In the West Bank, Resistance Rises as the PA Crumbles

Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360°

The Palestinian resistance factions of the West Bank are no longer fractured and in disarray, and the results speak for themselves

The Israeli army’s recent incursions into the cities and refugee camps of the northern occupied-West Bank are not going as smoothly as before.

The occupation army’s incursions into the city of Jenin and Jenin refugee camp in early September required the mobilization of large forces, including special units and armored vehicles – in scale, unprecedented since 2014.

On the night of 6 September, a force of about 100 vehicles carried out a raid in Jenin, supported by air with drones, and on land, by hundreds of soldiers from Israel’s elite military units.

Their task? To demolish the house of Ra’ad Hazem, who carried out the Dizengoff attack in Tel Aviv on 7 April, 2022. More than anything, this excessive military build-up over a single home demolition illustrates that the Israeli military can no longer operate in the West Bank as they did before the May 2021 ‘Sayf Al Quds’ conflagration – and its subsequent developments.

After the 6 September operation – which resulted in the death of three Israelis and wounded 14 – the occupation army launched Operation ‘Break the Waves’ in response to the rapid expansion of Palestinian resistance factions and fervor in the West Bank.

The re-emergence of resistance in the West Bank

Break the Waves’ objective, according to then-Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, was to “attack without borders in order to stop the [resistance] operations” – four of which were carried out in cities in occupied territories – and to destroy the infrastructure of the resistance factions in Jenin and Nablus.

Five months after the Tel Aviv attack, the situation in the West Bank remains tense and is heading toward further escalation. In the interim, three new resistance battalions have been announced in Nablus, Tulkarm and Tubas.

Between 2007 and 2021, the resistance factions, particularly Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), remained stuck in a vicious cycle. The enemy’s surgical strikes were hindering their proactive initiatives, and until 2020, their activities were limited to the formation of fighting cells that were able to carry out one or two attacks before being incapacitated.

Since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, Palestinian Authority (PA) security services have fully collaborated with the occupation authorities to pursue these resistance factions, for fear of having the Gaza model repeated in the West Bank.

The genesis lies in Jenin

The rejuvenation of resistance in the occupied West Bank can be attributed to the martyr Jamil al-Amouri. A prominent figure in the Jenin camp, Amouri was considered the most “wanted” by the occupation state for carrying out several shooting attacks against Israeli positions around Jenin, during the 2021 battle of Sayf al-Quds.

He effectively contributed to the formation of active military cells inside the camp, which later went on to form the nucleus of the Jenin Brigade.

In early June 2021, Amouri was assassinated, along with Lieutenant Adham Yasser Tawfiq Alawi from Nablus, and Captain Tayseer Mahmoud Othman Eissa from Jenin. The deaths of a PIJ commander along with two officers from the PA’s Military Intelligence effectively broke the ice between the PIJ on the one hand, and the Fatah movement and members of the security services in Jenin and Nablus, on the other.

This also led to a subtle change in the popular resistance factions’ perception of the PA security services, who for years have been accused of being agents of the occupation.

As political researcher Muhammad Dargham told The Cradle: “The martyrdom of Amouri with two officers from the security services removed the veil from the eyes of many supporters of the [Palestinian] Authority and the Fatah who woke up after thirteen years and found themselves guards of security coordination with Israel.”

PIJ and Fatah: setting aside differences

According to Dargham, the killing of Amouri, Alawi, and Eissa created harmony – at least in the Jenin camp – between the Al-Quds Brigades and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades – the respective armed wings of the PIJ and Fatah.

Three months after Amouri’s murder, five Palestinian prisoners belonging to the PIJ movement, along with the leader of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, Zakaria Al-Zubaidi, managed to escape from Gilboa Prison, the most fortified of all Israeli prisons. Two of the six, Ayham Kamamji and Monadel Nafeat, managed to reach Jenin refugee camp.

By 19 September, 2021, all escapees were re-captured. However the date is also notable for the establishment of the Jenin Brigade – the first semi-organized resistance formation in the West Bank in 17 years. Importantly, while the Brigade was founded by PIJ operatives, it also consists of members of the armed wings of political rivals Hamas and Fatah.

Resistance spreads like wild fire

For many years, Israel ruled out the success of any semi-organized resistance action in the West Bank cities and refugee camps. This is due to the occupation’s adoption of a “maximum integration” policy that linked all aspects of the daily lives of Palestinians in the West Bank to Israel.

The occupation also adopted its “mowing the lawn” policy, which sought to target all resistances cells by arresting or killing its members.

These strategies were designed to send the message that any attempt to resist is doomed to failure, and the fate of those who undertake it will be life imprisonment or assassination.

However, what transpired in September 2021 was different from all Israeli estimates. The Jenin Brigade maintained its military continuity, and the attempts to storm the Jenin refugee camp became much more costly for the Israelis.

Previously, any Israeli force that invaded the camp was met with stone-throwing and firecrackers. But over the course of a year and three months, the alliance of Al-Quds Brigades and Al-Aqsa Brigades raised the bar considerably, and stands as testament to the benefits of a united armed front for the resistance.

This was noticeable about a year after the launch of the Jenin Brigade. On 24 May, 2022, clashes erupted in the area of the Prophet Joseph’s tomb, near Balata and Askar refugee camps, east of Nablus. Israeli settlers used to enter this area without any confrontation except for stone throwing.

On that day, though, the confrontations developed into an armed clash that seemed organized and with purpose. A few days later, Al-Quds Brigades issued a statement announcing the launch of the Nablus Brigade.

One month earlier, three resistance fighters from the Al-Quds Brigades were killed in a clash with the Israeli army. One of the three, Saif Abu Libdeh, from the Ain Shams camp in Tulkarem, had worked for months to establish the infrastructure for a group that would be announced six weeks after his death, under the name Tulkarem Brigade. This was followed by the formation of another battalion – the Tubas Brigade in June.

The occupation state: feeling the heat

According to the Israeli army’s Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi, the occupation forces have foiled “hundreds of operations” since the beginning of the Operation Break the Wave, and carried out more than 1,500 precautionary arrests.

Indeed, the first half of this year witnessed more than 3,700 Palestinian attacks in the West Bank, during which 21 settlers were killed and 316 wounded, including 2,692 attacks with stones, 577 with Molotov cocktails, 542 with burning tires, 33 with explosive devices, 30 with fireworks, 25 with paint bottles, 14 shootings, 1 case of hit and run, 4 cases of stabbing (with 7 foiled).

However, these numbers maybe underrepresented. For instance, in one week alone (28 August to 3 September 2022), 12 soldiers and settlers were injured, and about 90 points of confrontation were observed, including one stabbing attack, 22 shooting attacks, and 15 throwing explosive devices and Molotov cocktails.

Point of no return

There is consensus among the Israeli security establishment, think-tanks, and military analysts that the situation on the ground in the West Bank has reached a point of no return. The question that worries Israel is: Is it possible to eliminate the new resistance developments – or at least keep them confined to the northern West Bank and prevent their expansion to southern cities such as Hebron and Bethlehem, or central cities such as Jerusalem and Ramallah?

This Israeli concern is justified considering that the beginning of September bore serious consequences for the Israelis. On 4 September, three Palestinians from Jenin (a father and his two sons) shot at a bus carrying Kfir unit recruits in the Jordan Valley, injuring more than seven Israeli soldiers.

Until now, the results of the investigations have not been announced, but it seems that the attack was carefully planned in terms of timing, and choice of location, where there were fewer surveillance cameras at work.

A few days later, the Israeli army aborted an attempt by a Palestinian youth from Nablus from carrying out an operation in central Tel Aviv. The police suggested that the young man “infiltrated through a hole in the wall in the Tulkarem area,” where the army deployed three infantry battalions to thwart further attempts.

There is yet another event that suggests the resistance action in the West Bank is growing. At dawn, on Thursday 8 September, members of the Jenin Brigade detonated a locally manufactured explosive device targeting a military jeep during a raid of one of the neighboring camps.

It turned out that the device was controlled remotely, which represented a major technical development for the resistance factions, whose infrastructure was destroyed at the end of the Second Intifada.

Israelis are fanning the flames

The Israeli Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv believes that the PIJ has succeeded in transforming the northern West Bank into a hotbed of resistance, as well as in smuggling weapons and money to Palestinian cities and camps.

These concerns coincide with expressed doubts over the efficacy of Israel’s “mowing the lawn” policy, which has fueled the “vicious cycle of blood,” according to Amos Harel, a military analyst writing for Haaretz newspaper.

In an article he wrote earlier this month, Harel asked whether the Israeli army is quelling the West Bank’s flames, or actually fanning them.

Avi Iskharov, an analyst in Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, opined that Israel is facing a “new situation” that is not similar to the two previous intifadas of 1987 and 2000, pointing out that “there are pockets of Palestinian gunmen in Nablus and Jenin (in the northern West Bank), who clash almost every night with the army and shoot at Israeli targets.”

Sources close to the resistance brigades in the West Bank told The Cradle that “Israel’s concerns are exaggerated for use in the upcoming election campaign.”

“What we are seeing today is the result of years of [resistance] efforts. As the train has set off, returning to the starting point means acceptance of our mass killing, and this is out of the question,” says one Palestinian source.

Israel: The PA is not collaborating enough

The Israelis have sought to place the blame for their inability to eliminate the resistance brigades and to abort operations in the occupied territories squarely on the PA in Ramallah, who they feel are failing to fulfill their obligations.

Israel’s Kan channel quoted an Israeli official as saying that “the Palestinian security services should increase their activity in the cities of the West Bank to prevent further escalation.”

As for the Palestinians, the corruption-ridden PA is too weak to play a pivotal role in curbing the resistance which enjoys broad Palestinian popular support. Any further association made between the PA with the Israeli security campaigns will make it lose what is left of its flagging legitimacy.

The Hebrew Walla website quoted Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh, the PA’s channel of communication with the Israelis, as saying: “It is Israel that has weakened the [Palestinian] Authority through daily incursions into the Palestinian areas.”

“The authority cannot accept a reality in which the army storms the occupied territories every night, then we are asked to work during the day against the militants,” added Sheikh.

A dawn of a new era in the West Bank

Meanwhile, the US has been keen to help prop up the PA and help it “restore stability,” by taking measures such as “increasing the number of work permits for Palestinians” in the occupied territories, “pumping economic aid to the Authority from various sources,” and facilitating the movement of Palestinians.

US Assistant Secretary of State for Middle Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf, who recently visited Israel and met with senior security officials, warned that “the situation in the West Bank is worse than it appears and the future of the entire PA is under threat.”

In the early hours of 20 September, PA security forces in Nablus arrested Musab Shtayyeh, a Hamas commander wanted by Israel. Later that day, clashes broke out between the PA and hundreds of Palestinians who hit the streets in protest.

Resistance factions are demanding Shtayyeh’s immediate release and are threatening to bar the PA from Nablus until this is done.

In a video addressing the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian resistance in Jenin cautioned: “we do not want to fight with you, but stay away from us. If you deal in kidnapping, we will also deal in kidnapping.”

The Authority’s unelected President Mahmoud Abbas is in a bind: he fears mutiny from within for collaborating with Israeli security, and fears punishment from Israel for not doing so.

By not adopting a conclusive direction, on a daily basis Abbas drains the PA of further legitimacy and authority, as demonstrated in Nablus today.

In terms of the prospects for Palestinian national liberation, this at least will be a welcome development, as the decline or demise of the western and Israeli-backed PA will open a wide door to revitalized armed resistance in the occupied West Bank.

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Sword of Jerusalem II has begun and there is no room for negotiation

Israel may have miscalculated, again. The PIJ resistance it has brutally targeted in Gaza and the West Bank wants to take this confrontation until the liberation of Palestine

August 06 2022

By Abdel Bari Atwan

Only about half of the 160 rockets (Israel says 400+) fired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) on the mass of Israeli settlements flanking the Gaza Strip were intercepted by Israel’s US-funded Iron Dome systems.

This, in itself, is a major military and psychological achievement for the Palestinian resistance. The settlers have lost their security, their time to leave has come.

The PIJ cleverly handled the pre-battle phase by stepping up armed military confrontations in the West Bank, entering into strategic operational coordination with Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade – particularly in Jenin, Nablus and Tulkarem – and besieging and forcing a curfew on more than 1.5 million Israelis in the southern settlements adjacent to the Gaza Strip.

