For us Jerusalemites, it’s frankly nauseating to listen to commentators throw round cliches of “cycle of violence”, name for a “return to calm”, and usually have interaction in bothsidesism, every time violence erupts. And previously few weeks, we now have heard them but once more. There are not any two equal sides in Jerusalem.
The drawback with these statements is that they whitewash the truth that Jerusalem is a metropolis below violent occupation and its occupier, Israel, has made its intent to slowly uproot the native inhabitants fairly public.
In this sense, violence is a everlasting function of the lives of Jerusalem residents, even when outdoors observers understand the streets to be “quiet”. And it isn’t a matter of “both sides” de-escalating.
This previous yr had been significantly violent for Palestinian Jerusalemites. The impression of COVID-19 on our group is dwarfed by the results of relentless harassment, arrests, home demolition and displacement by the Israeli authorities, finally aimed on the ethnic cleaning of town.
No one needs to be stunned on the quantity of anger Palestinians maintain in direction of the Israeli occupation authorities within the metropolis. Their encroachments on the rights of our group are countless and are instantly liable for any uptick in violence.
Such is the case with this newest violent episode which started within the first days of the holy month of Ramadan.
Ramadan is a particular time for Muslims all world wide, however in Jerusalem, the festive ambiance is solely magical. It is a time when Jerusalemites – younger and previous – come along with family and friends, stroll by means of the streets of town, purchase sweets, drink espresso, and benefit from the gentle shows, impromptu music reveals and avenue performances.
You wouldn’t see Jerusalem come alive late at night time throughout every other time of the yr. It is a particular expertise that displays the robust communal bonds amongst Palestinian Jerusalemites. And it’s, after all, a favorite event for the Israeli authorities to harass Palestinians and spoil their festivities. This yr was no completely different.
On April 12, a day earlier than the beginning of Ramadan, I walked down the steps of Damascus Gate into the Old City to have my final hummus and falafel breakfast meal at Abu Shukri, earlier than starting the month-long quick. On my manner, I observed the primary indicators that the Israeli authorities had been planning one thing. The house, benches and steps across the Damascus Gate plaza had been blocked by steel barricades. Damascus Gate, with its three police garrisons erected in recent times, appeared like a militarised encampment.
There was no cause to arrange these boundaries at a preferred Ramadan hangout spot aside from to upset the Palestinians. The resolution to bar West Bank Palestinians from visiting Jerusalem to hope at Al-Aqsa, citing a scarcity of vaccinations as an excuse, additional riled Jerusalemites.
The response was quick: on the primary day of Ramadan, April 13, numerous younger folks gathered on the Damascus Gate to protest towards the arbitrary actions of the Israeli occupier. Over the next days, the protests grew, as Israeli provocations continued. On April 22, tons of of extremist Jews marched on the previous metropolis below the safety of the Israeli police, chanting “Death to Arabs!” Palestinian youth had been relentless of their resistance.
Thirteen days into Ramadan, on April 25, the barricades fell. I arrived just a little after 9pm that night time, across the time when folks had been starting to collect after Taraweeh prayers. Large crowds of Palestinians marched, decided to take again the occupied Damascus Gate. The Israeli police withdrew and the youth then compelled the removing of all barricades and poured into the house. Chanting, singing and dancing, we reasserted our presence on our land.
The “victory” was bittersweet, nonetheless. For almost two weeks, Palestinian youth had been subjected to brutal suppression, getting overwhelmed up, attacked with stun grenades and foul-smelling “skunk” water cannon, and detained. And whereas international media paid consideration to those dramatic photos, it ignored utterly Israel’s different sustained campaigns of brutality towards Jerusalemites.
While Palestinian youth had been resisting encroachment on their public areas, some Jerusalemites had been dealing with brutal dispossession of their houses.
In Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, 500 Palestinians from 28 households are dealing with eviction from houses which have belonged to them for generations. In February, a courtroom dominated that six Palestinian homes the place 27 folks dwell are to be handed over to Jewish settlers. Earlier this week, the courtroom gave the Palestinian households 4 days to “reach an agreement” with the Jewish settlers, by which they might surrender that they personal their houses in trade for a delay of their eviction.
