The Recent Wave of Conflict Between Israel and Palestine
By admin July 25, 2017

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On Tuesday, July 25th, the Israeli cabinet moved to switch from the use of metal detectors to security cameras at the Al Aqsa Mosque. The metal detectors had sparked a great degree of opposition from Palestinian worshipers.

A wave of violence erupted between Israel, Palestine, and Jordan in the past two weeks. The violence started on July 14th when three Arab citizens of Israel attacked two Israeli police officers in the Old City of Jerusalem. The assailants stabbed the officers to death outside of the Al Aqsa Mosque then fled inside. Other officers followed them inside and opened fire, killing all three perpetrators. The New York Times reports that, “Attacks by Arab citizens of Israel, who also identify as Palestinian nationals, have been much rarer.”

The site is what Arabs regard as a Holy Sanctuary and Jews regard as the Temple Mount. Palestinians and Jordanians have long disputed the Old City and its land rights. East Jerusalem, along with its holy sites, was annexed from Jordan after the 1967 war, an act that was never internationally recognized. Under the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty of 1994, Jordan has the special right to administer the holy area.

However, Israeli forces have put restrictions on Muslims from accessing the area several times in the past. After the incident, Israeli forces evacuated and closed the compound. The Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, called PM Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to condemn the attack and plea for the reopening of the site.

Over Twitter and Facebook, Abbas, the leader of the mainstream Palestinian movement Fatah, called for Palestinians to pray in front of the gates of the mosque in protest. The Israeli police force called the large turn out “extraordinary and extreme,” emphasizing the delicacy of the situation.

Sheikh Mohamed Hussein and one other cleric have been detained. The sheikh says, “The occupation preventing us from praying marks an assault against our right to worship in this pure Islamic mosque.”

When the restriction on the holy site was lifted, the Israeli government enforced the use of metal detectors upon entrance. This brought along the second wave of violence. On Friday, July 21st, six people were killed. A group of three Palestinians murdered three Israeli civilians in their home. Later Israeli officers shot the three assailants. One of the attackers posted a final message on Facebook saying, “I am a young man who has not yet reached the age of 20, I have many dreams and ambitions!! I loved life — to draw the smile on people’s faces. But what life is this when our women and young men are killed unjustly and our Aqsa is facing desecration.” Palestinian movement leaders called for protesters to pray in front of the gates until the detectors were removed. Many have said that the detectors are a symbol of control over the holy site, which has caused a significant amount of aggression. The Israeli cabinet decided to keep the detectors in a meeting last week, despite advice from various security organizations, including Israel’s security services. Demonstrators say that they feel the detectors are humiliating and seen as a provocation from Israel. Reports say that those who voted against the added security, like the Israeli minister of housing, felt it was unnecessary and used as a justification for opposition.

Hizb Ul Tahrir-organized rally throughout the Manara, the city center of Ramallah. Credit: Rami Kablawi

Outside the Old City, some protesters employed more violent means of expressing frustration. Participants threw rocks and firebombs towards police, which prompted the authorities to fire back. The Palestinian news outlet Maan reports that 450 Palestinians were injured at the protests and, 49 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis in 2017, 14 of whom in the month of July alone.” A video of the protests, depicting an Israeli officer kicking a man praying and tear gas fueled combat, can be seen here.

Israeli relationship with Jordan has also been put under strain after a fatal encounter at the Israeli embassy. A Jordanian man contracted for service work at the embassy stabbed a security officer with a screwdriver, mildly injuring him. The details of the story are unclear due to the sparse information both governments are releasing. The security guard “defended himself,” but how he did so remains vague. The Jordanian man was shot dead later.

The United Nations condemned the murder of three young Palestinian men by an Israeli settler and called for an investigation. The UN envoy to the Middle East said in a statement on Monday, that the crisis at the mosque must be resolved by Friday or else there will be “potential catastrophic costs well beyond the walls of the Old City”.

Further Reading:

Aqsa Mosque Dispute Strains Israeli-Jordanian Alliance

2 Israeli Police Officers Killed in Attack in Old City of Jerusalem

Israel removes Jerusalem metal detectors, Palestinians reject new measures

Israel refuses to remove metal detectors from mosque despite rising violence

3 Palestinians killed in Al-Aqsa clashes in Jerusalem, West Bank

Al-Aqsa: Palestinians killed as Jerusalem protests rage

Al-Aqsa: UN slams Israel killings of young Palestinians


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