in the Bennett-Lapid government is oddly different. The coalition has a clear centre-left majority, and even includes an Arab-Islamic party for the first time in Israel’s history, yet the government is headed by an extreme rightist and most of the more sensitive ministries, such as justice and interior, are also led by figures who are decidedly right wing.

That’s not all. The parliamentary opposition to this government is very large and can no longer be termed “rightist” in the sense Israelis are accustomed to. This right-wing opposition sanctifies Jewish supremacy and the primacy of a “Jewish state” over “a state of all its citizens,” that is, over democracy. Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the official leader of this right wing, but its most prominent figures are Bezalel Smotrich, who heads the Religious Zionist Party and has explicitly declared that Arabs are not entitled to be part of the government or even to sit in parliament, and Itamar Ben-Gvir, who was convicted in the past of right-wing terrorist activity and belonged to a movement calling for the expulsion of Palestinians from the territories under Israel’s control.

These right-wing parties currently hold more than 50 seats in parliament (out of the 120 in Israel’s legislature), and public opinion polls give right-wing parties nearly 50 percent in a new election. Thus we find ourselves in a situation in which the far right is both inside the government and outside of it, while there is no real balance in the government itself. The Zionist “left” parties – Meretz and Labor – relinquished at the outset any attempt to influence the government’s political platform. Centrist party leaders Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid and Benny Gantz of Blue and White are standing on the sidelines, and Mansour Abbas, who heads Raam, the conservative Islamic party that joined the coalition, has completely adopted – at least prior to the police raid on al-Aqsa on Friday – the Bennett-esque philosophy that “we will not be discussing the conflict”. To this we must add the accelerating fusion of the military and the settlers, certainly the army serving in the West Bank and reinforcing the occupation on a daily basis.

Israel Police Block Route as Hundreds Begin Marching Towards Jerusalem’s Muslim Quarter

People gather for a right-wing march in Jerusalem's Safra Square, on Wednesday

Hamas says Israel should bear full responsibility for the consequences of what it called dangerous and provocative moves

Israel police blocked the route to Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate on Wednesday as hundreds of right-wing activists defied police orders and began marching toward the Old City’s Muslim Quarter.

Right-wing organizers blamed the government for the ban on holding the Flag March, rejecting the police claim that they had initially agreed to hold the march along an alternative route and then went back on the agreement.

“We will follow a route planned through the Old City, and hope the police will be brave and accompany the march,” they said. “In any case, the police cannot stop people from walking with a flag to the Western Wall in the territories of the State of Israel. There is no such order.”