The appalling absurdity of the courtroom resolution is a main instance of Israel’s brutal occupation and ethnic cleaning insurance policies. In Israeli apartheid courts, there isn’t any justice for Palestinians. More than 200 households in East Jerusalem are vulnerable to eviction as a consequence of related courtroom instances filed towards them.
The Palestinian households have vowed to withstand. In one video that went viral previous to the courtroom listening to, Sheikh Jarrah resident Muna al-Kurd is seen confronting a settler about stealing Palestinian houses, by which he replies with a heavy American accent “If I don’t steal it, someone else will.” Half of al-Kurd’s home had been taken over by Jewish settlers in 2009.
Home demolitions are one other brutal Israeli follow to have continued over the previous yr, even amid the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March 2020, greater than 163 houses and buildings had been demolished in East Jerusalem, displacing 359 Palestinians, together with 167 kids.
In February, the Jerusalem Municipality requested the activation of demolition orders towards some 70 Palestinian houses within the al-Bustan space of Silwan neighbourhood, adjoining to the Old City of Jerusalem. The Israeli municipality plans to construct an archaeological park there. If carried out, the demolitions would uproot some 1,500 Palestinians.
Jabal al-Mukaber, a neighbourhood of Jerusalem most affected by demolitions over the previous three years, has seen houses demolished and households displaced to make manner for a deliberate ring street that’s supposed to attach Israeli settlements within the southern West Bank to Jerusalem. In June 2020 alone, 23 buildings belonging to Palestinians had been demolished, ensuing within the displacement of 57 folks, together with 34 kids.
In al-Walaja, seven buildings had been destroyed and households displaced with out warning to create space for the institution of an Israeli nationwide park. Homes had been additionally demolished within the Sur Bahir space as a result of the buildings had been in a “buffer zone”, arbitrarily decided by Israeli authorities.
Israeli violence doesn’t cease at evictions and home demolitions. It additionally extends into the political sphere, the place the Israeli authorities proceed to disclaim the Jerusalemite Palestinians their political rights. They frequently assault and arrest Palestinians engaged in political actions or making an attempt to signify political events; even Palestinian Authority (PA) officers are harassed.
In current days, the Israeli authorities unequivocally indicated that it could not enable the Palestinian legislative elections, initially scheduled for May 22, to be additionally held in East Jerusalem, the place nearly 400,000 Palestinians dwell. Israeli police frequently raided occasions that promoted the Palestinian elections and arrested Palestinian parliamentary candidates. As a end result, PA President Mahmoud Abbas formally postponed the deliberate elections, citing Israel’s outright refusal for the election course of to be held in East Jerusalem.
By distinction, Israelis living in Jerusalem have been free to vote 4 occasions previously two years, lots of them casting a poll for a similar Jewish extremists who just lately had been chanting “Death to Arabs!” in our streets.
Jerusalem could have disappeared from the information for now, however the occupiers haven’t left us alone. The colonial violence has not gone away. On Thursday, Palestinian households in Sheikh Jarrah anticipate to be evicted from their houses by power, to be instantly changed by Jewish settlers.
Over the weekend is Laylat al-Qadr, the one night time of Ramadan the place Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque is the busiest, which additionally coincides with what Israelis name “Jerusalem Day”, the day Israel occupied East Jerusalem. Israelis mark that day by marching by means of our streets and raiding Al-Aqsa, absolutely protected by the Israeli police, who put us below strict lockdown. But we is not going to passively watch on.
Israel does its greatest to make life for Jerusalem’s Palestinians a distress and a relentless battle. It does every little thing to make us disappear. But we is not going to. Every day, we face police brutality, arrests, home evictions and demolitions, impoverishment and a denial of fundamental human rights. The occupier’s violence is a everlasting function of our lives.
But we’re decided to battle for our metropolis and stay, it doesn’t matter what Israel does in its tireless effort to erase us.
The views expressed on this article are the writer’s personal and don’t essentially mirror Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.