These confrontations were in retaliation for Israel’s targeting of PIJ’s cadres throughout Palestinian territories this summer. But it was the Israeli leadership which decided on war and must take responsibility for the consequences of its decision, regionally and internationally. The PIJ lured Tel Aviv to war without firing a single missile, and herein lies the miracle.

A war or a skirmish?

The battle is still in its infancy, and in its first two days was limited to the PIJ alone, which stands with its resistance fighters in the face of the mighty Israeli military machine.

The participation of other Palestinian factions in the battlefield, especially Hamas, is still not excluded.

The PIJ’s announcement on Saturday that its military forces are mobilized and prepared may be the first step to what comes next.

It is Israel that began the airstrikes and violated its commitments to previous agreements, most notably by initiating and executing a campaign to assassinate PIJ leaders: most recently Tayseer Al-Jabari, their field commander in the Gaza Strip, and a number of his fellow fighters. For this, Tel Aviv will now have to pay a heavy price.

The resistance in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and their constituents are rushing to join Hamas and its fighters, missiles, drones, and frogmen into the confrontation; to provide protection to the more than two million Palestinians currently under Israel’s absolute rule in Gaza.

The most frequent question asked in the West Bank and Gaza Strip today is “where are Abu Obeida, Mohammad Deif, and Yahya al-Sinwar?” – in reference to the military spokesman of Hamas’ Al-Qassam Brigades, its supreme military commander, and Hamas’ political leader in Gaza, respectively. “How long will they be absent from this battle?”

Israel’s big problem 

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz may have launched the airstrikes on the Gaza Strip on Friday, but he will not be the one to decide the battle’s conclusion. As in the Sword of Jerusalem (Saif al-Quds) conflagration in May 2021, which Gantz incorrectly predicted would last at least a week, he cannot control the outcome of this fight.

That May, to Israel’s utter horror and confusion, for the first time in decades, West Bank, Gaza and 1948 Palestinians banded together to confront Israel over its provocative storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem. In one short month, Tel Aviv’s decades-long systematic efforts to separate and compartmentalize these three Palestinian areas was decimated.

Gantz, his army, and his prime minister (Benjamin Netanyahu) were impotent in the face of the multi-front Palestinian response. It was US President Joe Biden who begged Egyptian mediators for a quick intervention because Israel could not sustain the repercussions of one more missile hitting Tel Aviv.

Will Hamas join the fight?

It is clear that Hamas cannot stand by while Israeli raids kill children and bomb towers in the Gaza Strip.

Although somewhat restrained by its Turkish and Arab allies, Hamas – a resistance partner to the PIJ – must ultimately listen to its Palestinian, Arab and Muslim constituents, or risk losing much in the short and medium term.

Daoud Shihab, spokesman for the PIJ’s Al-Quds Brigades, has already said “No” to Arab mediators led by Egypt. The PIJ believes that this is not the time to calm down, but to confront Israel’s aggression, avenge the Palestinian martyrs and ask:

How dare the mediators resume their efforts, talk about ceasefires, and try to halt a justified Palestinian response. Did the Israeli enemy respect its commitments to rebuild the Gaza Strip, refrain from assassinating the leaders of the resistance, and ease years of a harrowing siege?

“We have been deceived by the mediators,” says Mohammad Al Hindi, a member of the Political Bureau of the PIJ movement.

When General Benny Gantz says that his current Gaza operation is to strike the entire PIJ network – in parallel with strikes directed by his security forces in the West Bank – he reveals his plan for a “fitna” (inner rebellion) to tear apart the unity of the resistance and instigate a factional war between the PIJ and Hamas movements. Greater awareness and discipline is required to thwart Gantz’s plan, specifically by Hamas.

On Friday night, the PIJ’s Secretary General Ziad Al-Nakhala declared in an on-air interview with Al-Mayadeen that this war is open: there are no red lines and it will continue until victory.

Nakhala also said he may issue instructions to the PIJ delegation to refuse Egyptian mediation in Cairo, and halt ceasefire negotiations that will serve Israel’s interests only and save Tel Aviv from this trap it fell into with eyes wide open.

A war until liberation?

This is a war that will last. It comes as a precious gift to the Palestinian people and their resistance, and the coming days will reveal shocking and terrifying surprises for the Israelis that will send millions of them into shelters and global isolation.

Hezbollah’s Hisham Safieddine, executive council chairman of the Lebanese resistance movement, recently said: “The resistance has obtained strategic weapons that will break the balance of power, and the enemy’s attempt to prevent their arrival has failed.”

To this he added: “we must be present and not be affected by propaganda media campaigns that want to undermine our capabilities – by the Israeli, US and Gulf media and some of their ‘mignons’ in Lebanon. We will not give up our wealth [natural resources] in our territorial waters,” which means that the gas war is very imminent.

We are facing a war that may have begun in the Gaza Strip, but could, with just one ill-timed spark, transform into a regional war involving many other resistance factions. This comes at a time when western colonialism is facing two major power wars – in Ukraine (with Russia) and East Asia (with China).

Millions anticipating the appearance of Hamas’ Abu Obeida with his red kefiyah may not have to wait long. The Sword of Jerusalem II is in the running to be a much larger and more dangerous confrontation than the Sword of Jerusalem I.

Airports may close very soon, and thousands of Israeli settlers may take to the seas in search of safety from the retaliatory missiles of the resistance. Watch this space and its developments in the coming days.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

Why Resistance Matters: Palestinians are Challenging Israel’s Unilateralism, Dominance

August 3, 2022

Palestinians take part in a rally in Gaza. (Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Ramzy Baroud

Until recently, Israeli politics did not matter to Palestinians. Though the Palestinian people maintained their political agency under the most demoralizing conditions, their collective action rarely influenced outcomes in Israel, partly due to the massive discrepancy of power between the two sides.

Now that Israelis are embarking on their fifth election in less than four years, it is important to raise the question: “How do Palestine and the Palestinians factor in Israeli politics?”

Israeli politicians and media, even those who are decrying the failure of the ‘peace process’, agree that peace with the Palestinians is no longer a factor, and that Israeli politics almost entirely revolves around Israel’s own socio-economic, political and strategic priorities.

This, however, is not exactly true.

While it is appropriate to argue that none of Israel’s mainstream politicians are engaged in dialogue about Palestinian rights, a just peace or co-existence, Palestine remains a major factor in the election campaigning of most of Israel’s political parties. Instead of advocating peace, these camps advocate sinister ideas, ranging from the expansion of illegal Jewish settlements to the rebuilding of the ‘Third Temple’ – thus the destruction of Al-Aqsa Mosque. The former is represented by ex Israeli Prime Ministers Benjamin Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett, and the latter in more extremist characters like Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich.

Hence, Palestine has always factored in Israeli politics in such a vulgar way. Even before the establishment of the state of Israel on the ruins of historic Palestine in 1948, the Zionist movement understood that a ‘Jewish state’ can only exist and maintain its Jewish majority through force, and only when Palestine and the Palestinian people cease to exist.

“Zionism is a colonizing adventure and, therefore, it stands or falls on the question of armed forces”, Zionist ideologue Ze’ev Jabotinsky wrote nearly 100 years ago. This philosophy of violence continues to permeate Zionist thought to this day. “You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs. You have to dirty your hands,” said Israeli historian, Benny Morris in a 2004 interview, in reference to the Nakba and the subsequent dispossession of the Palestinian people.

Until the war of 1967, Palestinian and Arab states mattered, to some extent, to Israel. Palestinian and Arab resistance cemented Palestinian political agency for decades. However, the devastating outcome of the war, which, once again, demonstrated the centrality of violence to Israel’s existence, relegated Palestinians and almost entirely sidelined the Arabs.

Since then, Palestinians mattered to Israel based almost exclusively on Israeli priorities. For example, Israeli leaders flexed their muscles before their triumphant constituencies by attacking Palestinian training camps in Jordan, Lebanon and elsewhere. Palestinians also factored in as Israel’s new cheap labor force. In some ironic but also tragic way, it was the Palestinians who built Israel following the humiliating defeat of the Naksa, or the Setback.

The early stages of the ‘peace process’, especially during the Madrid talks in 1991, gave the false impression that the Palestinian agency is finally translating to tangible outcomes; this hope quickly evaporated as illegal Jewish settlements continued to expand, and Palestinians continued to lose their land and lives at an unprecedented rate.

The ultimate example of Israel’s complete disregard for Palestinians was the so-called ‘disengagement plan’ carried out in Gaza by late Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2005. The Israeli government believed that Palestinians were inconsequential to the point that the Palestinian leadership was excluded from any phase of the Israeli scheme. The approximately 8,500 illegal Jewish settlers of Gaza were merely resettled in other illegally occupied Palestinian land and the Israeli army simply redeployed from Gaza’s heavily populated areas to impose a hermetic blockade on the impoverished Strip.

The Gaza siege apparatus remains in effect to this day. The same applies to every Israeli action in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem.

Due to their understanding of Zionism and experience with Israeli behavior, generation after generation of Palestinians rightly believed that the outcome of Israeli politics can never be favorable to Palestinian rights and political aspirations. The last few years, however, began altering this belief. Though Israeli politics have not changed – in fact, pivoted further to the right – Palestinians, wittingly or otherwise, became direct players in Israeli politics.

Israeli politics has historically been predicated on the need for further colonialism, strengthening the Jewish identity of the state at the expense of Palestinians, and constant quest for war. Recent events suggest that these factors are no longer controlled by Israel alone.

The popular resistance in occupied East Jerusalem and the growing rapport between it and various other forms of resistance throughout Palestine are reversing Israel’s previous success in segmenting Palestinian communities, thus dividing the Palestinian struggle among different factions, regions and priorities. The fact that Israel is forced to seriously consider Gaza’s response to its annual provocation in Jerusalem, known as the ‘Flag March’, perfectly illustrates this.

As demonstrated time and again, the growing resistance throughout Palestine is also denying Israeli politicians the chance to wage war for votes and political status within Israel. For example, Netanyahu’s desperate war in May 2021 did not save his government, which collapsed shortly after. Bennett, a year later, hoped that his ‘Flag March’ would provoke a Palestinian response in Gaza that would buy his crumbling coalition more time. The strategic decision by Palestinian groups not to respond to Israel’s provocations thwarted Bennett’s plans. His government, too, collapsed shortly after.

Still, a week following the dismantling of Israel’s latest coalition, groups in Gaza released a video of a captured Israeli who was presumed dead, sending a message to Israel that the resistance in the Strip still has more cards at its disposal. The video raised much attention in Israel, compelling the new Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid to assert that Israel has “a sacred obligation to bring home” its captives.

All these new elements have a direct impact on Israeli politics, policies and calculations, even if the Israelis continue to deny the obvious impact of Palestinians, their resistance and political strategies.

The reason why Israel refuses to acknowledge Palestinian political agency is that, in doing so, Tel Aviv would have no other alternative but to engage Palestinians as partners in a political process that could guarantee justice, equality and peaceful co-existence. Until this just peace is realized, Palestinians will continue to resist. The sooner Israel acknowledges this inescapable reality, the better.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

WORSENING CHAOS: ISRAEL’S POLITICAL INSTABILITY IS NOW THE NORM

JULY 15TH, 2022

FILE – Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett makes a call before voting on a law on the legal status of Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank, during a session of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, in Jerusalem, June 6, 2022. Nir Orbach, a member of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s party, said Monday, June 13, 2022, he would cease voting with the governing coalition, dealing yet another blow to the teetering government as it marks one year in office. (AP Photo/ Maya Alleruzzo, File)

Source

Even if a purportedly centrist or even leftist prime minister finds himself at the helm of the government, outcomes will not change when the Knesset – in fact, most of the country – is governed by a militaristic, chauvinistic, and colonial mindset.

By Dr. Ramzy Baroud

The collapse of the short-lived Israeli government of Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid validates the argument that the political crisis in Israel was not entirely instigated and sustained by former Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Bennett’s coalition government consisted of eight parties, welding together arguably one of the oddest coalitions in the tumultuous history of Israeli politics. The mishmash cabinet included far-right and right groups like Yamina, Yisrael Beiteinu, and New Hope, along with centrist Yesh Atid and Blue and White, leftist Meretz, and even an Arab party, the United Arab List (Ra’am). The coalition also had representatives from the Labor Party, once the dominant Israeli political camp, now almost completely irrelevant.

