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The story behind the Jerusalem attack: How Trump and Netanyahu pushed the Palestinians into a corner

A wounded Palestinian is seen after Israeli forces intervened a protest in front Al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem on 16 July 2017 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency ]
A wounded Palestinian is seen after Israeli forces intervened a protest in front Al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem on 16 July 2017 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency ]

Early October 2016, Misbah Abu Sbeih left his wife and five children at home and then drove to an Israeli police station in Occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem. The 39-year-old Jerusalemite was scheduled to hand himself over to serve a term of 4 months in jail for, allegedly, trumped up charges of ‘trying to hit an Israeli soldier’.

Misbah is familiar with Israeli prisons, having been held there before on political charges, including an attempt to sneak into and pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque. Al-Aqsa Mosque is part of a large compound known as Haram al-Sharif, which includes – aside from Al-Aqsa – the famed Dome of the Rock and other Palestinian Muslim sites, revered by Muslims everywhere.

Al-Aqsa is believed to be the second mosque ever to be built, the first being Masjid al-Haram in Mecca. The Holy Quran mentions it as the place from which Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven, journeying from Mecca to Jerusalem. For Palestinians, Muslims and Christians alike, the Mosque took on a new meaning following the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian city of al-Quds (East Jerusalem) in 1967.

Scenes of Israeli soldiers raising the Israeli flag over Muslim and Christian shrines in the city fifty years ago, is burnt into the collective memory of several generations. Unsurprisingly, therefore, that the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound has been the focal point of clashes between Palestinian worshipers and the Israeli army.

Read: Israel seeks to further restrict access to Al-Aqsa Mosque

Daily visitors to the Muslim holy shrines in Jerusalem include non-Muslims tourists. They are often welcomed by Al-Waqf administration, which is the Islamic religious trust that manages the holy shrines, a practice dating back 500 years. Even after the Israeli occupation of the Arab city, al-Waqf has continued to be the caretaker of the Muslim site, as arranged between the Jordanian government and Israel. Israeli design in the occupied city, however, is far greater than the Mosque itself.

Last April, the Israeli government announced plans to build 15,000 new housing units in Occupied Jerusalem, contrary to international law. The international community recognizes East Jerusalem as a Palestinian city. The United States, too, accepts international consensus on Jerusalem, and attempts by the US Congress to challenge the White House on this understanding have all failed. That is, until Donald Trump came to power.

Prior to his inauguration in January, Trump had promised to relocate the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The announcement was welcomed by Israeli rightwing politicians and extremists alike. Many of Israel’s supporters in the US saw this as a good sign of the Trump presidency. While the US embassy is yet to officially move to Jerusalem, the new administration is sending a message that it is no longer bound by international law with regard to the Occupied Territories.

Not only is the US abandoning its self-tailored role as a ‘peace broker’ between Israel and the Palestinian leadership, but it is sending a clear signal to Israel that there can be no pressure on Israel regarding the status of Jerusalem. In response, the United Nations and its various institutions have moved quickly to reassure Palestinians. The UN cultural agency, UNESCO, has been the most active in this regard. Despite US-Israeli pressure, several resolutions have been passed by UNESCO and the UN General Assembly in recent months, which have reaffirmed Palestinian rights in the city.

Read: Israel cuts $1m of its funding to UNESCO

Israel and the US moved to punish Palestinians for UNESCO’s decisions. It began when the Israeli Knesset began pushing laws that make life even more difficult for Palestinian Jerusalemites, including a law that limits the Muslim call for prayer. The law, which passed its second reading last March, was championed by Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Israeli police expanded the ever-growing list of Palestinians who are not allowed to reach their houses of worship. The list included Misbah Abu Sbeih, who was repeatedly arrested, beaten and incarcerated by the Israeli police.

The Israeli government then opened up the flood gates of settlement expansion in the occupied city, after being partially limited during the presidency of Barack Obama. In part, that was Netanyahu’s response to UN Resolution 2334, which demanded an immediate halt to Israeli settlement construction in Jerusalem and the Occupied Territories.

Concurrently, the new US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, took on the task of silencing any international criticism of the Israeli occupation, calling international attempts to end the occupation a form of ‘bullying.’ Assured by the unconditional US support, Netanyahu moved to new extremes. He severed his country’s ties with UNESCO and called for the dismantlement of UN headquarters in the occupied Palestinian city.

