#Israeli forces have launched a violent attack on the Al-Aqsa mosque and compound in #Jerusalem. It resulted in over 170 #Palestinians wounded over the weekend and as many as 400 people detained within one hour in the largest mass arrest in over 20 years.
In addition to the now recurrent bouts of violence in the area, the overlap of the Muslim holy month of #Ramadan and the start of #Passover for Jews on Friday heightened the tensions between the Israeli and Palestinian sides.
Israeli authorities justified their first raid on Friday morning stating that “hundreds” of Palestinian demonstrators had gathered stones inside the mosque shortly before the arrival of Jewish visitors to the compound. However, this comes in light of Israel’s previously unverifiable accusations, unequal display of violence, non-existent de-escalation efforts, and their steadfast support to Settler and right-wing violence.
Videos currently circulating online show an uneven use of violence by the Israeli forces on the Palestinian population. Tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber bullets were used in and around Al-Aqsa indiscriminately, injuring people and damaging the religious complex.
While they possess sovereignty over this religious site (the third most important for Muslims worldwide), Palestinians in Jerusalem are still dependent on Israel for the compound’s security. This allows the Israeli police to impose entry restrictions on Palestinian worshipers, which are not applicable to Jews or tourists.
State-sanctioned visits by Israeli right-wing groups have for a long time been taken as a provocation toward Palestinians. While their rights pertaining movement and housing continue to be inhumanely limited, #Israel continues to promote the “Judaification” of all of Jerusalem, including the Al-Aqsa compound. This year, the far-right Jewish group Return to Temple Mount increased the tension by offering a cash prize to anyone who went into Al-Aqsa Mosque and sacrificed a goat, an ancient and now prohibited Jewish ritual. Though this did not happen, Palestinians are constantly taunted and terrorised by indications of an Israeli take-over their remaining places of worship and properties.
On 20 December 2021, the Israeli army approved a shooting policy allowing soldiers to open fire against Palestinian youth. Israel’s prime minister Naftali Bennett has also given the security forces “a free hand” in the use of violence toward demonstrators. These menacing policies and statement come on top of the already prevalent impunity regarding Palestinian victims.
For people in #Palestine and worldwide, this recent attack is a painful reminder of the #violence that led to the 11-day attack on #Gaza last year. This brutal operation, dubbed “Guardian of the Walls” by the IDF, resulted in 232 Palestinian casualties in the Strip alone and an additional 28 in the #WestBank. Unfortunately, 2022 has already proven to be more deadly for Palestinians as the number of casualties so far this year is 5 times that from the same period of 2021.
As an international community, we must all call out the escalation tactics used by the Israeli military and police force. We must condemn the provocative efforts of the Israeli government to incite violence against Palestinians with impunity.