When the coalition was formed in June 2021, Bennett was celebrated as some kind of a political messiah, who was ready to deliver Israel from the grip of the obstinate, self-serving and corrupt Netanyahu.

Confidence in Bennett’s government, however, was misplaced. The millionaire politician was a protégé of Netanyahu and, on many occasions, appeared to stand to the right of the Likud party leader on various issues. In 2013, Bennett proudly declared “I have killed lots of Arabs in my life – and there is no problem with that.” In 2014, he was very critical of Netanyahu for failing to achieve Israel’s objectives in one of the deadliest wars on besieged Gaza. Moreover, Bennett’s core support comes from Israel’s most extreme and far-right constituency.

Many wished to ignore all of this, in the hope that Bennett would succeed in ousting his former boss. That possibility became very real when Netanyahu was officially indicted in November 2019 on various serious corruption charges.

When Bennett and Lapid’s government was officially sworn in, on June 13, 2021, it seemed as if a new era of Israeli politics had begun. It was understood that Israel’s political camps had finally found their common denominator. Netanyahu, meanwhile, was exiled to the ranks of the opposition. His news began to peter out, especially as he sank deeper into his ongoing corruption trial.

Though some analysts continue to blame Netanyahu for the various crises suffered by Bennett’s coalition – for example, when Idit Silman resigned her post on April 6, leaving the coalition government with only 60 seats in the Knesset. But there is little proof of that. The short-lived Israeli government has collapsed under the weight of its own contradictions.

Would the actions of the government that ruled over Israel between June 2021 and June 2022 have been any different if Netanyahu was still the Israeli prime minister? Not in the least. Illegal Jewish settlements continue to grow unhindered; home demolitions, the dispossession of Palestinian communities in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem and various routine acts of Israeli aggression against its Arab state neighbors remained unchanged.

According to United Nations data, 79 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank by the Israeli army between June 2021 and May 2022. The region of Masafer Yatta, a 36-square km area located in the Southern Hebron Hills, has been designated for total annexation by the Israeli army. The expulsion of the area’s 1,200 Palestinian residents has already begun.

Regarding occupied Jerusalem, specifically in the case of the so-called Flag March, Bennett has proved to be even more extreme than Netanyahu. Bernard Avishai writes in The New Yorker that, in 2021, “Netanyahu’s government changed the march’s route away from the Damascus Gate to minimize the chance of violence”, while the ‘change government’ – a reference to Bennett’s coalition – “had reinstated the route, and even permitted more than two thousand national-Orthodox activists, including the extremist national-camp Knesset member Itamar Ben-Gvir,” to conduct their provocative ‘visits’ to Haram Al-Sharif,  one of Islam’s holiest sites.

This is not to suggest that a return of Netanyahu, following the now scheduled November elections – Israel’s fifth general elections in less than four years – would be a welcome change. Instead, experience has shown that, regardless of who rules Israel, the political attitude of the country, especially towards Palestinians, would most likely remain unchanged.

True, Israeli politics are known to be unstable. This instability, however, worsened in recent decades. Since 1996, the average Israeli government has not served more than 2.6 years. But since April 2019, the average dramatically shrank to less than a year per government. The long-standing argument was that Netanyahu’s domineering and polarizing attitude was to blame. The last year, however, has demonstrated that Netanyahu was a mere symptom of Israel’s pre-existing political malaise.

Some Israeli analysts suggest that Israel’s political crisis can only end when the country institutes electoral and constitutional reforms. That, however, would be a superficial fix; after all, much of Israel’s parliamentary and electoral laws have been in effect for many years, when governments were relatively stable.

For Israel to change, a language of peace and reconciliation would have to replace the current atmosphere of incitement and war. Israeli politicians, who are currently fanning the flames, jockeying for positions and feeding on the violent chants of their supporters, would have to be transformed into something else entirely, a near impossibility in the current hate-filled atmosphere throughout the country.

Chances are Israel’s political crises will continue to loom large; coalitions will be assembled, only to collapse soon after; politicians will continue to move to the right even if they allege to be members of other ideological camps. Israel’s political instability is now the norm, not the exception.

In an interview with CNN, Yohanan Plesner, a former Member of the Knesset (MK), said that the problem is Israel’s need for “electoral and constitutional reforms, such as making any attempt to initiate early elections dependent on a two-thirds majority in parliament and amending the current law that demands new elections when a budget fails to pass.”

What Israelis refuse to face is the fact that governments which are predicated on right-wing, far-right, extremist constituencies are inherently unstable. Even if a purportedly centrist or even leftist prime minister finds himself at the helm of the government, outcomes will not change when the Knesset – in fact, most of the country – is governed by a militaristic, chauvinistic, and colonial mindset.

Saudi Arabia to Grant the Zionist Enemy Ultimate Freedom of Navigation

July 1, 2022

By Staff

The United States, “Israel”, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt are reportedly close to clinching a deal over two strategic islands in the Red Sea, Tiran and Sanafir. That’s according to Barak Ravid, a political affairs commentator for “Israel’s” Walla! website.

Ravid quotes three senior “Israeli” officials who claim that the parties are inching towards finalizing a set of agreements, understandings, and guarantees ahead of an upcoming visit to the region by US President Joe Biden.

Ravid argues that the deal “will constitute an important achievement for the Biden administration in the Middle East.” He also thinks that it may pave the way for a gradual process of normalization between Saudi Arabia and “Israel.”

Ravid points out the obvious: “Israel” and the Saudis don’t have official diplomatic relations, and therefore, cannot directly sign a formal agreement regarding the two islands.

As such, the participating sides are trying to come up with creative legal and diplomatic solutions to close the agreement through indirect contacts. Ravid adds that in recent months, the Biden administration mediated quiet negotiations between Saudi Arabia, “Israel” and Egypt over a deal that would complete the transfer of the two islands from Egypt to Saudi Arabia.

According to Ravid, the question was raised at the heart of the negotiations about how to respond to Saudi Arabia’s request to remove international observers from the two islands while at the same time maintaining the security arrangements and political guarantees requested by “Israel.”

For their part, the “Israelis” wants to ensure that Egyptian guarantees in the context of the so-called “peace” agreement bind the Saudis as well, especially with regard to an agreement allowing “Israeli” ships to freely sail through the Strait of Tiran to and from the port of Eilat.

Two senior “Israeli” officials told Walla! that Saudi Arabia agreed to take upon itself all Egyptian guarantees, including the obligation to preserve freedom of navigation.

“Israeli” officials said that the outgoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, the new Prime Minister Yair Lapid, and War Minister Benny Gantz were briefed in recent days about the details of the plan to complete the agreement and agreed on its principles.

According to the plan, Saudi Arabia will sign an agreement with Egypt regarding the two islands, and in return, it will send a memorandum to the United States detailing its commitment to freedom of navigation and security arrangements.

The Biden administration will then transfer to “Israel” a memorandum detailing the Saudi commitment to freedom of navigation and will provide American guarantees to monitor the level of compliance.

An “Israeli” official said that Gantz and relevant parties within the security establishment believe that the plan preserves “Israel’s” security interests in the Red Sea and support the move.

“Parallel to finalizing the agreement on the two islands, it is expected that Saudi Arabia will announce that it will allow planes belonging to “Israeli” shipping companies to use Saudi airspace on their way to the east, especially to India and China,” the source adds.

But Ravid clarifies that while the negotiating parties are close to inking a deal, the plan has not been finalized and the agreement and guarantees are still being worked out.

‘Israel’ murders young Palestinian in Jenin Camp

June 30, 2022

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

Muhammad Maher Marei succumbed to the serious wounds that he sustained by Israeli occupation forces during their storming of the neighborhood of Jenin at dawn today.

Young Palestinian martyr Muhammad Maher Marei

Israeli occupation forces (IOF) directly opened live fire at young Palestinian Muhammad Maher Marei, 25, during a raid on Jenin Camp at dawn today.

The director of Khalil Suleiman Governmental Hospital confirmed to local Palestinian media that the young man from Jenin camp died as a result of being shot by occupation forces at dawn during confrontations in the city.

Using excessive force, the IOF arrested two young men, Yahya Yousef Al-Jaafar and Ahmed Asaad Nabhan, after raiding the homes of their relatives in Al-Marah neighborhood in Jenin.

Simultaneously, Palestinians participated in a mass rally in protest of the Israeli violations through Jenin’s neighborhoods.

Protesters held the body of the martyr on their shoulders and chanted slogans condemning the occupation’s crimes and its ongoing aggression against Jenin.

They also called for national Palestinian unity and the continuation of the struggle against the Israeli enemy.

The Israeli occupation forces have been actively storming Jenin Camp, aiming clearly at killing Palestinians and arresting others who, in turn, are confronting the occupation forces.

This is happening as Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet has recently given a green light for killing Palestinians.

“There are not and will not be limited for this war. We are granting full freedom of action to the army, the Shin Bet [domestic intelligence agency], and all security forces,” Bennet said last April.

Since the beginning of 2022, the IOF killed more than 70 Palestinians, 27 of them from Jenin and its camp including Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was covering an Israeli raid in Jenin.

The assassination of Shireen Abu Akleh

When talking about Jenin, the name of Shireen Abu Akleh, famed Al Jazeera journalist and veteran reporter, comes to mind. Shireen was murdered on May 11 when Israeli occupation forces storming the Jenin refugee camp, north of the West Bank, shot her with a live bullet to the head as she was covering the events of the storming.

Read more: Forensic analysis proves IOF deliberately killed Shireen Abu Akleh

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الكيان طبل أجوف ولا حرب «إسرائيليّة» في الأفق

الإثنين 13 حزيران 2022

 محمد صادق الحسينيّ

يكثر الحديث في الصالونات السياسية والأروقة العلنية والمغلقة عن احتمالات اندلاع حرب إقليمية كبرى قد يفجّرها الكيان للهروب من عجزه الاستراتيجي وانهياراته وتضعضع جبهته الداخلية…

والأدلة التي تساق لاستخلاص هذه النتيجة تستند الى تزايد الاعتداءات «الإسرائيلية» على سورية وآخرها مطار دمشق وعمليّات الإيذاء والاغتيالات المتعددة التي قام بها العدو مؤخراً لعسكريين وأمنيين إيرانيين، والحرب السيبرانية المفتوحة بين تل ابيب وطهران على كلّ المستويات…

اسمحوا لنا أن نختلف مع كلّ هذه التحليلات وتقديرات الموقف التي أخذت ترفع الصوت عالياً بالقول إنّ المنطقة باتت على صفيح ساخن أو أنّ طبول الحرب تسمع في كلّ مكان، لنقول إنّ الحرب لم يحِن وقتها وانّ الإشارة بإشعالها لم تأتِ بعد من واشنطن صانعة الحروب في العالم والتي لا حرب ممكنة الوقوع عندنا إلا بطبخها في البنتاغون أولاً واليكم الأدلة والقرائن والبراهين:

أ ـ إنّ التحدي الأكبر والأول الذي تعيشه أميركا الآن هو تحدّ داخلي يتألّف من شقين

أولاً: تزايد الخطر الأمني الذي يمثله ترامب وجناحه العنفي الذي يُحضّر لغزوة «كاپيتول ٢» والتي تقول التقارير إنها ستكون أعنف هذه المرة من الأولى.

ثانياً: معركة الأمن الجماعيّ السكانيّ الذي تعيشه أميركا والتي كلفت مواطنيها حتى الآن أكثر من ١٩ ألف قتيل خلال الأشهر الخمسة الماضية فقط والتي يقدّر الخبراء أنها ستصل الى نحو ٥٠ ألفاً حتى نهاية العام…وهو رقم يزيد على خسائرها في الحرب العالمية الأولى!

وهذه حرب أهلية بكلّ معنى الكلمة.

