Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – Diya’ Hajj Yahya of Arab 48 reports that at least 180 Palestinians were injured Friday night by Israeli security forces in their crackdown on worshipers at the al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest shrine for the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims.
The US press and television news, where they report the events at all, is calling them “clashes.” It is a weasel word to avoid placing responsibility where it belongs, on the Israeli Apartheid state. The Palestinians of East Jerusalem are being gradually ethnically cleansed from their homes by Israel, which illegally annexed that half of the city, conquered in a quick grab in 1967. Moreover, Palestinian access to the al-Aqsa Mosque is gradually being reduced or restricted to please far right wing Israelis who wish to demolish it so they can monopolize the temple mount and rebuild the Jewish temple on the site. The al-Aqsa mosque complex is governed by international law, the “Status Quo” agreements. So too is East Jerusalem, which was not awarded to Israel even by the toothless UN General Assembly 1947 partition plan, which continues to be Occupied territory under the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 (which was intended to forestall a repeat of the worst excesses of Axis occupation tactics).
The security forces assaulted Palesiinians at the al-Aqsa Mosque, in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, and in the Damascus Gate area. The gate, and several others near the mosque, were closed to visitors and local residents even though there were still wounded in the area who could not be treated in emergency rooms, which were full, and health worker triage teams were impeded in their attempts to get to the wounded.
Some 5,000 residents of Sheikh Jarrah are in danger of being ethnically cleansed, with 30 families being targeted at this moment. Israeli authorities refuse to recognize the property deeds or common law residency claims of Palestinians originating before 1948 and refuse to allow them to expand or repair their property. When they do so, the Israelis confiscate it. These practices are among those denounced by Human Rights Watch in its recent decision to characterize Israel as an Apartheid state.
So, Palestinians were protesting the expulsions on Friday, and were repressed. That is one thing going on.
Then, Saturday evening is one of the holiest nights in the Muslim ritual calendar, the Laylat al-Qadr or Night of Power, commemorating the revelation of the Qur’an to the Prophet Muhammad. Friday prayers and evening supererogatory prayers at al-Aqsa on the night before are especially meaningful. But because of the protests nearby, the Israeli forces invaded the mosque and closed it. I think this move may just have been a petty way of humiliating and bothering the Palestinians, since the protest was at Damascus Gate, not inside the mosque.
This is the Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem making fun of and “playfully” calling for the death of a Palestinian protestor.
— IfNotNow🔥 (@IfNotNowOrg) May 7, 2021
Yahya says the Red Crescent Society (like our Red Cross) said that its medical teams were setting up triage sites in public to treat the Palestinians wounded when Israeli forces attacked the al-Aqsa Mosque, given that emergency rooms were full. They were, however, impeded in their access to the injured by the same Israeli security forces.
At least three protesters were arrested by Israeli police at Sheikh Jarrah, and they closed the neighborhood’s gates, turning it into a police barracks.
Meanwhile the security forces assaulted Palesinians in the square outside the al-Aqsa mosque as well as inside it, using stun grenades and firing rubber bullets (which despite their name can be lethal).
Video shows one of the Israeli security personnel abruptly and indiscriminately tossing a stun grenade into a crowd of Israeli bystanders, almost hitting a little girl.
Israeli security forces closed al-Wadi Street in East Jerusalem and after 6 pm stopped worshipers from going to the mosque to break their fast in accordance with custom. Then Israeli forces then attacked the worshipers already at the mosque.
The Red Crescent Society said that at least 180 Palestinians were wounded in Sheikh Jarrah, Damascus Gate and the al-Aqsa complex, many of them suffering head wounds, while others were wounded in the eye or in the chest by rubber bullets, some of them gravely. Some 88 of the wounded were taken to Jerusalem hospitals while others were treated in the field.
Thousands of Palestinians were attacked, at al-Aqsa when they tried to stop the Israelis from invading the mosque.
In Sheikh Jarrah Israeli police assaulted the home of the Qawasma family and prevented protesters from reaching the usual areas where protests are staged, dispersing them with stun grenades. They also stopped Sheikh Jarrah residents from holding a large, communal meal together to break their fast.
On Thursday nights, militant Israeli squatter-settlers had invaded the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, supported by Israeli security forces, who fired tear gas at the Palestinians during the time of breaking the fast (sundown). That provocation led to confrontations and continued tension on Friday. Threats were made to ethnically cleanse the Palestinian residents, and an extremist Kahanist member of Parliament, Itimar Ben Gvir, transferred his parliamentary office out of the neighborhood, where he had provocatively placed it. The Kahanists advocate violence and ethnic cleansing against Palestinians and at one point were listed as a terrorist group by the US government.
Israeli forces also attacked Palestinian-Israeli members of the Knesset or parliament who joined the weekly protest against the ethnic cleansing of Sheikh Jarrah and prevented them from reaching the neighborhood.
The Israeli security forces said that 6 policemen were injured, with some requiring medical attention.