Read: When Abbas lauds Trump, he is trying to deflect his own accountability

East Jerusalem was already illegally annexed by Israeli in 1981, but without international acceptance of such a measure, the Israeli move seemed pointless. Now, Israel feels that times are changing, as the Trump administration offers Israel a window of opportunity to normalize its illegal occupation and annexation of the city. In recent months, Palestinians have responded in myriad ways. They have worked with various countries across the globe to challenge the Israeli-US plans. Most Palestinian efforts, although successful to some extent, have failed to sway Israel in any way.

The political upheaval has translated on the ground to more violence, as thousands of Israeli occupation soldiers and police were rushed to the city to restrict Palestinian movement and to block thousands of worshipers from reaching Al-Aqsa. Hundreds were detained in a massive security campaign. In the absence of a strong leadership, Palestinians are growingly increasingly desperate and angry. The Palestinian Authority is largely busy in its own pitiful power struggles and appears to have no time for Palestinians, who are left with little hope for a political horizon and no clear sense of direction. While thousands of Palestinians have resisted through constantly attempting to reach Al-Aqsa or demonstrated in protest, others are “reaching the breaking point”.

One is Misbah Abu Sbeih. Once he arrived at the Israeli military police station, Mishbah did not give himself up. Instead, he opened fire, killing an Israeli army office from the ‘Yassam’ unit and another Israeli. He was killed instantly. Other attacks followed. On Friday, July 14, the holiest day of the week in the Muslim calendar, three Palestinian men attacked Israeli soldiers and police officers stationed near one of the Haram’s gates. They killed two Israeli officers, and were killed by occupation soldiers, soon after.

#OccupiedPalestine

This is the first time that an attack of this nature has been recorded inside the Al-Aqsa compound. Since 1967, only Israelis have used arms in violent clashes with Palestinians. Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed in or around this holy shrine throughout the years. Last June in Jerusalem, speaking to a crowd celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Israeli military occupation of the city, Israeli Prime Minister, Netanyahu declared that the al-Aqsa Mosque compound would “forever remain under Israeli sovereignty.”

Empowered by the Trump administration and assured by Haley’s tactics at the UN, Netanyahu feels that his dream of subduing East Jerusalem is being realized. The price of Netanyahu’s dream, however, is likely to be costly. On the day of the attack, several Palestinians were killed in various parts of the West Bank and a 3-year-old child from Gaza died while awaiting a permit to cross from the besieged region to the West Bank for treatment. None of this registered in international media.

The armed Palestinian attack on Israeli soldiers, however, made headlines around the world. More violence is likely to follow. Palestinians, who are dying without much media coverage, are desperate and angry as their holy city is crumbling under the heavy boots of soldiers, amid international silence and unconditional US support for the Israeli government.

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  • Blake

    There is a big difference being born out of native self rule and illegal immigrant terrorism white settler with NO integrity.

    And what international law created ‘israel’?
    Under their partition plan, more than half of the territory would  go to the minority Jews, who owned just seven percent of the land  (while 85 percent was owned by Arabs). The General Assembly passed  a resolution in 1947 recommending that the commission’s partition  plan be implemented. Naturally, the Arabs rejected the plan. Contrary to popular myth, Israel was not created by the U.N. Israel  was born on May 14, 1948, when the Zionist leadership unilaterally  declared its existence. The neighboring Arab states took up arms against  the newly declared state in the war known to Israelis as the “War of  Independence” and to the Arabs as the “Nakba”, or “Catastrophe”.  During the war, 700,000 Arabs were either driven from their homes or  fled out of fear of further massacres such as had occurred at the village  of Deir Yassin shortly prior to the Zionist declaration. This ethnic cleansing of Israel is the root cause of the Palestinian  refugee problem one hears so much about today. Although their right of 

    The Simplicity of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict return is guaranteed under international law, Israel has refused to allow  those who fled and their descendants to return to what is rightfully  their own land. This is also the reason why Palestinians today do not  recognize that Israel has a “right to exist”. Another watershed event occurred in June of 1967, when Israel  launched  a  surprise  attack  against  Egypt  (then  the  United  Arab  Republic). Such was the superiority of the Israeli force of arms that the  war lasted only six days, during which Israel invaded and occupied the  Palestinian territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

    • Eric11210

      This is a bunch of nonsense fiction.