ثالثا ـ التحدي الثاني الذي تعيشه أميركا هو سعيها المحموم لإعادة الهيمنة الكلية المتآكلة لها على العالم والتي مثل صعود الصين الصاروخيّ دولياً التهديد الأكبر وجاءت روسيا من خلال عملية أوكرانيا لتشكل القشة التي قصمت ظهر البعير الأميركيّ فجعلته ليس فقط لا يستطيع ان يحرك ساكناً حتى في حدود دعم انفصال تايوان خوفاً من السحق الصيني الذي سمع به من وزير دفاع بكين، فما بالك عالمياً حتى بات عاجزاً عن الاحتفاظ بحليفه الأوروبيّ التاريخيّ الذي يتهدّده التشتت والضياع واحتياجه لتحشيد ٣٠ ألف جندي ورجل أمن إسباني ووصول كبار جنرالات البنتاغون منذ الآن بهدف منع فشل قمة الأطلسي في ٢١ الشهر الحالي في مدريد، والتي تهدف الى فرض أجواء العسكرة الكاملة على أوروبا المترنحة خوفاً من تداعيات حرب الطاقة مع روسيا التي لا تزال في أولها!

ولما كان من البديهي بأنّ ما من حرب تشنّها تل أبيب على العرب إلا ويكون قد تمّ التخطيط لها في البنتاغون.

فحرب ٨٢ خطط لها الجنرال هيغ في حكومة ريغان

وحرب الـ ٢٠٠٦ خطّط لها البنتاغون في حكومة جورج بوش الابن.

فهل جاءت الإشارة من الجنرال اوستين في حكومة بايدن لشنّ الحرب على لبنان او إيران!؟

لا إشارات تشي بذلك حتى الآن، بل ثمة إشارات معاكسة!

بايدن الغارق من قمة رأسه الى أخمص قدميه بالحرب الأهلية الأميركية وبالصين وروسيا والذي يعرف تماماً عجز بينيت (الآيلة حكومته الى السقوط) ومثله نتن ياهو (الذي يحلم باستعادة السلطة منه) عن مجرد خوض حرب على مستوى غزة، فما بالك بحرب إقليمية، مرجّحة جداً لو اشتعلت ان تصبح عالمية تطيح بما تبقى من هيمنة أو هيبة عالمية أميركية!

لهذه الأسباب مجتمعة جاء مشروع إدارة بايدن الذي يُحضر له منذ مدة وهو تشكيل قوة دفاع جوي أميركية ـ إسرائيلية ـ خليجية مشتركة يُراد لها ان تشرك كلاً من مصر والأردن والعراق لتكون هي مَن يتصدّى لما يسمّونه بالنفوذ الإيراني الجامح!

ايّ «يا كيانات الخدم الأميركية بمن فيكم قاعدتنا الصهيونية المتقدّمة دبّروا حالكم بحالكم»!

نحن لسنا في وضع يسمح لنا بشن حروب من أجلكم.

ولكن لماذا يصرّ «الإسرائيلي» على التصعيد اذن، وعلى ماذا يراهن؟

الأبله بينيت وأيضاً مثله نتن ياهو ولأنهما يعيشان أزمة وجودية الكيان وانعدام ثقة سكان الجبهة الداخلية بالدويلة لم يبقَ أمامهم إلا الهروب الى الأمام على «طريقة عليّ وعلى أعدائي»، خاصة أنهما مقبلان على سقوط حكومي والعودة الى الانتخابات الخامسة في أقلّ من سنتين، وبالتالي فهما يخوضان حروبهما الانتخابية مرة بالاعتداءات على محور المقاومة ويومياً بالدم الفلسطيني، لعلهم بذلك يخرجون من مأزقهم، ولكن هيهات لهم ذلك…

الأميركي لن يغامر في هذه اللحظة لا لأجلهم ولا لأجل خدمه الآخرين. ومَن سيخرجهم من أزمتهم بل من الوجود كله هو نحن…

نعم نحن وفي اللحظة المناسبة ساعة نحن نشاء وساعة نراها ناضجة…

هل يعني هذا انّ قوى المحور ستظلّ من الآن الى حين نضوجها متفرّجة ولن تعمل شيئاً؟

أبداً ليس كذلك… ستكون هناك ردود من حيث لا يحتسبون وفي أماكن حساسة لا يتوقعون، وبضربات إيذائية تجعلهم يندمون…

ولكن كلّ ذلك في إطار المعارك بين الحروب الى حين تحين ساعة المنازلة الكبرى، التي لم تظهر حالياً إشاراتها على شاشات المحور بعد…

هذا الأمر قد يتغيّر، ولكن من واشنطن، وليس من تل أبيب، لأنّ تل أبيب دكانة أميركيّة لا أكثر وكلب أميركي مسعور يحرّكه سيده ساعة يشاء…!

لكلّ نبأ مستقرّ.

بعدنا طيّبين قولوا الله…

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Has “Israel” Crossed A Red Line With Iran?

 June 2, 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen English

Robert Inlakesh 

What Iran’s retaliation in March showed was that the Islamic Republic is willing to turn up the heat on “Israel” when the time is right to do so.

Has “Israel” Crossed A Red Line With Iran?

The Zionist regimes’ provocations against Iran have been constant for years, but has its latest actions crossed a red line for which “Tel Aviv” may pay dearly?

It is no secret that “Israel” played a large role in the propaganda campaign against the Islamic Republic of Iran, which provided the excuse for the US government to violate the Obama-era Nuclear Deal, paving the way for a sanctions war on Tehran. Israeli allegations of a coming Iranian Nuclear Weapon can be traced back to October 1992, when former Israeli President Shimon Peres claimed that Tehran would have the bomb by 1999. Therefore, such claims are rarely taken seriously by any reputable international organization.

The latest attempt to scaremonger, over an alleged Iranian pursuit of nukes, by “Israel”, came this Tuesday from Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. Bennett claimed, in a similar style to former Israeli PM, Benjamin Netanyahu, through preschooler geared presentations, that “Israel” had obtained secret files which prove Iran’s lies about its nuclear weapons program. Evidently, there is no evidence that such a nuclear weapons program exists, let alone that “Israel’s” newly released documents prove that Tehran tricked the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Whilst this type of propaganda from “Tel Aviv” is certainly a nuisance to Iran, it does not exactly warrant any sort of crushing response, but when it is combined with the Zionist regime’s recent actions, it may be doing the opposite of helping the Zionist cause. 

It is well known now that an Israeli role has been alleged in the assassination of Quds Force General, Qassem Soleimani, back in January of 2020. Then, on November 27, 2020, agents, said to have been working on behalf of the Israeli Mossad, assassinated Iran’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh on Iranian soil. There was also the attack on the Natanz nuclear facility in 2021, which Iranian officials blamed on “Israel”. These are but a few of the most recent provocations by “Israel” against Iran.

The latest assassination carried out by Israeli Mossad took place in Tehran, claiming the life of Hassan Sayyad Khodaei, a member of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC). The following day, “Israel’s” minister of war, Benny Gantz applauded a recent US government position to not budge on the issue of taking the IRGC off of Washington’s designated “terrorist organizations” list. It has become clear that not only will “Israel” carry out such assassinations, but it insists on attempting to rub such actions in the faces of the Iranians. 

If anything can be learned from Tehran’s newly set rules of engagement, it is that engagement in a tit-for-tat battle with “Israel” is no problem at all for the IRGC. Following the killing of 2 Iranian nationals in an Israeli airstrike, in the vicinity of Syria’s capital city, Damascus, Iran announced it would take revenge. On March 13, Iran’s IRGC launched around a dozen ballistic missiles into Erbil, Iraq, targeting Israeli Mossad bases. According to reports, three Mossad agents were killed and 7 were wounded.

What Iran’s retaliation in March showed was that the Islamic Republic is willing to turn up the heat on “Israel” when the time is right to do so. Despite clear indications that Tehran will respond to the latest assassination of its IRGC member, “Tel Aviv” can’t seem to help itself when it comes to rubbing salt into the wound. This has been done through its anti-Iranian rhetoric, and also by provoking the Palestinian Resistance and all the regional forces, by crossing all red lines in occupied Al-Quds, desecrating the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound last Sunday during the Israeli settlers’ “Flag march”.

If the Zionist regime was a boxer, it would be running around taunting its opponent blindfolded, with its chin out, confident that it won’t get hit. It’s easy to see how, with a little patience, the resistance forces in the region will dish out a serious blow. “Israel” has been repeatedly warned to not cross certain red lines and continually crosses those red lines, dancing on the graves of those it kills when it gets there.

It is just a matter of time before Iran takes its revenge, along with the other resistance forces in the region, and the immature settler leaders will surely pay dearly for their words and deeds.

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

حكومة بينيت تربح على نتنياهو والمقاومة تثبت خطوطها الحمراء

الإثنين 30 أيار 2022

ناصر قنديل

اليوم المقدسيّ والفلسطينيّ الفاصل كان نقطة تحول هامة في تاريخ الصراع المصيري والوجودي مع كيان الاحتلال، فهذا اليوم كان لتسجيل النقاط وتفادي الاحتكام للضربة القاضية، فمن جهة شهدنا حشداً للمستوطنين نحو باحات المسجد الأقصى بالأعلام والطقوس التلمودية خلال فترات الصباح، خارج توقيت مسيرة الأعلام، وشهدنا في مسيرة الأعلام حشداً مضاعفاً لما كانت عليه المسيرة تقليدياً كل عام، وترافق ذلك مع اعتداءات على الشبان الفلسطينيين من عناصر الشرطة والمستوطنين، ومواكبة من آلاف عناصر الشرطة للحدث بكل وحشية الأداء وعنصريته، لكننا بالمقابل شهدنا حضوراً فلسطينياً غير مسبوق في أحياء القدس وشوارعها يرفع الأعلام الفلسطينية ويشتبك ببسالة مع المستوطنين والشرطة، ويدفعهم مراراً إلى خارج المدينة المقدسة، وشهدنا خروجا لمئات الشبان في مدن الضفة يشعلون الحرائق قرب حواجز جيش الاحتلال، وفي باحات الأقصى كان المرابطون يصرخون بملء الصوت بوجه المستوطنين والشرطة.

على الخط الدولي الإقليمي ثبت أن واشنطن والعواصم الإقليمية المنتدبة للوساطة مع قوى المقاومة، خصوصاً القاهرة والدوحة، حاضرة على خط المتابعة رغم انشغالاتها الكبرى على جبهة التصعيد مع موسكو وبكين، انطلاقاً من إدراكها مدى خطورة خروج الأمور عن السيطرة في منطقة شديدة الحساسية في سوق الطاقة والممرات التجارية، في عالم يشهد أزمات متصاعدة في المجالين الحيويين، ومعرفتها بأن حجم التوتر على محاور عديدة بين دول وقوى محور المقاومة وكيان الاحتلال، سيفرض تحول أي شرارة مواجهة بين جيش الاحتلال وقوى المقاومة في غزة، الى مشروع حرب إقليمية، خصوصاً عندما يكون عنوان الشرارة المسجد الأقصى والمقدسات.

في الشأن الصهيوني الداخلي، نجح رئيس حكومة الاحتلال نفتالي بينيت في الربح بالنقاط على منافسه اليميني بنيامين نتنياهو، الذي رعى مسيرة الأعلام الصهيونية العام الماضي، وصولاً لاندلاع معركة سيف القدس ونهايتها لغير صالحه، ومحاولة نتنياهو ابتزاز حكومة بينيت لدفعها للتراجع عن المسيرة لتفادي المواجهة مع المقاومة، ما يسهل إسقاطها وجعلها تدفع ثمن الضعف أمام المقاومة، في ظل تحكم المستوطنين واليمين المتطرف في الشارع الصهيوني الناخب، وتحدر بينيت من رحم هذا الشارع، فنجح بينيت بمقايضة التزامه بضوابط الخطوط الحمراء للمقاومة، التي رسمتها الوساطة المصرية القطرية عشية انطلاق المسيرة، وعنوانها عدم دخول المشاركين في المسيرة المسائية الى باحات المسجد الأقصى أو اقترابهم منها، والسيطرة على تحركاتهم داخل الأحياء العربية في القدس، وبالمقابل رفع بينيت سقف المشاركين في المسيرة عدداً، وسمح لهم بالمرور من باب العامود، الذي تهرب نتنياهو من إتاحة عبوره أمام مسيرة العام الماضي، وترك بعضهم يدخل الباحات صباحاً مقابل التشدد الكامل بإبعاد مسيرة المساء عن المسجد وباحاته.

