Al-Aqsa Violence during Ramadan

21 Apr

[Prefatory Note: Responses to Questions of Javad Arabshirazi on upsurge of violence during Ramadan within the al-Aqsa Mosque Compound and throughout Occupied Palestine, April 19, 2022. Israel’s reliance on excessive force, collective punishment, and violent provocations is far from new, but its occurrence in the presence context suggests another pattern—an escalation of tensions prior to a large-scale military operation, most likely directed at two million entrapped civilian inhabitants of Gaza. Once more Israel strikes hard against Palestinian rights when the world has its attention fixed elsewhere, with a mainstream media posture of indifference and inattention compounding the problem . The pro-Palestinian solidarity movement is being seriously challenged not to let this happen.]

RQ#1: Israel has escalated its crackdown on Palestinians since the beginning of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, arresting a number of Palestinians in occupied East al-Quds, and desecrating al-Aqsa mosque. What is your take on this?

RAF Response: There is a toxic interaction taking place in Israeli/Palestinian relations in this period that involves the stabbings of a few Israelis followed by a typical punitive over-reaction on Israel’s part that amounts to the collective punishment of all Palestinians living under this regime of prolonged unlawful occupation. Al-Aqsa during Ramadan represents a flashpoint for both sides, and this year with the holy calendar of Jews, Muslims, and Christians overlapping, tensions were especially high, and further deliberately heightened by an outsized Israeli military presence within and surrounding the al-Aqsa mosque compound that was intended to intimidate worshipers, making clear once more the abusive hierarchy of relations that has long existed between Israelis and Palestinians. The wounding of more than 150 al-Aqsa worshippers in responding to Palestinian protestors and the arrest of several hundred others at the compound and throughout Palestinian territories should be seen for what it was, a provocative crackdown. Reliance on excessive force and violence against Palestinians by Israel in violation of its obligations under international law as the Occupying Power that requires Israel to uphold the freedom of religion and respect the human rights of Palestinians living under their administration is neither new nor acceptable.    

Q#2: Why do you think the international community has failed to condemn this? Where are “human rights defenders”?

RAF Response: Israel is partly taking advantage of the distraction on the part of many governments and the world media resulting from a preoccupation with the Ukraine War and its spillover effects. Also, unseemly Israeli ‘normalization’ diplomacy has been successful in blunting criticism of its actions and creating new positive relations with countries in the region and beyond. Israel has also effectively subdued criticism emanating from the UN as exhibited in its recent election to membership in ECOSOC. Israel has made clear that it is not interested in a political compromise with the Palestinians or any sort of diplomatic process that contains any expectations that a Palestinian state could emerge. As for ‘human rights defenders,’ their weakness to contest Israeli security policies has long been an operative part of the tragic Palestinian reality ever since 1967, although we should pause long enough to salute the bravery of those few who take life-threatening risks to protest Israel’s abusive behavior. It is notable that several months ago Benny Gantz, Israel’s Minister of Defense, issued a declaration stigmatizing the most respected and professionally rigorous human rights NGOs in Israel and the West Bank as ‘terrorist organizations.’ It was beyond disappointing that supposedly liberal governments of Europe and North American greeted this development with stony silence. 

Q#3: Tel Aviv has also imposed new restrictions on the Palestinian people’s entry into the mosque, and ordered the demolition of Palestinian homes and agricultural facilities. Isn’t it against international law?

RAF Response: Israel has consistently violated international law with no adverse consequences, and its conduct at al-Aqsa and elsewhere is all part of a deeply ingrained pattern of official behavior that reflects the fundamental character of Israel as an apartheid state. House demolitions and destruction of Palestinian farms and olive groves has been Israeli official policy for decades, making claims of being the only democracy in the Middle East a travesty. This assessment of apartheid has been supported during the last five years by a series of well-evidenced and carefully analyze reports prepared by mainstream NGOs in the West including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. Even this development, which should have sent shock waves at the UN and supporters of Israel resulted in no discernable impacts at the UN or among governments. Even the international discourse on the Palestinian/Israel interaction makes scant effort to notice, much less take action in response to Israel’s flagrant and repeated violations of the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people. The fate of the Palestinian people continues to rest where it has always been—on the stubborn resistance of the Palestinian people and the mobilization of global solidarity campaigns and civil society activism. The UN and most government may want to forget the Palestinian struggle or treat it as a lost cause, but the Palestinian people have shown over and over again that they will not cease their resistance nor should people of conscience the world over turn away from the persisting challenge to unite once more against apartheid, whose dismantling is an unconditional precondition for producing peace between these two embattled peoples.  

2 Responses to “Al-Aqsa Violence during Ramadan”

  1. Said Zulficar April 22, 2022 at 4:19 pm #

    An excellent and thoroughly truthful analysis.

  2. Sean Breathnach April 25, 2022 at 11:16 am #

    “Since 1967, the Palestinians have tried everything to free themselves from Israel’s brutal occupation. They tried armed resistance, which got them exiled from Arab states, paving the way for the Oslo Accords; they tried unarmed resistance, which got them media coverage but also jail time; they tried neoliberal economics, which got them aid money and nice cafes in Ramallah; and they tried diplomacy, joining international organizations and United Nations bodies as a state, which got them threats from Israel and the United States. Washington has long brokered peace negotiations under the flawed premise of two equal sides vying for the same piece of land. When President Donald Trump came to power, many Palestinian officials viewed him with guarded eagerness, holding out hope that his unpredictable shoot-from-the-hip style could translate into a win for them. They could not have been more wrong.”

    Thanks for this positive interview Professor.

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