The latest violence in Jerusalem is followed by a series of tensions that have been boiling over for a month. Scores ended up getting injured following an attack on Al Aqsa Mosque by Israeli forces. The disturbing videos were making rounds on social media in which security forces were seen firing stun grenades and rubber bullets at unarmed civilians, who also threw rocks at the police. Later Israeli forces carried out an airstrike on Gaza when Hamas fired several rockets on Israel. According to reports, Israeli police stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Monday (10th May) and attacked the Palestinians who were guarding the site to prevent extremist Jews from raiding.
Around 300 Palestinians were injured in Al Aqsa Mosque, and 20 died including children as a result of Israeli airstrikes. On the other, more than 20 police officials have been injured. The situation is currently developing but the news of escalating clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces have raised international concerns.
Here are 5 facts to understand what’s going on Jerusalem regarding Israel and Palestine’s 100-year-old conflict.
Extremists Planning Attack on Al Aqsa Mosque
Extremist Jews announced to attack on Al Aqsa Mosque in commemoration of 1967 war when Israel occupied East Jerusalem, West Bank, Gaza, Golan Heights, and Sinai Peninsula. According to Hebrew calendar, they were trying to celebrate “Jerusalem Day” which they described as the anniversary of that war.
Thousands of Palestinians staged protests around the Al-Aqsa Mosque after the dawn prayers and stood guard against the potential attack. However, fully equipped Israeli police raided before the extremists and engaged in a combat with the guards. Reports came that Israeli forces started attacking Palestinians randomly which also included women.
Israel is recently being named as an apartheid state because of its human rights violations against Palestinians. A report by Human Rights Watch has explained the Israeli oppression in detail.
The Century-Old Issue of Palestinian Land
The land of Palestine came under the control of Great Britain after the defeat of Ottoman Empire in World War I. The land was populated by Arab majority and Jewish minority. When international community asked Britain to establish national homes for Jews in Palestine, the conflicts started between both religious groups. Jews claimed the land as their ancestral home but Palestine claimed it as theirs and opposed the move. Similarly, with Al Aqsa Mosque, Muslims claim the site as their noble sanctuary while Jews say that it is their Temple Mount.
Every plan to encourage peace between the two groups has failed through the years. Even this time the police ensured that they banned Jewish groups from visiting holy plaza (which includes Al Aqsa Mosque) during Jerusalem Day march. Yet, thousands of young men and women were seen waving Israel’s flag while walking through Damascus Gate and Muslim Quarter. Reportedly, the police were considering to reroute the traditional march before there was sudden attack on Al Aqsa Mosque. After the airstrikes, Israeli forces again led an attack on Al Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan prayer in the night time.
Meanwhile, airstrikes were going on in Gaza where Israeli forces were trying to wipe out Hamas. In last year’s bombing against Hamas, Israel destroyed the only power plant in Gaza.
Barriers of Peace
Jews and Arabs both have blamed each other since the conflict started over the land, which mainly includes Jerusalem. Just like Jews, the city is also very important to Muslims as it is a home to Al Aqsa Mosque, the first Qiblah of Muslims, to which they turned their direction for prayers before Mecca. Israel views all of Jerusalem as its capital and most part of international community does not recognize its claim.
The militant group Hamas warned Israeli forces to stop their attack on Al Aqsa Mosque or face consequences. Israel failed remove the forces before deadline and Hamas fired around 150 rockets in the Jerusalem area, forcing the flag-weaving young Israelis to flee. Most of the rockets were intercepted by the missile defense system and only one house was hit.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exclaimed that Israel will respond forcefully and attackers will pay a heavy price. So, it did with air raids killing 20 civilians in Gaza which also included kids. Most of the international community is starting to feel like that the hope for peace has overstayed its duration. It was probably time to consider protecting the Palestinians from rampant Israeli forces.
Eviction of Palestinians
Most of the tensions have grown violent due to the planned eviction of Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah town in East Jerusalem. A small court of Israel has favored Jewish settlers to claim the land where Palestinian homes are built. Palestinians see this as a deliberate attempt to drive them out so the settlers can have their contested Jerusalem. In order to prevent further violence, Supreme Court has deferred one case which was also running in courts since ages. UN has expressed concern over the situation again.
There are number of issues between Israel and Palestine that are widely seeming like unsolvable. Peace talks have been happening on and off for the last 25 years but the conflict is nowhere near resolution. No agreement has been made so far regarding the state of Jewish settlements in occupied territories. The global concern is that would they stay or be removed? Or what will happen to the Palestinian refugees? It is also not clear if both sides can share Jerusalem or the most critical one which involves a state of Palestine to be created alongside Israel.
Possibility of Escalation
With the lack of interest from wider international community, it is possible that things are only going to get worse from here for Palestinians. In efforts to stop violence in the region, friends of Israel including Qatar, Egypt, and UAE have contacted the leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh to stand down. Even though the violence between Israeli forces and civilians were going on few days before that.
Non-seriousness from the leaders of Muslim countries has been a painful fact for Muslim world. Moreover, the heinous act of attacking a holy place has hurt many as evident from condemnation on social media. The audacity of some people still defending Israel after what it did was like witnessing the death of what was left of humanity. Here are Israeli extremists celebrating their attack on Al Aqsa Mosque after setting it on fire.
So, hoping for any kind of resolution after such escalation is probably a wild goose chase.