This afternoon I went to the old city of Jerusalem.
It is like a Ghost Town. Very few Palestinians in the streets, many shops are closed, and so are most entries to Al Aqsa. The passages that remain open are heavily policed, only those above 55 and tourists are allowed in. The streets are full of mobile check points. Each street corner is occupied by a crowd of ‘Police Officers’ (basically soldiers with a different uniform). Israeli Settlers (to use that tautology for lack of a better word) are all over the place, across all neighbourhoods, walking in small groups, armed, confident, jubilant. In the street where the two armed settlers were killed, in the Muslim Quarter, a large crowd of their accomplices were holding a sit in: guitars, songs, candles and flags, as well as signs in English and Hebrew calling for ‘revenge’, for ‘retaliation’, for ‘justice’. They laugh and chat, for the most part in perfect north American English accents – or terrible Hebrew -, about ‘their neighbourhood’, ‘their land’, ‘their houses’. The whole area is tense, either very quiet or very loud. It feels ready to explode at any moment. The occupier is present with all its might. They also look ready to stay for a long time. Regular shift changes and police trucks full of water and food keep the soldiers going. Somehow many tourists continue their tours, admiring the beauty of the buildings, as if totally oblivious to the horror around them.
It is now an open question what will happen to Al Aqsa. It has effectively been turned into a restricted area except for tourists, an attraction. Will the state replay the trick it performed in Al Khalil (Hebron) and separate the holy place in two? One for Jews and one for Muslims? It seems like way more than a theoretical possibility.
Across the West Bank and Jerusalem people are getting organised and fighting back. We are nowhere near the third intifada so many are (hopefully) announcing on social media, but a shift seems to be taking place. Yesterday in Ramallah the PLO and the Islamic front released a joint statement calling for the formation of popular committees of self defence. People are fighting the army up and down the WB and East Jerusalem. Palestinians in Haifa and Nazareth have organised demonstrations. Schools in the Bethlehem area went on strike today in response to the army’s murder of a 13 year old boy in Aida Refugee camp. The boy was buried today and clashes are ongoing between the Israeli army and the people. All universities in the OPTs are also on strike for better conditions for the 3rd time in a week today.
The PA continues its role as an outsourced Israeli police force, with Abu Mazen calling on the police force to crush the demonstrations as quickly as possible. The Israeli army is increasing its attacks and over 500 Palestinians have been injured, and 9 ( I believe) killed in the last 72h. Israeli mobs are attacking Palestinians in the streets and shops of Jerusalem. Netanyahu is whipping up his men by extending repressive measures, encouraging police and soldiers to shoot to kill on stone and molotov cocktail throwers, ordering house demolitions for ‘terrorists’ families’ homes (worth noting that we will never know who killed the two armed settlers in Jerusalem given the Israelis just killed a kid and claimed he was responsible before attacking his family and his entire university), and use the opportunity to repress Hamas in the WB, and even striking on Gaza two nights ago.
Zionism is unleashing its military power once more on the Palestinian population, and the West continues to foot the bill and support the colonial project. Demonstrations, actions, and BDS campaigns should pop up across the globe in response to this situation. It won’t free Palestine or stop the current onslaught, but it can continue to increase the pressure on our leaders and their Israeli friends. It can make clear that the world is not only watching, but fighting back, in solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinian people, against colonialism and racial supremacy.
This post first appeared on Facebook.