Violence provoked by right-wing zealots, who want the regime to take control of al-Aqsa Mosque compound and allow the Zionist settlers on the entire site, has spilled over beyond the predominantly Palestinian areas of the West Bank and East al-Qods into Israel itself. It has the potential to spark a third Palestinian intifada (uprising) or even a bitter religious civil war. Jean Shaoul, Emeritus Professor from the University of Manchester, has more on in this regard.
It could also ignite protests throughout the Arab world, disrupting Israel’s relations with Washington, and its Arab and Muslim neighbors that it has been covertly aiding in the US-backed war in a futile attempt to topple the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. So tense is the situation that Netanyahu cancelled his recent meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. Instead, speaking alongside his military and security chiefs, at his first press conference since the violence erupted in September, Netanyahu said, “Hateful terrorists are trying to hurt our people.” He blamed Resistant movement Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and countries in the region for fomenting unrest over “lies” that Israel was seeking to change the arrangements at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound known as the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims and as Temple Mount to Jews.
Netanyahu has ordered the police to stop government ministers and Jewish and Palestinian legislators from entering the al-Aqsa compound, saying, “We do not need more detonators to ignite the ground.” He did so while stressing that his primary obligation was the security of Israel and for this he needed international support for “anti-terror” measures. After praising the Zionist regime security forces, which have martyred two Palestinian children and injured more than 1,600 Palestinians since October 3, he said, “Israel has always known how to push back the terrorists and build the country.”
These repressive measures follow the dispatch of four additional Israeli forces battalions to the Nablus area in the northern part of the West Bank, which was put on lockdown, and the banning of Palestinians under 40 years of age from the al-Aqsa compound. Police reinforcements have been sent to the Old City and the surrounding area, and barricades have been erected all over East al-Qods. The 35-acre al-Aqsa complex in the Old City, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is the third holiest site in Islam. The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism. It was Ariel Sharon’s provocative march into the al-Aqsa compound, escorted by a massive armed guard in September 2000, that sparked the second intifada.
Numerous attempts have been made to bring the compound under Israeli control as part of longstanding Zionist plans to Judaicize the city, remove most of its Palestinian inhabitants and surround it with Jewish settlements—thereby cutting East al-Qods off from its Palestinian hinterland. The aim is to remove any possibility of the Palestinians claiming East al-Qods as the capital of a future Palestinian state. The usurper regime’s premier claims to be committed to the status quo. But he has repeatedly allowed provocations in the al-Aqsa compound, which has become the focal point of the right-wing settler project to take control of the entire West Bank.
Tensions have risen markedly since the end of August after police prevented Palestinians from entering the area between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m., while allowing right-wing Israeli groups under heavy guard to tour the compound, in defiance of objections raised by the Islamic Endowment.
Protests and demonstrations erupted all over the West Bank and East al-Qods, resulting in frequent clashes with the security forces in which dozens of Palestinians and several soldiers were injured. Since then, the violence has escalated. Just recently, six Israelis were wounded and an assailant shot dead in separate stabbing attacks in Tel Aviv, East al-Qods and the West Bank.
There have been violent incidents outside the occupied territories, including the suburbs of Tel Aviv and towns in southern occupied lands called Israel. Recently, an Israeli man went on a stabbing spree, wounding three Palestinians and an Arab citizen. Police arrested the man but did not identify him, although they said his motive for the attacks was “nationalistic.” An Israeli Arab woman tried to stab a security guard at the central bus station in Afula, an Israeli city near the West Bank, but was shot and taken to hospital.
In Bethlehem, Israeli security forces shot and martyred a 13-year-old boy returning home from school during clashes with local youth. His death, the sixth Palestinian child martyred by the Zionist military or settlers in the West Bank this year, followed an announcement by Netanyahu that Israel was “at war” with stone throwers, and prompted further demonstrations and clashes.
Video footage of the clashes in the West Bank has emerged showing Israeli undercover soldiers dressed as Palestinians taking part in the stone throwing, before suddenly drawing their concealed weapons and turning on the Palestinians to carry out arrests. The Israeli army has not as yet commented on the footage, but the practice is reportedly widespread.
Zionist settlers in the West Bank have carried out numerous attacks on Palestinians, their homes, cars, orchards and mosques that go unpunished. According to the Palestinian organization Ahrar Centre for Detainees’ Studies and Human Rights, there were at least 126 attacks or acts of vandalism against Palestinians during the first four days of October. In al-Qods, Israeli mobs have gone on the rampage chanting, “Death to the Arabs” and assaulting bystanders.
For the past week, the settlers, whose leaders in the Yisrael Beiteinu, the Jewish Home party, Likud and various religious parties have criticized Netanyahu for his “soft” approach towards the Palestinians, have camped outside his official residence in al-Qods. They are demanding further measures against the Palestinians and the building of a new settlement for every Palestinian attack.
A crucial weapon in Netanyahu’s armory is the Palestinian Authority headed by President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas called on Palestinians to avoid an “escalation” with Israel, confirming his role as somehow Israel’s policeman. Unforrtuanately, he told a meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee in Ramallah, “We do not want a military or security escalation between us and them.”
By the way, many Muslim countries, including the Islamic Republic of Iran, condemned the Israeli regime’s brutal attacks on the defenseless Palestinian people, and warned that Palestine is on the verge of the 3rd Intifada. The current events and incidents in the occupied territories and the positions and remarks made by the Zionist officials in reaction to the reescalation of the wrath and hatred of the Palestinian society as well as the range of the defensive and retaliating measures of the resistance forces have made the leaders of the fake and occupying Israeli regime feel desperate and frightened. The trend of the developments in the occupied territories shows this reality more than anything else that Palestine is on the threshold of the third Intifada and taking a hard revenge from the Zionist regime, whose hands are stained with the blood of thousands of innocent people, including women and children in the Palestinian lands, let alone its notorious plots in the region.