Violence and aggression toward Palestinians by Israeli police, soldiers, and settlers is unforgivably common, but so rarely covered by the mainstream Western press – it’s like its happening on another planet. In the last few weeks, both these things have been as true as ever, at an even higher, more troubling level.
As of Wednesday, October 7, 800 Palestinians had been injured by Israeli police since Saturday, October 2, including over sixty with live fire. Several Palestinians, including at least one child, have also been murdered by Israeli security officials during this time. As of October 8, the Palestinian Red Crescent has claimed the casualty numbers have climbed even higher:
— Conflict News (@Conflicts) October 8, 2015
Jerusalem’s Old City, which has been occupied by Israel since 1967, is at the heart of this latest conflagration. Over the last few months, the Old City has become a battleground for Israeli settlers, hell bent on securing total control of all of Occupied Palestine. Al Jazeera English’s Mike Hanna explains this phenomenon, drawing parallels to Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Al Aqsa compound in October 2000, which sparked the Second Intifada:
Moving 15 years forward, I am once again outside the walls of the Old City, watching Palestinian after Palestinian being turned away by heavily armed police officers at every point of access. The total lockdown of the entire Old City to all but Palestinians who live or own businesses within the walls is unprecedented, it was never done even at the height of both Intifadas. Jewish Israeli citizens along with tourists, though, maintain their full access, and some choose to ignore the religious injunction and retrace Sharon’s footsteps and visit the al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
It’s significant that the vast majority of those I observe on the walk are also wearing the kippa skull cap that, while denoting faith, has also become the signature headwear of those in the hardline settler movement.
The settler movement may well be seeking its own Sharon moment; after all, what was once a fringe movement is now mainstream. And it is likely to gain even more support and legitimacy in the eyes of the wider Israeli public arguing for a right to the Old City than it would for some remote hilltop in the West Bank. In this thesis, the al-Aqsa Mosque compound has become the focal point of a settler movement seeking full control of all Occupied Territory.
This trend is likely to continue. Because the Israeli Occupation, the source of so much violence in Israel-Palestine, continues.
Countless Palestinian towns have already been living under siege; what little peace there was is now being turned upside down. The lives of those living in Palestine, particularly the young and male, are being damaged and cut short, at even faster rates than usual.
Lives like that of Fadi Alloun
The nineteen-year-old Jerusalemite was shot dead by Israeli police on October 4. At the time of his death, Alloun was unarmed and being chased by screaming settlers, who were inciting the police to execute him. After they achieved their objective and Alloun lay dying on the ground, the settlers celebrated with chants of “Death to Arabs.”
According to reports, Alloun was running toward the police, seeking protection from the settlers pursuing him:
The young man’s death came amidst several days of intensifying attacks against Palestinians.
Two weeks before, twenty-one year old, Diaa Talameh, was also killed by Israeli officials
Israeli soldiers repotedly shot the young Palestinian man to death in Hebron on September 21, 2015. His death may have been one of the immediate triggers for current clashes.
— Lana (@lana_palestine) September 22, 2015
Alloun was originally from the East Jerusalem village of Issawia, which erupted at the news of Alloun’s killing
Israeli security officials cracked down harshly on the protesters.
On the evening of October 6, Israeli settlers once again took their rage out against a Palestinian man from Issawia
Across East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Israel proper, Palestinians have stood in solidarity with their injured and slain compatriots
Clashes have broken out in various cities from Hebron to Bethlehem, with Israeli soldiers showing no mercy.
Israeli troops have attacked old women
Arrested Palestinian toddlers for throwing stones
— Omar Ghraieb (@Omar_Gaza) October 5, 2015
Used rubber-coated bullets against Palestinian protesters
Used exploding or “dumdum” bullets against civilians, which are illegal under international law
According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, the use of bullets that explode in the human body is prohibited under customary international law, which binds all states.
— Abbas Sarsour (@iFalasteen) October 6, 2015
Gunned down Palestinian protesters at point-blank range
And attacked Palestinian journalists (including in the face)
Palestinians in Israel have been targeted as well
This video shows Israeli security beating a Palestinian man in Jaffa
In Bethlehem, Israeli troops killed thirteen-year-old Abdul Rahman Obeidullah, on October 5, and twenty-year-old Wisam Faraj, on October 8
Obeidullah was from Aida refugee campe, and Faraj from Shufat refugee camp, in Bethlehem. Obeidullah was killed by an Israeli sniper. According to Maan News, Faraj was “shot in the heart” with an exploding bullet.
In Tulkarem, eighteen-year old Huthaifa Sulaiman was killed on October 5
As it always does, Israel is using this flare up to change the facts on the ground
Turning the chaos to its own advantage, the Israeli government is setting up security checkpoints in the Old City of Jerusalem, at the entrance to the Al Aqsa compound, further inhibiting Palestinian movement within the city and increasing the sense of fear and siege amongst Palestinians. The Al Aqsa compound was one of the few places in Jerusalem where Palestinians could gather in public, without being harassed by settlers or police.
As they did on the night of Fadi Alloun’s death, settlers continue to chant “Death to Arabs” through the streets of Jerusalem
Continuing with their provocations, Israeli settlers once again stormed Al Aqsa compound on October 8
They were backed by armed Israeli security forces.
West Jerusalem mayor, Nir Barakat, has told settlers to come out onto the streets with their guns
According to the Palestine News Network, Barakat announced on Israeli radio, on October 8, that settlers should “[c]ome out today with your licensed guns, for those who know how to use it, that’s what needed right now.”
For the Palestinians, there is no relinquishing their homeland or allowing the Israeli government or settlers to rip Jerusalem away.
Under siege, they are determined to stand their ground, claim their rights, and assert their humanity.