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Israel flares the situation in Gaza to shift attention from Sheikh Jarrah eviction

Fire billow from Israeli air strikes in Gaza City, Gaza on May 10, 2021 [Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency]
Fire billow from Israeli air strikes in Gaza City, Gaza on May 10, 2021 [Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency]

It seems it is the fate of Palestinians to face the worst of apartheid policies under Israel's military occupation.

Denial of rights, dispossessions, expulsions, evictions, ID confiscations, house demolitions, land grabs, airstrikes, tank shelling, targeted assassinations, warships, refugees, military occupation. These are terms among many others that Palestinians are used to hearing and using.

The events at Al-Aqsa Mosque and Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood that happened in the past few days in the occupied holy city of Jerusalem is a reminder of the ethnic cleansing that has never stopped since 1948.

Over 300 peaceful worshipers were injured by Israeli rubber bullets, stun grenades, and tear gas canisters. Anger was high as Israeli attacks and violations took place during the holy month of Ramadan while worshippers were praying.

OPINION: The untold story of Sheikh Jarrah

Provocative scenes of storming the mosque – Islam's third holiest site – trapping worshipers inside, shooting, and arresting peaceful worshipers fuelled the situation. Provocative footage not only made anger run high among Palestinians but also among Muslims worldwide, with many demonstrations taking place in many capitals worldwide.

The aggressive nature of the Israeli military occupation is also a reminder that Palestinians under the ongoing 73-year occupation have a right to self-defence.

Gaza resistance steps in

Gaza's resistance has issued threats to retaliate in response to the aggression against the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and its holy Al-Aqsa Mosque. Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007, wanted to impose a de facto formula that the holy sites, mainly Al-Aqsa Mosque, are a red line.

An ultimatum was given to Israel to leave the mosque and release those arrested. As provocations did not end, the Palestinian resistance started firing projectiles from Gaza at Israeli cities reaching some 45 kilometres.

This act has wet Netanyahu's appetite to unleash his retaliation to the embarrassments caused after a settler rally and a Knesset session in Jerusalem were disrupted. Airstrikes on Gaza, as well as tank shelling and warships fire, continued to be waged across Gaza. Among the targets hit were many residential properties, a school, a charity society, recreational sites, factories, and agricultural fields among other places.

Up to the writing of this piece 30 Palestinians have been killed so far including 10 children, in addition to over 129 others including 43 children. Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, with nearly 2 million people living in a crammed enclave of 360 square kilometres.

READ: Palestinian resistance imposes new rules of engagement on Israel

Palestinian health officials are worried about the increasing numbers of causalities amid power cuts caused by the frequent airstrikes. Israel says it targets members of the Palestinian resistance, but most of the victims were civilians. Analysts agree that targeting civilians aims to cause a painful loss to families to shift the blame on the Palestinian resistance. In previous offensives and wars waged on Gaza, the Israeli army knocked down entire residential buildings and towers.

According to Palestinian officials, Israel enjoys a culture of impunity when it comes to using excessive force against Palestinians under the pretext of self-defence. It has always considered itself above international law, and it's time to bring it down under international law.

Western media

Some of the prominent broadcasting news TV stations in the Western world start their news stories with Palestinian violence and rockets fired from Gaza into Israel. Those media outlets focus on reactions and ignore the real root and cause of the story, that is Israel's attacks on peaceful worshipers and evicting the indigenous Palestinian residents of not only Sheikh Jarrah but many Palestinian neighbourhoods across the occupied Palestinian territories, in particular Jerusalem. The double standard policy from world leaders and media outlets must end. Palestinians were and are the victims.

Hashtags and international response

Since the provocative events started, the hashtag #savesheikhjarrah went viral, as well as others such as #palestinianlivesmatter #gazaunderattack #alquds #jerusalem #alaqsa #freepalestine.

There has been a huge response and solidarity from many people around the world with some celebrities across the world showing sympathy. More demonstrations are being organised across the world and messages of support are circulating on social media. This indeed increases the resolve and morale of Palestinians that they are not alone. Until now no resolutions came out of the meetings of members of the Security Council and the Arab League.

READ: Statements alone will not stop Israeli attacks on Palestinians, it is time for action

What is more important is a serious intervention on the ground on the part of the international community to end the atrocities and deadly attacks on Palestinians, end the ongoing military occupation and blockade of Gaza, and grant freedom of movement. Arab counties that normalised ties with Israel must use their influence and pressure Israel to respect Islamic holy sites during Ramadan and overall save Palestinian blood from being spilled by Israel's advanced military power.

It's time for Israel to stop using Gaza as an experimental training ground and stop using internationally banned weapons. It's time to remove the hundreds of security checkpoints and roadblocks that slice and divide Palestinian cities, towns, and villages.

Palestinians are the victims

Endless ongoing Israeli efforts around the clock are being made to twist the facts and show that Israel is the victim and Palestinians are the aggressors, the bad guys who always start trouble. The powerful propaganda machine that Tel Aviv has enabled makes sure it is never held accountable for the crimes and massacres that are committed and that continue to be committed.

Hospitals in Gaza are already overwhelmed with a huge number of causalities, and already in short supply of medicine and advanced medical equipment. Until the writing of this piece, the escalation continues in the besieged coastal sliver of war-torn Gaza. The death toll is most likely to increase if the Israeli aerial offensive continues.

There is no room to talk about peace without justice for the Palestinians. National rights must be restored, oppression and military occupation must end. There will never be peace in the Middle East without a just solution for the Palestinians.

Gaza has answered the call of Palestinian Jerusalemites to help them and put an end to the brutality of the soldiers, but it seems that in the mind of Netanyahu and other Israeli officials, Gaza must always pay a heavy price for standing up and defending Palestinian rights.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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