قوى المقاومة رسمت خطوطها الحمراء تحت عنوانين، الأول حرمة المسجد الأقصى على مسيرة الأعلام، والثاني حدود انضباط المسيرة في أحياء القدس لجهة عدم الإقدام على اقتحام البيوت والمتاجر والاعتداء على السكان. وفي تقييم اليوم المفصلي، كان المردوع هم المستوطنين وليس المقدسيين، فقد نقلت الكاميرات صورهم وهم يهربون مذعورين أمام المقدسيين داخل أحياء القدس ويغادرونها الى باب العامود، وكان المردوع هو حكومة بينيت وجيش الاحتلال بإنهاء المسيرة عند حائط البراق، دون أي تورط بالاقتراب من باحات المسجد الأقصى أو محاولة دخولها، وكانت الأعلام الفلسطينية ترفرف في سماء القدس ومسيرة أعلام فلسطينية تجوب شوارعها، في توازن يعكس حقيقة توازن الردع.

يمكن القول إن بينيت ربح على نتنياهو، وإن المقاومة أثبتت خطوطها الحمراء، لكن بينيت سيستطيع تمويه تراجعه أمام المقاومة بتقدمه على نتنياهو، لكن مقولة القدس عاصمة موحدة للكيان سقطت بقوة الحضور الفلسطيني فيها، الذي قال إن أية عاصمة يحتاج حملة الأعلام فيها الى حشد آلاف الجنود للعبور في شوارعها؟

الجولة لم تنته بعد، فالمفاجآت تبقى واردة!

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Israel’s flag march: Will it trigger the inevitable war in Palestine?

Israel is desperate to re-establish the ‘deterrence equation’ it lost last May, while the Palestinian resistance intends to do everything necessary to maintain and advance it.

May 28 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Abdelrahman Nassar

After enduring heavy Israeli provocations during the holy month of Ramadan, Palestinians will be tested again this Sunday with the Flag March – an annual Jewish celebration of the 1967 capture of Palestine’s Old City in East Jerusalem.

Tensions are rife in Jerusalem. This year and next, Ramadan falls on the same month as Jewish religious holidays, each offering a pretext for Israeli extremists to taunt, injure, and kill Palestinians in occupied lands.

So if Sunday’s march doesn’t provoke a conflagration, there is still 2023 to contend with.

Israel can no longer control outcomes

For years, Israel has been surveilling Palestinian movements in an effort to predict the eruption of a new uprising (Intifada), but has been unable to determine when it will take place.

Last March, for example, a report by the Israeli Internal Security Agency (Shin Bet) identified several incidents that could lead to a large-scale confrontation in Palestine – and the likely locations for it. And, indeed, the expected happened.

But what the Shin Bet report did not say was that Israel itself is pushing for this confrontation so that it can choose the time and place in order to try to control the outcome.

The evidence abounds: Israel allows hundreds, even thousands, of extremist settlers a free hand to storm Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem to perform Jewish Passover rites at the Muslim site. This year, they were not allowed to conduct animal sacrifices inside courtyard of the Mosque, but that may happen next year.

The Israeli army accompanies and protects Jewish settlers during their attacks on Palestinian cities, towns, and villages of the occupied West Bank. The examples are countless; the difficulty is in predicting the results of the ensuing clashes.

Tel Aviv seeks an escalation of tensions, but without a Palestinian reaction. While Israel presents itself as a secular state, its barely veiled ambition is to Judaize Al-Aqsa Mosque and build the Temple of David over its ruins.

Israel’s strategy is to emulate the Ibrahimi Mosque model in Hebron: to incrementally divide Al-Aqsa by allocating times for Jews to perform religious rites within the courtyards of the mosque – then expand those rights. This is significantly equal to the construction of a Temple.

Palestinians thwarted Israel’s efforts during both this and last year’s Ramadan. Last month, their resistance factions were careful – particularly in the Gaza Strip – not to engage in a bloody confrontation, but allowed Palestinians in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and the 1948 areas to rise up instead.

The Flag March provocation

Israel’s right-wing government and parties know full well that canceling the Flag March – or even diverting its path away from Al-Aqsa – constitutes a submission to the Palestinian resistance factions.

Palestinians are now demanding the marchers be prevented from entering the Muslim Quarter of the Old City and Bab al-Amud. This is a dangerous request for a state like Israel that relies mainly on the principle of deterrence and the excessive use of force to subjugate its opponents.

The two reported routes that Israeli extremists will take through Jerusalem’s Old City before converging at the Al-Aqsa Mosque

About a week ago, Yedioth Ahronoth reported that the Israeli security establishment was preparing for the Flag March with “high alertness for the possibility of escalation,” pointing out that “all the bodies, the Shin Bet, the army and the police, recommended that the march take place as planned.”

In short, the very security establishment that ostensibly seeks to quash opportunities for a Palestinian intifada, are recommending that Jewish marchers traipse through the historically sensitive Bab al-Amud.

The Israeli security establishment has warned that any change in the route “will be interpreted as Israeli weakness,” and has recommended a “fierce response” to any Palestinian action.

Although Israel claims it is ready for further clashes with Gaza, it tried to avoid this outcome during Ramadan. It seems, however, that Tel Aviv’s calculations have changed after a series of developments, which include Hamas Gaza Leader Yahya Sinwar’s threat – in a speech at the end of Ramadan – that the resistance will wage a war to defend its victories in the May 2021 Sayf Al Quds battle over the sanctity of Jerusalem.

The perceived higher threat level has made Israeli police, in several subsequent provocative activities organized by Jewish settlers, reduce their numbers in Al-Aqsa and ban them from raising Israeli flags.

Internal political collapse

Domestically, Israel is in trouble. The government of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is in imminent danger of collapse. That possibility appears to increase if he shows inaction or failure in dealing with security issues, whether in the occupied West Bank or in the Gaza Strip.

Bennett’s government is under pressure from parties even further to his right, who represent a large number of Israeli votes that he does not want to lose. And hawkish former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, eager to return to the post he occupied for 15 years, is nipping at Bennett’s heels.

Amid the internal political crisis, Israel’s security establishment fears losing much of its deterrent power against Palestinian resistance factions, newly armed with enhanced missile technology, drone capabilities, and unprecedented field coordination. Indeed, the Israelis have come to feel that the factions are controlling the internal scene.

Is war imminent?

There are a number of indicators that a confrontation is more likely to unfold in the next few days than at any time this year.

First, on 9 May, the Israeli army launched its largest ever military exercise, Chariots of Fire, which involves nearly all units of the Israeli army, and simulates the outbreak of war on several fronts with Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, and Iran.

Second, since the start of the maneuver, increased flights of reconnaissance planes – AWACS and others – have been observed over Gaza. Sources in the resistance factions interpret this as an attempt by the Israeli army to accumulate a new target bank to be used in any upcoming confrontation.

Third, Palestinian factions have raised their alert levels since the start of Israel’s military maneuvers. According to sources in Gaza, there are strict measures on the movements of the senior resistance military leaders and precautionary measures in the movement of monitoring units, as well as the cancellation of training courses.

Fourth, from a wholly Israeli point of view, the army believes it has not taken any action against Gaza since 2008. In its mind, in both 2014 and 2021, it was the resistance that decided to ‘launch a confrontation’ after Israel’s many provocations against Palestinians, including attacks, assassinations, and sieges.

But the Sayf al Quds (Sword of Jerusalem) war in May 2021, was the most dangerous Israel has encountered in recent decades. Small-scale Israeli aggressions in Jerusalem provoked all the occupied territories and unified Gaza, the West Bank, Jerusalem and 1948 Palestinians – depriving the Israeli security establishment of their ability to compartmentalize and control each of these four ‘units.’

For this fifth reason, there is an urgent Israeli need to re-establish the psychology of deterrence and to rearrange the Palestinian scene into a manageable and predictable state.

Sixth, the resistance estimates that Israel may take advantage of current tensions to carry out assassinations of their most influential leaders, especially Yahya Sinwar, Ziad al-Nakhaleh, Muhammad al-Deif and Marwan Issa. These leaders have contributed heavily to the increase in Israel’s threat perception by keeping their ranks battle-ready and by unifying the Gaza, Jerusalem and West Bank arenas of confrontation.

In anticipation of renewed targeted killings, Hamas Political Bureau Leader Ismail Haniyeh issued a warning in an 18 May letter to regional mediating states that any assassination policy adopted by Tel Aviv would lead to a major war. The resistance believes that Israel will use the cover of ongoing military maneuvers to direct a severe blow to their command and control centers in order to contain a harsh Palestinian reaction.

On the seventh point, noting that the Gaza resistance has not escalated its rhetoric – setting a date for firing rockets, for example – Israel decided to proceed with the Flag March, providing that another security assessment is conducted on the night prior.

As a Palestinian security source told The Cradle: “Something unusual should have happened to change the course of the march, because the threats until this moment are low-level.”

Then, in yet another unfolding development, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, in his 25 May speech commemorating the liberation of southern Lebanon, announced – on behalf of the entire Axis of Resistance – that the attack on Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock “will lead to the detonation of the region.”

In the following hours, the plan for the Israeli Flag March was temporarily halted and attempts were made to reduce the heat. According to Israel Hayom newspaper, directly after Nasrallah’s speech, Israel made contact with Egypt, the United Nations, and Qatar to prevent further escalation.

Palestinian resistance factions, however, are in a state of absolute preparedness. They know not to be placated by deceptive Israeli statements, because they continue to observe active Israeli preparations on the ground. A resistance security source says Tel Aviv is frantic, and that there is an “urgent Israeli strategic interest to undermine the state of mutual deterrence between the resistance and the occupation.” Nothing will move Israel from this obsession to establish perceived strength.

The most clear expression of this was voiced by Yossi Yehoshua in Yedioth Ahronoth when he wrote that “all [Israeli] security chiefs warn that changing the course of the Flag March at the last minute will be interpreted as weakness.”

It’s getting hot in here

It is important to understand that the Israeli army pronounced Gaza “deterred” in May 2021, just before battles broke out across occupied Palestine. The Israeli army believed that Gaza would not react because it feared another Israeli military operation. Israel’s military establishment has, once again, made that same assessment this year.

But this is not necessarily true. The last hours leading up to Sunday’s Flag March may carry a new statement by the Chief of Staff of Al-Qassam Brigades Muhammad al-Deif, in which he renews intent to establish red lines around Al-Aqsa Mosque and Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem.

Gaza resistance sources confirmed to The Cradle that although they tried to preserve the ‘deterrence equation’ without entering into a new confrontation during Ramadan, there is a strict decision to prevent Israel from reversing the advantages gained from last May’s Sayf al Quds war. Such a reversal, one source adds, “will mean an acceleration in the Judaization of the Holy City.”

Hours from now, 16,000 Jewish settlers will rally for the Flag March, waving Israel flags in besieged Palestinian areas, to signal their absolute sovereignty over the city, its neighborhoods, and its holy sites.

Until Sunday, many international and regional mediations will take place behind the scenes in an attempt to reach a solution. However, even if the event in Jerusalem passes without escalation, there are no indications that the operations in the Palestinian cities or the clashes in the West Bank will stop.

In the West Bank, the scene is developing quickly. The Jenin Brigade model has been replicated in other cities, such as Nablus and Tulkarm. Entering these cities, with their vast areas and overcrowded, heavily armed camps, will make staying on the brink of confrontation a permanent situation.

This scene, with all its details, suggests that periods of calm have become a thing of the past. Israel is well aware of this. The resistance factions believe that a battle is inevitable – if not now, then very soon, but they will not allow it to be on “the date set by the Israelis.”

