11 Mayıs 2021

Attack on Al-Aqsa and Apathy of the World

Who could anticipate that a mere court decision about forceful eviction of Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah would prove to be a harbinger of another full scale assault on residents of Gaza. While I am writing these lines, more than 24 hours have passed since Israeli jets started bombing the poor residents of Gaza strip taking the total toll of wounded in Gaza and West Bank combined to 700 out which at least 500 are being treated in hospitals. This has come after a week of sporadic yet ferocious attacks on people praying in the third holiest site for Muslims, Masjid Al-Aqsa. The Muslim residents of Gaza and Westbank are hence awaiting another Eid amidst a terrible bloodshed carrying corpses of their dead at a time when other Muslims are gearing up for the Eid festive.

Palestinians have long been caught in the intricate web of miseries set by Israel, the apartheid state, that is grating their nerves by bombing their women and children on one hand and hitting them against the wall using its tool
 of home demolitions and forceful evictions on the other. This is the fact referring to which Sami al Arian, a prominent Palestinian-American professor said, “What’s happening in Sheikh Jarrah and the Al Aqsa Mosque is the continuation of the Zionist onslaught on Palestinian rights …. The Zionist movement’s main goal is to depopulate Palestine from its people and its residents and to bring Jewish settlers in their place. That has always been the Zionist goal and that’s what is taking place today.” Hence the recent wave of forceful evictions is part of the Zionist ferocious plot that calls for an organized emigraton of Jews to Palestine in a steady way to wipe the Palestinian population off the whole region.

This tool of bulldozing Palestinian villages and evicting them from their homes has relentlessly been used to the extent that only since March 2020, more than 163 homes and structures have been demolished in East Jerusalem, displacing 359 Palestinians, including 167 children.

Though the plight of Palestinians is not new but how did the recent events unfold? Towards the beginning of this year, the Jerusalem District Court ruled at least six families must vacate their homes in Sheikh Jarrah in May, despite living there for generations. The same court ruled seven other families should leave their homes by August 1. In total, 58 people, including 17 children, are set to be forcibly displaced to make way for Jewish settlers. In an apparent anticipation of public opposition to the imminent eviction of several Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah, people witnessed that barriers were set up as early as 12 April to bar West Bank Palestinians from visiting Jerusalem to pray at Al-Aqsa. This incited a large number of youth to protest on April 13, 2021 against these arbitrary actions of Israel. As the Israeli provocations continued, the protests also grew. As the protesters stayed determined, the barricades fell, and Israeli police withdrew, and Palestinians retook the control of Damascus Gate.

Israeli forces however continued the forceful eviction of Palestinian families from the beginning of this month. Following some scuffles with Palestinian youth in the first week of May Israeli police attacked Muslim worshippers late on Friday, 7 May 2021, inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem's Old City. The terrible attack left 205 worshippers injured out of which 88 were taken to hospitals in Jerusalem, while others were treated as outpatients. The spree of attacks by occupied forces continued on Saturday, May 8 when some 100 Palestinians were wounded, many hit by rubber bullets and stun grenades fired by Israeli forces.

The unprovoked onslaught bomb shelled the whole world. Turkey took the lead and the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan termed the attacks against ‘the first qibla’ as ‘heinous’ reiterating his support for the Palestinians. The vice president Fuat Oktay also termed Israel’s actions as "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity.” This was followed by Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan who called upon the whole world to intervene and bring peace to the region. Iran called upon the United Nations and all related international bodies to do their duty in taking measures against the war crimes of Israel. Several other countries including Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), Lebanon, Tunisia, Egypt and Indonesia joined the chorus of condemnations of Israeli attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

On Quds Day, protesters in Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Gaza, and Syria held pro-Palestinian rallies in an annual show of support. Following the Israeli attacks on civilians, citizens of different Muslim countries flocked the consulates of Israel. Thousands of people rallied late on Monday outside the Israeli embassy in Ankara and its consulate in Istanbul. Processions against Israel have also been held in several other countries including Pakistan and United Kingdom. Similar protests were observed in many other countries. Following Egypt, Jordan on Sunday summoned the charge d'affaires of Israel's Embassy in Amman to protest Tel Aviv's continued escalation and attacks against Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem.

The initial response of western world and international organizations was not very lukewarm. France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Britain urged Israel to halt settlement-building in the occupied West Bank. The United Nations also called upon Israel to stop any forced evictions in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem warning its actions could amount to “war crimes”.

Meanwhile Hamas that had warned Israel of retaliation if the escalation from Israel was not stopped, allegedly fired some rockets form Gaza. Israel that was already doing aggression in the West Bank started an aerial offensive on Gaza as well. Due to the bombing of Israeli planes in Gaza 24 deaths have been reported within last 24 hours out of which at least 9 were children.

It was not long before the western faction turned apathetic in their condemnation of Israeli war crimes. Following skirmishes between Hamas and Israel, many countries either started parroting the decades old rhetoric of blaming Hamas for the violence or at the best resorted to bothsidseism diluting down their criticism of Israeli apartheid replacing it with euphemism. The UN Security Council held an urgent meeting on the unrest in Jerusalem but issued no immediate statement. US State Department spokesman Ned Price called the rocket attacks by Hamas as an "unacceptable escalation" while turning a blind eye to violence from Israel. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the rocket attacks from Gaza against Israel should stop "immediately," and urged all sides to take steps to de-escalate the situation. Britain also joined the rant condemning the firing of rockets within Israel. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas tweeted that “Nothing justifies rockets being fired on the civilian Israeli population.”

Many western news outlets have also repeated their Orientalist tropes by rationalizing Israel’s attack hence shamming the victim. Referring to the same fact, writer and scholar, Denijal Jegic notes that "Western media outlets obscure the Israeli origins of violence while implying a false parity of power with the Palestinians … In reality, one side is a nuclear-armed heavily militarized apartheid regime that has legal, political, and military control over the other side which is struggling for basic rights and sometimes mere survival.”

The attack on the holy city and its people is disturbing yet what is more dismal is the ephemeral activism of Muslim countries every time Gaza starts burning in fire. Whenever an offensive is stared against Palestinian people our governments gear up to parrot the mere shibboleth of condemnation against a aggressor hardly doing any pragmatic think to undo the Zionist plots. As long as this weakness of Muslim world persists, the sporadic outbursts of condemnation alone would not suffice to assure the safety for Palestinians in their land.