1. The ‘status quo’ is already changing
In 2014, almost 11,000 Jews entered the Al-Aqsa mosque compound. This represented a 28 percent increase from the previous year – and almost double the number of Jewish visitors in 2009. While in 2012, Jewish activists entered the compound on average once every 2 weeks, in 2013 this had become once every 4 days, and in 2014, closer to every 2-3 days.
The UN has described how this week’s confrontations were preceded by “three consecutive weeks of [Israeli forces] preventing all Palestinian women, as well as all men under 50, from entering Al Aqsa Mosque Compound during the morning hours, to secure the entry of settlers and other Israeli groups.” Last week, the Israeli government outlawed two Muslim groups, “informal movements of mostly Arab women and elderly men”, who protest Jewish activists’ visits to the compound. Read more
On Sunday, an undercover unit of Israel’s Border Police conducted an arrest raid in Shuafat refugee camp, an area of Occupied East Jerusalem locked behind the Separation Wall.
Encountering resistance from local residents, the undercover forces requested assistance, and a large number of uniformed Israeli forces entered the camp. The police, in order to “extract the undercover unit and the detainee”, deployed “tear gas, sponge-tipped bullets and stun grenades.”
Nafaz Damiri was shopping in Shuafat when the raid took place. As he stood taking shelter inside a supermarket, Israeli forces shot him in the face with a sponge bullet. The 55-year-old husband and father of one, who was born deaf and dumb, has now lost his right eye. Read more
In the weeks and months after the Jerusalem Light Rail was inaugurated, city officials boasted of a practical achievement and powerful symbol of the city’s modernity and “unity”. Criticism that the line served illegal settlements was dismissed as ignorant. Pictures of Jewish and Palestinian passengers were proof positive, some suggested, of the deceit of the apartheid charge.
Yet in the fiery weeks of this year’s summer, the JLR became a different kind of symbol, as Palestinians focused their rage on its stations and trains as representative of Israel’s colonial domination. Read more
Gaza burns while the international community sits quietly, doing nothing about it. Israel has bombarded the territory for two weeks, killing more than 700 Palestinians and wounding well over 3,000. As I write this, I am aware that the death toll will only increase.
A massacre appals, disgusts, leaves one short of breath. It is a time for mourning, protest, but also education. Without an understanding of what is taking place in Palestine, we cannot put an end to this horror. Read more
The Israeli government’s approval of an $86 million plan for tightening its grip over occupied East Jerusalem is the latest development in a process of colonisation that continues to proceed with impunity.
According to an article in Haaretz, the five-year investment plan will fund “a number of actions with the declared purpose of thwarting any possibility that the city would be divided as part of a future accord”. The newspaper described it as “similar in nature to Economy Minister Naftali Bennett’s proposal to annex Area C of the West Bank”. Read more
In an interview earlier this year with The Jerusalem Post, one of the Jewish settlers in Sheikh Jarrah, an area in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem where Palestinians are being evicted from their homes, explained that he had no “personal problems” with “the Arabs” – but insisted that “they have to admit who the landlord is here.”
This sentiment offers more insight into the current realities on the ground in East Jerusalem, and Palestine/Israel in general, than dozens of column inches spent analyzing the progress of “shuttle diplomacy,” “concessions,” and “indirect talks.” Read more
Forced by Israeli construction in East Jerusalem, the US president delivers a “rare rebuke” of an ally. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu begins “construction of a new housing project in East Jerusalem” despite the risk of drawing “fierce, and possibly violent, Palestinian protest, along with international denunciations,” as reported by The New York Times. While this may sound like a news summary from the last month, these are in fact news reports from 1997, as Israel began work on Har Homa colony.
A number of commentators have pointed out a sense of déjà-vu about Netanyahu’s current premiership. But while today’s gaze is fixed on colonies like Ramat Shlomo — home to the 1,600 new housing units announced during US Vice President Joe Biden’s visit — or right-wing settler expansion in Sheikh Jarrah, little has been said about what has since happened to Har Homa, the colony which caused a stir during Netanyahu’s previous time in office. Read more