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

al-Aqsa Mosqueflag marchGazaHamasIsmail Haniyeh

ماذا سوف نعرف الأحد؟

 السبت 28 أيار 2022

 ناصر قنديل

بعدما تمّ سحب احتمال إلغاء مسيرة الأعلام من بين الاحتمالات المطروحة في التداول لما سيجري يوم الأحد المقبل، صار الأمر بين مسيرة محدودة العدد منضبطة السلوك، أو مسيرة تصعيدية استفزازية بعدد وسلوك المشاركين فيها. وفي حالة المسيرة الرمزية التي تحفظ مبدأ الإحياء للمناسبة وطقوسها المحدودة دون الذهاب الى المسار التصعيدي، سيكون ممكناً تفادي الانزلاق إلى مواجهة أولى في القدس مع أبناء الأحياء العربية، وثانية مع المرابطين في المسجد الأقصى، وتالياً تفادي موجة تصعيد تنطلق من قوى المقاومة في غزة رداً على الاستفزازات، وهذا سوف يعني ثلاثة أشياء، الأول أن واشنطن وتل أبيب تستوعبان معنى تهديدات المقاومة في غزة، والتزام محور المقاومة معها، وتدركان مفاعيل موازين القوى وتبعات تسييلها في مواجهة مقبلة، ومخاطر خروجها عن السيطرة، وفتح الباب لجولة حرب إقليمية لن تكون في صالح كيان الاحتلال. والثاني أن لواشنطن القدرة على ممارسة الضغط وتحقيق الضبط على أداء وسلوك كيان الاحتلال وحكومته وجيشه، وبالتوازي قدرة حكومة وجيش الاحتلال على ضبط جموع المستوطنين والكيانات المتطرفة، رغم كل ما يقال عن تضعضع سلسلة الضبط من واشنطن الى تل أبيب الى حراك المستوطنين. أما الشيء الثالث الذي سيعنيه ذلك فهو أن جموع المستوطنين والمتطرفين رغم السقف العالي لخطابها، ومحاولتها دفع الحكومة والجيش الى مواقف تصعيدية، قد فقدت الكثير من زخمها، وحيويتها، بعدما تسلل ميزان الردع الى صفوفها، في ظل مشاهد التزاحم نحو الهجرة من الكيان، وستكون الحصيلة الإجمالية لهذه العناصر دخول المنطقة مرحلة جديدة، سيكون فيها فرصة لفرض موازين الردع وفقاً للروزنامة التي أعلنتها المقاومة في غزة، سواء في ملف فك الحصار أو في ملف الأسرى وتبييض السجون.

الاحتمال الثاني أن تخرج مسيرة الأعلام بصورة استفزازية عدداً وسلوكاً، وأن يؤدي هذا الطابع إلى وقوع الصدام بين المشاركين والشرطة، وصولا لتفريق المسيرة عند بلوغها منطقة خطر التصادم مع المقدسيين والمرابطين. وهذا يعني أن واشنطن وتل أبيب تعملان وفق سلسلة السيطرة والضبط، وانهما تدركان موازين الردع ومخاطر العبث معها، وتخشيان التدحرج نحو تصعيد يفتح الباب لحرب إقليمية، لكن جموع المستوطنين والمتطرفين لم تبلغهما بعد رياح الردع، لكن هذه الرياح لفحت الشرائح الأوسع في الكيان وخلقت توازن قوى سياسي داخلي جديد في التجمع الصهيوني لصالح خيار تفادي المواجهة، لكن هذا يعني أن حكومة وجيش الاحتلال يملكان مصدر قوة جديداً، يتمثل بهذا التحول في التجمع الصهيوني لغير صالح خيار التصعيد، وفي هذه الحالة سنكون أمام مسار متعرج في العلاقة بين الاحتلال وقوى المقاومة، ستحتاج فيه كل حلقة من حلقات المواجهة المقبلة إلى جولة كبيرة أو صغيرة، كما سيعني مزيداً من المواجهات في الضفة ومحاولات جيش الاحتلال لتظهير القدرة.

الاحتمال الثالث هو أن تقع المواجهة بين المسيرة الاستفزازية والناشطين الفلسطينيين في القدس من مقدسيين ومرابطين، وتنضم شرطة الاحتلال الى المستوطنين في مواجهة الفلسطينيين، وتتصاعد المواجهة، وتنتقل إلى مواجهات شعبية في الضفة الغربية والأراضي المحتلة عام 1948، بين الشباب الفلسطيني وشرطة الاحتلال. وفي هذه الحالة سنكون على موعد مع موقف عالي النبرة لفصائل المقاومة بمثابة إنذار بموعد إطلاق الصواريخ ما لم تتوقف الاستفزازات والاعتداءات، ويكون الباب قد فتح أمام جولة مواجهة قال الأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصرالله، إنه باب نحو احتمال تفجير المنطقة. وهذا يعني أن قيادة الكيان السياسية والعسكرية التي تدرك الموازين الجديدة، تدرك أن الانكفاء الأميركي عامل ثابت، وان مواجهة تجري الآن تسهم بتهيئة التجمع الصهيوني لترسيم حدود القوة، عبر جولة تصب الماء البارد على الرؤوس الحامية سواء للمستوطنين او للتجمع الأوسع للكيان، وتستدرج تدخلاً دولياً لوقف المواجهة بفتح باب للتفاوض حول ملفات صناعة الاستقرار المتوسط المدى، وخصوصاً ملفات الأسرى وفك الحصار والقدس.

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Israel Insists on Maintaining Route for Controversial Jerusalem ‘Flag March’

May 27, 2022

Young Zionists gathering with Israeli flags in Jerusalem. (Photo: via Social Media)

Despite warnings of serious repercussions and violence, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett decided on Friday not to change the route of the controversial Israeli ‘flag march’, which will pass through occupied East Jerusalem, Anadolu News Agency reported.

A statement from Bennett’s office said the Israeli Prime Minister spoke over the phone with Public Security Minister Omer Barlev, Israeli police chief Kobi Shabtai, and other security officials, to finalise preparations for holding the march on Sunday as planned.

Bennett said that the march will end in the courtyard of Al-Buraq Wall, or Western Wall, adjacent to Al-Aqsa Mosque, and will not pass through Al-Aqsa Mosque complex.

The annual ‘flag march’ is expected to pass through Bab Al-Amud area (Damascus Gate area) and East Jerusalem’s Old City.

Palestinian resistance group Hamas warned Israel that it risks another war if it allows the march through Jerusalem’s Old City.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque complex is located in 1967. It annexed the entire city in 1980, a move never recognized by the international community.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

‘Israel’ Claims Responsibility for Assassination of IRG Officer – NYT

 May 26, 202

By Staff, Agencies

The Tel Aviv regime informed Washington that it was responsible for assassinating an Islamic Revolutionary Guard [IRG] Quds Force officer in Tehran on Sunday, The New York Times reported.

In a briefing with American officials, the ‘Israeli’ occupation entity confirmed reports that Colonel Hassan Sayyad Khodaei, who was shot dead in a vehicle, was deputy commander of the Quds Force’s Unit 840.

As per NYT, ‘Israeli’ officials claimed the officer was head of Unit 840’s Middle East operations, as well as in nations bordering Iran.

Assassins on a motorcycle shot and killed Khodaei in front of his home on Mojahedin Eslam Street in the capital city of Tehran, according to Iranian reports.

The IRG called the assassination a “criminal terrorist act of the counter-revolution and elements related to global arrogance,” a term often used to refer to the US and ‘Israel.’

Zionist Prime Minister Naftali Bennett confirmed on Wednesday reports that US President Joe Biden has informed him he will definitively not remove the IRG from the US’ list of foreign terrorist organizations [FTOs].

Biden reportedly told Bennett of his decision during a phone conversation between the two in April.

According to the report, Biden decided to pull the plug on the idea to remove the IRG’s Quds Force from the US’ terrorist blacklist after it was clear it would not be enough to force Iran to compromise in talks to revive the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA].

The Zionist military establishment was surprised by the leak. ‘Israel’ and the US have a close intelligence relationship; something like this should never have been publicized, ‘Israeli’ media noted.

As per the report, Zionist officials are awaiting an explanation from their American counterparts, as the leak caught the occupation entity by surprise and was expected to have come from a source in the US.

Security officials in the occupied territories reportedly fear the leak might lead to a more “substantial” targeting of ‘Israelis’ abroad as revenge for the killing.

Constantly on the Verge of Collapse: How Palestinians Became a Factor in Israeli Politics

May 18, 2022

Israeli politicians Naftali Bennett (L) and Ayelet Shaked. (Photo: via Wikimedia commons)

By Ramzy Baroud

Israel’s coalition government of right-wing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is on the verge of collapse, which is unsurprising. Israeli politics, after all, is among the most fractious in the world, and this particular coalition was born out of the obsessive desire to dethrone Israel’s former leader, Benjamin Netanyahu.

While Netanyahu was successfully ousted in June 2021, Bennett’s coalition has been left to contend with the painful reality that its odd political components have very little in common.

On April 6, Israeli lawmaker Ildit Salman defected from the coalition, leaving Bennett and his temporary allies wrangling with the fact that their Knesset (Israel’s Parliament) coalition no longer has a majority. Now that the Knesset count stands at 60-60, a single defection could potentially send Israelis back to the voting booth, which has been quite habitual recently.

Two current Bennett allies, Abir Kara and Bir Orbach, are possible defectors. Even Bennett’s old Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) partner, Ayelet Shaked, could ultimately betray him, once his coalition ship begins sinking. And it is.

Both Bennett and Shaked left the Jewish Home in 2018 to form Yamina. Although the latter won only seven seats in the March 2021 elections, the far-right party proved to be the kingmaker, which allowed the anti-Netanyahu coalition to be formed. The only alternative to this current coalition would have been a government in which Netanyahu and Bennett would alternate the prime minister post. Though Bennett is a protegé of Netanyahu, the current prime minister knew too well that his former boss cannot be trusted.

So, instead, Bennett opted to join a hotchpotch coalition of political desperados, each joining an unlikely government for simply having no other option. For example, Yesh Atid (17 seats), and Kahol Lavan (8 seats), once part of the Blue and White center-right coalition, betrayed their political base by joining far-right Yamina and, consequently, leaving behind Telem of Moshe Yalon, which now has no Knesset representation.

The same can be said of Labor (7 seats) and Meretz (6 seats) who, earlier, were the backbone of the Israeli political establishment – in 1992 they had 56 seats combined. Losing faith in their own political base, they opted to join their supposed ideological nemesis, instead of enduring the painstaking process of breathing life into a dying camp.

The captivating part of the story is the United Arab List of Mansour Abbas, which is rightly perceived to have betrayed its Arab base in Israel and its own Palestinian people everywhere else. As the Israeli army is cracking down on Palestinian communities throughout historic Palestine, including Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Naqab – Mansour Abbas’ own base – this strange political creature remains committed to Bennett, though nervous about future possibilities, especially that the nature of the Israeli attacks on Palestinians are increasingly shifting towards a religious war.

Consequently, it is hard to imagine that Bennett’s government could realistically survive till 2025. In fact, it is quite rare in Israeli politics that any government coalition has served its full four-year term. Still, Israel’s historic political instability is worsening. In fact, Bennett’s government is the outcome of an agonizing political process that saw Israeli voters cast their votes in four different general elections in only two years.

Perhaps, what is keeping Bennett’s coalition together, though precariously, is the menacing image of Netanyahu, the current opposition leader, sinisterly watching from across the Knesset aisles while waiting for the right opportunity to pounce. Some Israeli analysts even argue that the defection of MK Salman was largely instigated by the abuse and intimidation she received from Netanyahu’s Likud party, which saw her as a traitor to their right-wing agenda.

Regardless of the fate of Bennett’s government, Israel’s political crisis will continue indefinitely, and there are reasons for this.

Though the Israeli right has dominated the country’s politics for many years, especially since 1996, it remains fractious and opportunistic. The constant need to feed the insatiable appetite of the country’s powerful right-wing constituency keeps pushing Israel’s right-wing parties further to the right. They are merely united around such values as the racial and religious supremacy of Israeli Jews, their hate for Palestinians and Arabs, the desire to expand the illegal Jewish settlements and the rejection of any mediated solution that would provide Palestinians with their basic human rights.

The left in Israel is, frankly, not a left at all. It is recognized as such, largely because of its ‘peace-process’ legacy, which died with the assassination of Labor Minister Yitzhak Rabi, in 1995. Tellingly, Rabin was not a peacenik but one of Israel’s most militant and violent leaders. However, the erroneous association, linking any Israeli leader with the ‘peace process’, automatically classified that individual as a ‘leftist’. According to Israeli analyst Oz Aruch, this also applied to Ariel Sharon. The name of the late notorious Israeli prime minister and Army General is associated with the Sabra and Shatila massacre, along with other horrific episodes.

