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, each time violence erupts. And previously few weeks, we’ve got heard them but once more. There are not any two equal sides in Jerusalem.
The issue with these statements is that they whitewash the truth that Jerusalem is a metropolis underneath violent occupation and its occupier, Israel, has made its intent to slowly uproot the native inhabitants fairly public.
On 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 “either side” de-escalating.
This previous yr had been significantly violent for Palestinian Jerusalemites. The impression of COVID-19 on our group is dwarfed by the consequences of relentless harassment, arrests, residence demolition and displacement by the Israeli authorities, finally aimed on the ethnic cleaning of town.
Nobody ought to be stunned on the quantity of anger Palestinians maintain in the direction of the Israeli occupation authorities within the metropolis. Their encroachments on the rights of our group are countless and are immediately 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 just magical. It’s a time when Jerusalemites – younger and previous – come along with family and friends, stroll via the streets of town, purchase sweets, drink espresso, and benefit from the mild shows, impromptu music reveals and road performances.
You wouldn’t see Jerusalem come alive late at evening throughout another time of the yr. It’s a particular expertise that displays the sturdy 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On April 12, a day earlier than the beginning of Ramadan, I walked down the steps of Damascus Gate into the Outdated Metropolis to have my final hummus and falafel breakfast meal at Abu Shukri, earlier than starting the month-long quick. On my means, 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 lately, appeared like a militarised encampment.
There was no cause to arrange these obstacles at a preferred Ramadan hangout spot aside from to upset the Palestinians. The choice to bar West Financial institution Palestinians from visiting Jerusalem to wish at Al-Aqsa, citing an absence of vaccinations as an excuse, additional riled Jerusalemites.
The response was fast: on the primary day of Ramadan, April 13, a lot of younger individuals gathered on the Damascus Gate to protest in opposition to the arbitrary actions of the Israeli occupier. Over the next days, the protests grew, as Israeli provocations continued. On April 22, a whole lot of extremist Jews marched on the previous metropolis underneath the safety of the Israeli police, chanting “Demise to Arabs!” Palestinian youth had been relentless of their resistance.
13 days into Ramadan, on April 25, the barricades fell. I arrived a little bit after 9pm that evening, across the time when individuals had been starting to collect after Taraweeh prayers. Massive 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 nearly two weeks, Palestinian youth had been subjected to brutal suppression, getting crushed up, attacked with stun grenades and foul-smelling “skunk” water cannon, and detained. And whereas international media paid consideration to those dramatic pictures, it ignored utterly Israel’s different sustained campaigns of brutality in opposition to Jerusalemites.
Whereas Palestinian youth had been resisting encroachment on their public areas, some Jerusalemites had been going through brutal dispossession of their properties.
In Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, 500 Palestinians from 28 households are going through eviction from properties which have belonged to them for generations. In February, a court docket dominated that six Palestinian homes the place 27 individuals reside are to be handed over to Jewish settlers. Earlier this week, the court docket gave the Palestinian households 4 days to “attain an settlement” with the Jewish settlers, during which they’d surrender that they personal their properties in change for a delay of their eviction.
The appalling absurdity of the court docket choice is a main instance of Israel’s brutal occupation and ethnic cleaning insurance policies. In Israeli apartheid courts, there is no such thing as a justice for Palestinians. Greater than 200 households in East Jerusalem are prone to eviction because of comparable court docket circumstances filed in opposition to them.
The Palestinian households have vowed to withstand. In a single video that went viral previous to the court docket listening to, Sheikh Jarrah resident Muna al-Kurd is seen confronting a settler about stealing Palestinian properties, during which he replies with a heavy American accent “If I don’t steal it, another person will.” Half of al-Kurd’s residence had been taken over by Jewish settlers in 2009.
Residence 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 properties and buildings had been demolished in East Jerusalem, displacing 359 Palestinians, together with 167 youngsters.
In February, the Jerusalem Municipality requested the activation of demolition orders in opposition to some 70 Palestinian properties within the al-Bustan space of Silwan neighbourhood, adjoining to the Outdated Metropolis 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 properties demolished and households displaced to make means for a deliberate ring street that’s supposed to attach Israeli settlements within the southern West Financial institution to Jerusalem. In June 2020 alone, 23 buildings belonging to Palestinians had been demolished, ensuing within the displacement of 57 individuals, together with 34 youngsters.
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. Houses 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 residential demolitions. It additionally extends into the political sphere, the place the Israeli authorities proceed to disclaim the Jerusalemite Palestinians their political rights. They repeatedly 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 will not permit the Palestinian legislative elections, initially scheduled for Might 22, to be additionally held in East Jerusalem, the place practically 400,000 Palestinians reside. Israeli police repeatedly raided occasions that promoted the Palestinian elections and arrested Palestinian parliamentary candidates. In consequence, 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.
In contrast, Israelis dwelling 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 “Demise to Arabs!” in our streets.
Jerusalem might 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 properties by drive, to be instantly changed by Jewish settlers.
Over the weekend is Laylat al-Qadr, the one evening 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 via our streets and raiding Al-Aqsa, totally protected by the Israeli police, who put us underneath strict lockdown. However we is not going to passively watch on.
Israel does its finest to make life for Jerusalem’s Palestinians a distress and a relentless battle. It does the whole lot to make us disappear. However we is not going to. On daily basis, we face police brutality, arrests, residence evictions and demolitions, impoverishment and a denial of primary human rights. The occupier’s violence is a everlasting function of our lives.
However 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 replicate Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.