      1. The vast majority of the land was not owned by Jews or Arabs. The vast majority was state land which was owned by the state.

      2. The vast majority of your fellow Muslims left on their own at the urging of their own leaders because they were told they could have their pick of Jewish homes when the Jews had been butchered by you.

      3. Deir Yassin was not a massacre. That is a lie. It was a village from which your kind would shell supply trucks trying to get food and medical supplies to starving Jewish children in Jerusalem. The villagers were warned to leave and after the fighting, the civilians who were left were taken to the Arab side of Jerusalem to be set free. The cowardly jihadist fighters dressed up as women and started shooting from within the crowd of refugees and that’s when the Jews returned fire and many civilians died — because you sickos used civilians as human shields as you always have.

      4. What international law is that? There is no international law anywhere granting your people any right of return.

      5. This is a common lie. First off, the war started because Egypt committed several acts of war, including closing the straights of Tiran and massing troops on the border in direct violation of the cease fire agreement from 11 years before. Second, there was not and there is now no such thing as Palestinian territory. The so called west bank was illegally occupied and annexed by Jordan, who had no claim to the land and Gaza was illegally occupied by Egypt, who equally had no claim to the land. The truth is that the Arab armies were massively superior in firepower to Israel’s army. The only reason Israel prevailed is because she managed to catch the Egyptian army off guard and destroyed most of the Egyptian Air Force. Moreover, it is not commonly known that Israel begged Jordan to stay out of the war and Jordan decided on their own to shell western Jerusalem because they thought the Israeli planes returning from Egypt were in fact the first waive of attack against Israel from that nation.

    • charliematerne

      Your lack of knowledge on this subject is appalling. The State of Israel, then called the Mandate for Palestine was “born” (for lack of a better word) in 1922. That Mandate under the League of Nations was and still is International Law.
      the “Partition Plan (UNDA 181) was, under the UN Charter, like all GA Resolutions, was not Law, but a suggestion. It needed the approval of both sides and they would have had to make a Treaty to seal the deal. The Arab side violently refused the first (of several) attempts at a state of their own (but you already know that because you mention the war)
      NO International Law gives anyone, including the “Palestinians” and especially “their dependents” the right to return to a place they have never lived. The world over a “refugee” is defined as “a person”, only the “Palestinians” and the UNRWA define a refugee as a person and all possible descendants, Even the UNHRA does not believe in such a definition.
      While there is recent discussion among historians about who attacked who in 1967, military historians agree that it was Egypt that started the war. Its expulsion of the UN Peace Keepers, the Massive buildup of its military in Sinai and its belligerent, threatening (including calls for genocide) constituted what is know as a “casus belli” ( in case you are not familiar with the term == “Casus belli
      Casus belli is a Latin expression meaning “an act or event that provokes or is used to justify war” (literally, “a case for war”). A casus belli involves direct offenses or threats against the nation declaring the war, whereas a casus foederis involves offenses or threats against its ally—usually one bound by a mutual defense pact. Either may be considered an act of war.)
      At any rate (no matter which side you believe attacked the other) the Jordanians, after repeated requests by Israel, through the UN, to stay out of the war, did in fact attack Israel. Any actual history you can find on the war will clearly state that there was NO “superiority of the Israeli force of arms” but only the Israeli refusal to submit to genocide that was promised by the Arabs. There are several studies by military men as to why the Arab Armies always fair so poorly in conflict. Maybe you should read one

      • Blake

        Your lies are appalling no integrity whatsoever. Am done with this nonsense. Palestine is a long way from Pale of the Settlement. Blocked

        • Eric11210

          And which lies would those be? These are all verifiable facts. Just because you don’t like them doesn’t make them untrue.

  • Eric11210

    1. They are not in the compound. They are at the entrance, making sure someone doesn’t try to blow the place up.

    2. It is also holy to Jews.

  • Eric11210

    Talk about bald faced lies. There are in fact thousands of artifacts that have been recovered proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that you built your mosque on the ruins of a Jewish temple. Then again, you jihadis do love your grand lies.

  • Eric11210

    These are all verifiable facts.