Without a real ideology and without a ‘peace process’, or even the desire to engage in one, the Israeli left has become irrelevant.

The same applies to the center which, by definition, is the political camp that occupies the space between the right and the left. With the right being in constant redefinition and the left having no strong ideological base, the Israeli center has proven equally hopeless. The outcome of the April 2019 elections, when the center coalition Blue and White obtained 35 seats, should have been a watershed moment for Israel’s political center. This ultimately culminated to nil, and eventually led to the collapse of Blue and White itself.

While this is taking place in Israel, the Palestinian body politic has been slowly reanimating. Though Palestinian Arab parties in Israel remain divided, and Palestinian groups in the occupied territories are yet to find their common ground, Palestinian communities, especially the younger generations, have been articulating a new political discourse. With grassroots leaderships, they are coordinating their actions from occupied Jerusalem to Gaza, to the Naqab to the West Bank and to Palestinian communities in Israel itself.

For the first time in many years, Israel finds itself in a position where it is no longer the only party that is shaping events or determining outcomes in the country. Therefore, Israeli political instability will worsen. Contrastingly, Palestinians are finally becoming a factor in Israeli politics and, through their popular resistance, can mobilize to put pressure on Israel as has been the case in recent years.

Israel is now facing the dilemma of either ignoring this new Palestinian factor, at its own peril, or accepting the inescapable fact that Israel can never enjoy stability while Palestinians remain occupied, confined and oppressed.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

Palestinians mourn slain Al Jazeera journalist as calls grow for independent investigation

May 12 2022

Palestinians refused calls for a joint investigation of Shireen Abu Aqla’s murder, citing Tel Aviv’s track record of inaccurate investigations of their soldiers’ crimes

(Photo credit: The Times UK)

ByNews Desk 

Thousands of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank joined the funeral procession of murdered Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Aqla Nasri on 12 May, one day after she was shot in the head by Israeli soldiers.

Her funeral procession started from the Istishari Hospital in Ramallah, before arriving at the presidential compound of the Palestinian Authority (PA), where President Mahmoud Abbas bid her farewell.

During the ceremony, Abbas said Israel was “fully responsible” for Abu Aqla’s death.

Her body will make its way to Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem, where her family lives, before being laid to rest on 13 May.

The colleagues of Abu Aqla, who also came under fire on 11 May while covering Israeli raids on Jenin, said the occupation troops deliberately targeted the senior Al Jazeera correspondent, despite wearing a bulletproof vest clearly labeled PRESS.

“The [bullet] that killed Shireen was intended to kill her because the sniper fired the bullet at an area of her body that was not protected,” fellow journalist Shatha Hanaysha said.

Hanaysha also highlighted that the Israeli snipers who opened fire could clearly see that they were journalists.

In response to the accusations, Israeli officials initially tried to dodge the blame for the murder, blaming Palestinian factions instead.

“There is a good chance that armed Palestinians, who fired widely, are the ones who led to the unfortunate death of the journalist,” Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told reporters hours after the murder.

However, later in the day, Lieutenant General Aviv Kochavi said it was “unclear” who fired the shot that killed the journalist.

“At this stage, we cannot determine by whose fire she was harmed and we regret her death,” the Israeli officer told Hebrew media.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz also struck a more cautious note, saying: “We are trying to figure out exactly what happened … I don’t have final conclusions.”

For their part, the PA has rejected a US-backed call for a joint investigation into the murder with Tel Aviv.

“Israel has requested a joint investigation and to be handed over the bullet that assassinated the journalist Shireen. We refused that, and we affirmed that our investigation would be completed independently,” Palestinian Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh said on 12 May.

The official also added that all evidence and witness statements confirm that the Palestinian-American journalist was assassinated by Israeli special units.

As international condemnation grows, the EU and UN have joined calls by right groups for an independent investigation into the murder of Abu Aqla.

The office of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres issued a statement saying he was “appalled by the killing of Shireen Abu Aqla, a Palestinian-American reporter for Al Jazeera TV.”

The lead spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the EU, Peter Stano, said that it is vital for a “thorough, independent investigation to clarify all the circumstances of this incident as soon as possible and for those responsible to be brought to justice.”

Rights groups, lawyers and Palestinian authorities, however, say they do not expect a credible investigation into the killing by Israel, which has a track record of not thoroughly investigating crimes committed by the Israeli army.

Last month, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS), and the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) submitted a formal complaint to the International Criminal Court (ICC) accusing Israel of systematically targeting journalists working in Palestine.

The IFJ has repeatedly condemned Israel’s deliberate targeting of journalists and media facilities in occupied Palestine.

According to WAFA, least 55 Palestinian journalists have been killed since 2000, with no one ever being held responsible.

“Israel”: Elad Op Terrifying, We Entered A Circle of Insecurity

May 7, 2022

Translated by Staff

The “Elad” operation led to the killing of “Israeli” security forces, plunging “Israel” into a cycle of insecurity. It intensified fears among the “Israelis” about the prospects of an increase in these operations, in light of the continued Zionist attacks on the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and other religious sanctities in the occupied Palestinian territories.

“Israeli” leaders are unable contain their fears and anxieties, which have become exacerbated, following the heroic operation that mirrored the method and results of previous ones.

On Friday, “Israeli” media quoted many of the Zionist leaders commenting on the new heroic operation.

“Israeli” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett expressed fears regarding the increase in these operations, pointing out that the perpetrators “came out in a campaign to kill us, and their goal is to break our spirit.”

After security consultations between Bennett and senior Zionist officials, he said, “Those who carried out this operation and their supporters will pay the price.”

For his part, “Israeli” War Minister Benny Gantz described the Elad operation as “dangerous and its consequences dire.” 

“The security apparatus will hold accountable those responsible for incitement and these operations, and it will punish them,” Gantz said.

“Israeli” media also quoted Bayit Cham Director Rabbi Arie Munk as saying that “The panic was widespread.” Munk viewed the operation as an effort that “put the Elad area into a circle of great insecurity and fear.”

“Israeli” Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman commented on the operation, saying, “We cannot accept that operations took place on ‘Independence Day’ [the anniversary of the occupation of Palestine in 1948] in the streets of ‘Israel’. We must deal the hardest blows and restore a sense of safety to the ‘Israelis’.”

In turn, “Israeli” Foreign Minister Yair Lapid noted that the joy of what the Zionists call Independence Day disappeared in an instant, describing the attack in Elad as “terrifying and disturbing.”

The head of the Yamina faction, MK Nir Orbach, said, “Our day of pride ends with great pain.” 

“I know that the security forces will not rest until the perpetrators are eliminated.”

In this context, Amir Bohbot, the military correspondent of the Walla website, conveyed the fear of the security and military establishment that the Palestinians would carry out additional operations. He called on the “Israelis” to “increase vigilance and report any suspicious incidents.”

In addition, in a step that highlights the level of fear among “Israeli” leaders, the chief rabbi of the Zionist entity, Yitzhak Yosef, called on the Zionist settlers on Friday to take up arms.

“We call on every person who has a license to carry a weapon and actually has one to come to the synagogue with his weapon to help protect the settlers,” Rabbi Yosef was quoted by “Israel’s” Channel 14.

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No Putin ‘apology’ to Israeli PM found in Kremlin transcript

Tel Aviv earlier claimed that President Putin apologized for the remarks of his foreign minister, in which he suggested Adolf Hitler may have had ‘Jewish blood’

May 06 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett during their meeting, in Sochi, on October 22, 2021. (Photo by Yevgeny BIYATOV / Sputnik / AFP) (Photo by YEVGENY BIYATOV/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)

ByNews Desk

Moscow did not explicitly confirm or deny a claim made by Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on 5 May, in which he said that Russian President Vladimir Putin apologized to him for the controversial comments made by the Kremlin’s top diplomat earlier this week.

Bennett claimed that during a phone conversation with Putin, the Russian leader had offered an apology over a claim by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that Adolf Hitler possibly had “Jewish blood.”

Hours later, the Kremlin issued a statement that included the full content of the conversation, making no mention of an apology.

Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov also commented on this, saying that the conversation that took place between the two leaders was “exactly as disclosed” in the official statement.

Peskov did not directly affirm the absence of an apology in the Kremlin statement he referred to, opting for a more subtle approach.

“The [Israeli] prime minister accepted the apology of President Putin for comments by Lavrov and thanked him for clarifying the president’s view of the Jewish people and the memory of the Holocaust,” Bennett’s office said on 5 May.

Ties between Moscow and Tel Aviv have soured significantly since the start of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine.

On 4 May, the spokeswoman for Russia’s Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, said that Israeli mercenaries have been fighting side by side with the Ukrainian neo-Nazis from the Azov Battalion.

“There are mercenaries from Israel fighting alongside the extremist Azov Brigade … Israel will not be able to ignore this, especially with the presence of videos and materials documenting this,” Zakharova told Sputnik.

She also said that this collaboration could not be happening without Israel’s knowledge, and that Tel Aviv was aware of footage documenting the situation.

On the same day, the Kremlin welcomed an official delegation from Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, led by the deputy head of the organization, Musa Abu Marzouk.

Recent reports indicate that Israel is also considering an increase in its military support to Ukraine, at the request of the US.

Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements and Moscow’s recognition of the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.

At the time, Russian President Vladimir Putin said one of the goals of the special military operation was to “de-Nazify” Ukraine.

Iran makes gains as Israel, Turkey test Moscow’s limits on Ukraine

April 25 2022

Under pressure to side with the west on Ukraine, Israel and Turkey risk falling out with Russia – which will benefit Iran in the long-term.

Winners and losers: West Asian geopolitics are shuffling during the Russia-Ukraine conflict, as states are increasingly forced to take sides.Photo Credit: The Cradle

By MK Bhadrakumar

The closure of Turkey’s air space to all Russian aircraft has not come as a surprise to Moscow, which is aware that Ankara and Washington are involved in a new dalliance and that there is a full spectrum calibration of Turkish regional policies under way.

The best evidence of it is that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan now says that a “reasonable, consistent and balanced relationship” with Israel is the only way to effectively defend the Palestinian cause, while Ankara’s rapprochement with Jerusalem solidifies despite intense tensions over the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

However, the closure of Turkish air space to Russian planes has broader regional implications. Russia has bases in Syria and although the conflict in that country has subsided, it remains “kinetic” with Turkey on the prowl with a large force of Syrian rebels it has trained and equipped over the last few years — at least 20,000 fighters following a unified command structure under what is being called the Syrian National Army.

Syria still matters

Suffice to say that Moscow, which anticipated the non-availability of the Turkish air space sooner or later, would have worked out alternate arrangements. The air route via the Caucasus and Iran is one option. Of course, Moscow and Tehran have congruent interests that the military balance in Syria should not tilt, although some redeployment of Russian forces from Syria to the conflict zones in Ukraine is to be expected.

Collaterally, Iran’s role as a stabilizer in the Syrian situation can only become more prominent. Meanwhile, Erdogan sees a window of opportunity to tiptoe around the presence of US and Russian forces in northern Syria and take control over the Kurdish autonomous regions. Turkey has also moved hundreds of troops, armor, and firepower to boost its presence around Idlib in northwestern Syria, which, if Ankara fails to reach an understanding with Russia, could come under attack.

There was a time until recently when Moscow and Washington stood in the way of any Turkish offensive to take territory from Kurdish forces. But that looks like a bygone era now. Turkey finds itself in a far better position than ever before to cut the Gordian knot that thwarted its ambitions and delayed any large scale offensive to pursue those ambitions in northern Syria.

An opportunity for Iran?

This evolving segment of the Syrian conundrum must be bothering Iran. However, no less significant is the contradiction regarding Russia’s relations with Israel, which provided the latter the space to attack Iranian assets in Syria.

Iran is intensely conscious that Israeli intelligence is ’embedded’ in US bases all across the region, which not only gives cover for intelligence gathering but also grooms Israel, as it were, for future roles as a subaltern of the US Central Command (CENTCOM) — the US military’s command center which covers activities from Egypt and West Asia to Central and South Asia.

Last year in January, the Pentagon reported a change in the Unified Command Plan shifting Israel from US European Command (EUCOM) to CENTCOM in a move envisaging the “strategic upgrade” of that country’s future role in West Asia as Washington pays greater attention to the Indo-Pacific.

