THE situation in the occupied territories over the past few days has been incendiary, with tensions boiling over as enraged Palestinians bravely face the brutish might of the Israeli settler state. There is no one trigger for the latest cycle of violence; instead, a combination of developments have come together to form an explosive cocktail that has just exploded in front of the world. Among the most recent of these events is the imminent expulsion of Palestinian residents from the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah. In one video, an Israeli settler with an American accent has the gall to tell Arab homeowners that if he doesn’t steal their house, someone else will. Israel had also placed restrictions on Palestinians’ access to Masjid Al Aqsa during Ramazan in the name of Covid-19 precautions, enraging worshippers. Moreover, a provocative march by an extremist Jewish group in the holy city chanting “death to Arabs”, as well as the observance of so-called Jerusalem Day, which is supposed to ‘celebrate’ the Israeli occupation of the divided city in 1967, next to the walls of Haram as-Sharif, also did much to fan the flames. But perhaps the last straw was when Israeli security man arrogantly stormed Al Aqsa, injuring hundreds of worshippers and desecrating the mosque. Hamas fired rockets at Israel in response and now a vicious full-scale assault has been launched on Gaza by Tel Aviv, in which a number of children have been killed.

The lava that has just exploded in Palestine was brewing for years. Amongst the main triggers of Palestinian anger was the recognition of Jerusalem — a disputed city as per international law — as Israel’s capital by Donald Trump, which effectively gave Tel Aviv’s leaders the green light to trample on global conventions. Then of course there was the rush by many of the Palestinians’ Arab ‘brothers’ to establish ties with Israel, despite the fact that the Jewish state had no intention whatsoever of respecting the two-state solution. And during all this while, nothing was done to stop rapacious Jewish settlers from devouring more and more Palestinian land. Now, with the storming of Al Aqsa — a national and religious symbol for the Palestinians — it is clear to the Arabs that Tel Aviv has been itching for a fight. From here on, the international community, particularly Israel’s Western backers and its Arab friends, must convince Tel Aviv to halt the slaughter of Palestinians, or deal with the consequences of a new intifada.

Published in Dawn, May 12th, 2021

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