Swedish journalist and writer Kajsa Ekis Ekman has described Israel’s attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque as an effort to “make Palestinians’ lives unbearable as Israel tightens its grip on movement”.
In an interview with Anadolu Agency, Ekman listed all the measures Israel has put in place to restrict Palestinians: “Israel denies the right of Palestinians to build homes in their cities, constantly fills their lives with obstacles in a barbaric way, spies on them and sets up checkpoints. Now, settlers are trying to harass and provoke the Palestinians through attacking Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
The Swedish activist pointed out that Israel is violent towards journalists who are covering what is happening in Jerusalem: “Statistics in 2014 showed that Israel is the second most dangerous country in the world for journalists. If Israel considers the work of a newspaper reporter to be inciting violence it can simply arrest him.”
She added that Israel routinely closes Palestinian radio and television channels.
Ekman was on the third Freedom Flotilla which set sail on 10 May 2015 from Sweden and aimed to break the siege on the Gaza Strip. Israeli forces intercepted it in international waters on 28 June 2015 while she was on board the Marianne, the Swedish ship.
Ekman described what happened to the 18 activists on board while Israeli forces were arresting them: “We wanted to reach Israel but the Israeli army kidnapped us. They forced us out of the ship using guns, stole the ship and everything in it, and took us hostage for a week in a closed vehicle that had no windows. We had no idea where we were. They did not allow us to use phones or to communicate through any means.”
Ekman described what the Israeli army had done to them as “piracy”. She said: “The Israeli army behaved like a gang of criminal pirates. We were threatened by the people who were interrogating us. They told me they knew which school my son went to and threatened others saying that the area where they live is full of deserted streets and that anything could happen to them there.”
Ekman summed up the situation saying that the main problem in Palestine is the occupation and pointing out that “Israel was built by illegally taking power and deporting the people who used to live there. It is not a democracy. It is nothing but a state built on a mythical idea of ethnic origin”.
Ekman criticised Israeli laws that allowed Jews to live in Israel even if they have never visited before, while those who had lived on the land for thousands of years are prevented from returning.
Ekman described the situation as “madness” and stressed that for Israel to become a democratic state it must abandon its exclusionary policies and its ethnic identity.
She added: “Israel is an apartheid state, guilty of constantly violating international laws. Israel illegally imprisons the people of Gaza, leaves them to go hungry and cuts off the electricity.” She stressed that the countries and people of the world must boycott Israel until it puts an end to the occupation.
Following the attack that killed three Palestinians and two Israeli policemen, Israel closed Al-Aqsa Mosque on 14 October, banned prayers for the second time since it occupied East Jerusalem in 1967, and partially reopened it two days later after putting electronic gates at the entrances.
Palestinians rejected all Israeli restrictions in the vicinity of Al-Aqsa and worshipers performed their five prayers in the Lion’s Gate area for 11 consecutive days.
On Thursday morning Israeli police announced that overnight they had removed “all security measures” that had been placed at the entry of Al-Aqsa Mosque since 14 July.