All things considered, it must be a welcome development for Iran that there is greater clarity now about the limits to the Russian-Israeli relationship. Israel tried hard initially to remain neutral in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia and even projected an aspirational role as facilitator-cum-mediator. But the Biden Administration would have none of it and has come down on the Naftali Bennett government like a ton of bricks, demanding that it must behave like any subaltern is expected to do.

Israel-Russia relations are being tested

Israelis are realists. Which is why Foreign Minister Yair Lapid went down on his knees to explicitly accuse Russia of war crimes in Ukraine. But in the process, Lapid went somewhat overboard, as he chose a venue in Greece in the presence of his Greek and Cypriot counterparts to lambast Russia:

“A large and powerful country has invaded a smaller neighbour without any justification. Once again, the ground is soaked with the blood of innocent civilians. The images and testimony from Ukraine are horrific. Russian forces committed war crimes against a defenceless civilian population. I strongly condemn these war crimes.”

Lapid, a former general himself who is no stranger to war crimes, probably ingratiated himself personally with the Russophobic “hawks” in Washington, being Israel’s next prime minister. But he twisted the knife deep into the Russian consciousness. And Moscow’s reaction has been swift.

Not only was the Israeli ambassador summoned by the Russian Foreign Ministry but two other things happened in quick succession. First, in a not-too-subtle hint, Admiral Oleg Zhuravlev, the deputy chief of the Russian Centre for Reconciliation of the Opposing Parties in Syria, disclosed that  a Syrian-operated, Russian-made Buk M2E air defense system had recently intercepted a guided missile fired from an Israeli F-16 fighter jet in Syrian airspace.

The disclosure of the Syrian interception was as good a warning as there could be that Russia might no longer tolerate future Israeli strikes against targets in Syria (which are mostly Iranian assets.)

Second, Putin himself appeared on the scene writing a letter to Bennett demanding that Israel should transfer control of Jerusalem’s Church of St. Alexander Nevsky to Russia, as was promised by Netanyahu as part of a deal two years ago to win the release of an Israeli-American national detained in Russia on drug charges.

This latter issue will be a bitter pill for Bennett to swallow — to transfer to Russia the custodianship of the church located in Jerusalem’s Old City. The church is of exceptional importance to the Russian Orthodox Church and is a place of pilgrimage for Orthodox Russians who are inextricably linked with the rising tide of Russian nationalism.

Voice of America report lost no time in noting that “the issue is one of the latest flashpoint in the increasingly contentious relations between the two countries during the Russian war against Ukraine.”

Long-term planning

While Israel has a parochial and time-serving foreign policy, what distinguishes Iran’s compass is its sheer breadth of strategic vision. Iran understands perfectly well that the west is pursuing dangerous intentions in the Ukraine crisis.

Tehran sees through “the west’s strategy of turning Ukraine into a deadly quagmire for Russia to create the conditions for the west to play a more active role on the world stage, especially in the eastern hemisphere, by removing it from the list of major players on the international stage,” as an influential Iranian commentator wrote last week.

Conceivably, Iran’s best hope and interest would lie in Russia’s success in overcoming the crisis which may lead to a reset of the world order in the direction of greater multipolarity away from the prevailing western-led political and financial systems.

Evidently, the Biden administration is taking its own time to reach an agreement with Iran on the lifting of sanctions against Iran. It is baiting Tehran with patently-contrived, fantastic propositions almost on a daily basis: while Washington may remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from the terror list, its elite Quds Force shall remain branded as such; and so forth.

However, the heart of the matter is that the Biden administration’s foreign policies are currently Russia-centric (rather, ‘Putin-centric’) and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Washington is seeking reasonable certainty that Iran is willing to distance itself from Russia. The specter that haunts the Biden administration is the sheer possibility of two energy superpowers — with ideological affinities for a just and equitable world order and multipolar trade and currency regimes — working in tandem, which the US is hard-pressed to counter effectively.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

Bennett Must Tread Carefully: The ‘Sword of Jerusalem’ Could Be Unleashed Again

This time around, Palestinians fear that Israel aims at more than just mere provocations. Instead, it plans to “impose a temporal and spatial division of Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

April 27th, 2022

By Ramzy Baroud

Starting on April 15, the Israeli occupation army and police raided Al-Aqsa Mosque in Occupied East Jerusalem on a daily basis. Under the pretense of providing protection to provocative ‘visits’ by thousands of illegal Israeli Jewish settlers and right-wing fanatics, the Israeli army has wounded hundreds of Palestinians, including journalists, and arrested hundreds more.

Palestinians understand that the current attacks on Al-Aqsa carry deeper political and strategic meanings for Israel than previous raids.

Al-Aqsa has experienced routine raids by Israeli forces under various guises in the past. However, the significance of the Mosque has acquired additional meanings in recent years, especially following the popular Palestinian rebellion, mass protests, clashes, and a war on Gaza last May, which Palestinians tellingly refer to as Saif Al Quds – Operation Sword of Jerusalem.

Historically, Haram Al-Sharif – or the Noble Sanctuary – has been at the heart of popular struggle in Palestine, as well as at the center of Israeli policies. Located in the Old City of Occupied East Jerusalem, the Sanctuary is considered one of the holiest sites for all Muslims. It has a special place in Islam, as it has been mentioned in the Holy Quran and frequently in the Hadith – the Sayings of Prophet Mohammed. The compound contains several historic mosques and 17 gates, along with other important Islamic sites. Al-Aqsa is one of these mosques.

Israel Palestinians

Israeli security forces carry out a Ramadhan raid in the Old City of Jerusalem, April 17, 2022. Mahmoud Illean | AP

But for Palestinians, the significance of Al-Aqsa has gained additional meaning due to the Israeli occupation which, throughout the years, has targeted Palestinian mosques, churches, and other holy sites. For example, during the 2014 Israeli war on the besieged Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs said that 203 mosques were damaged by Israeli bombs, with 73 being completely destroyed.

Therefore, Palestinian Muslims, but also Christians, consider Al-Aqsa, the Sanctuary, and other Muslim and Christian sites in Jerusalem, a red line that must not be crossed by Israel. Generation after generation, they have mobilized to protect the sites though, at times, they could not, including in 1969 when Australian Jewish extremist, Denis Michael Rohan carried out an arson attack in Al-Aqsa.

Even the recent raids on the Mosque were not confined to the bodily harm and mass arrest of worshippers. On April 15, the second Friday of Ramadan, much destruction took place at Al-Aqsa, where the Mosque’s famous stained-glass windows were shattered and furniture inside was left broken.

The raids on the Haram Al-Sharif continue, at the time of writing this article. The Jewish extremists are feeling increasingly empowered by the protection they are receiving from the Israeli military, and the blank check provided to them by influential Israeli politicians. Many of the raids are often led by far-right Israeli Knesset member Itamar Ben-Gvir, Likud politician Yehuda Glick and former government minister Uri Ariel.

Cycle of Violence: Israeli Authorities Prod Extremist Militias into Seeking “Vigilante Justice”

Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, is undoubtedly using the raids on Al-Aqsa as a way to keep his often rebellious far-right and religious constituency in line. The sudden resignation on April 6 of Idit Silman, a member of the Yamina right-wing party, left Bennett even more desperate in his attempt to breathe life in his fractious coalition. Once a leader of the Yesha Council, an umbrella organization of West Bank illegal settlements, Bennett rose to power on the back of religious zealots, whether in Israel or in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Losing the support of settlers could simply cost him his post.

Bennett’s behavior is consistent with those of previous Israeli leaders, who have escalated violence in Al-Aqsa as a way to distract from their own political woes, or to appeal to Israel’s powerful constituency of right-wing and religious extremists. In September 2000, then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon raided the Mosque with thousands of Israeli soldiers, police, and like-minded extremists. He did so to provoke a Palestinian response, and to topple the government of his archenemy Ehud Barak. Sharon succeeded, but at a high price, as his ‘visit’ unleashed the five-year-long Second Palestinian Intifada, also known as Al-Aqsa Intifada.

In 2017, thousands of Palestinians protested an Israeli attempt at installing ‘security cameras’ at the entrances of the holy shrine. The measure was also an attempt by former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to appease his right-wing supporters. But the mass protests in Jerusalem and the subsequent Palestinian unity at the time forced Israel to cancel its plans.

This time around, however, Palestinians fear that Israel aims at more than just mere provocations. Israel plans to “impose a temporal and spatial division of Al-Aqsa Mosque”, according to Adnan Ghaith, the Palestinian Authority’s top representative in East Jerusalem. This particular phrase, ‘temporal and spatial division’, is also used by many Palestinians, as they fear a repeat of the Ibrahimi Mosque scenario.

Following the killing of 29 worshippers in 1994 at the hands of an Israeli Jewish extremist, Baruch Goldstein, and the subsequent killing of many more Palestinians by the Israeli army at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron (Al-Khalil), Israel partitioned the mosque. It allocated a larger space to the Jewish settlers while restricting access to Palestinians, who are allowed to pray at certain times and barred at others. This is precisely what Palestinians mean by temporal and spatial division, which has been at the heart of Israeli strategy for many years.

Prayer mats covered in blood at the Ibrahimi mosque in the aftermath of the massacre carried out by Jewish settler Baruch Goldstein, February 25, 1994. (Photo: Al-Khalil)

Prayer mats covered in blood at the Ibrahimi mosque in the aftermath of the massacre carried out by Jewish settler Baruch Goldstein, February 25, 1994. (Photo: Al-Khalil)

Bennett, however, must tread carefully. Palestinians today are more united in their resistance and awareness of the Israeli designs than at any other time in the past. An important component of this unity is the Palestinian Arab population in historic Palestine, who are now championing a similar political discourse as that of Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. In fact, many of the defenders of Al-Aqsa come from these very communities. If Israel continues with its provocations in Al-Aqsa, it risks another Palestinian revolt as that of May, which tellingly started in East Jerusalem.

Appealing to right-wing voters by attacking, humiliating, and provoking Palestinians is no longer an easy task, as was often the case. As the ‘Sword of Jerusalem’ has taught us, Palestinians are now capable of responding in a unified fashion and, despite their limited means, even putting pressure on Israel to reverse its policies. Bennett must remember this before carrying out any more violent provocations.

Feature photo | A protester uses a slingshot against Israeli security forces in Burqa, north of Nablus, April 19, 2022. Nasser Nasser | AP

Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

‘Temporal and Spatial’ Division: Why Israel’s Endgame at Al-Aqsa Mosque Will Fail

April 27, 2022

Thousands of Palestinians rally in Gaza in solidarity with Palestinians at Al-Aqsa Mosque. (Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Ramzy Baroud

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

Starting on April 15, the Israeli occupation army and police raided Al-Aqsa Mosque in Occupied East Jerusalem on a daily basis. Under the pretense of providing protection to provocative ‘visits’ by thousands of illegal Israeli Jewish settlers and rightwing fanatics, the Israeli army has wounded hundreds of Palestinians, including journalists, and arrested hundreds more.

Palestinians understand that the current attacks on Al-Aqsa carry deeper political and strategic meanings for Israel than previous raids.

Al-Aqsa has experienced routine raids by Israeli forces under various guises in the past. However, the significance of the Mosque has acquired additional meanings in recent years, especially following the popular Palestinian rebellion, mass protests, clashes and a war on Gaza last May, which Palestinians tellingly refer to as Saif Al Quds – Operation Sword of Jerusalem.

Historically, Haram Al-Sharif – or the Noble Sanctuary – has been at the heart of popular struggle in Palestine, as well as at the center of Israeli policies. Located in the Old City of Occupied East Jerusalem, the Sanctuary is considered one of the holiest sites for all Muslims. It has a special place in Islam, as it has been mentioned in the Holy Quran and frequently in the Hadith – the Sayings of Prophet Mohammed. The compound contains several historic mosques and 17 gates, along with other important Islamic sites. Al-Aqsa is one of these mosques.

But for Palestinians, the significance of Al-Aqsa has gained additional meaning due to the Israeli occupation which, throughout the years, has targeted Palestinian mosques, churches and other holy sites. For example, during the 2014 Israeli war on the besieged Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs said that 203 mosques were damaged by Israeli bombs, with 73 being completely destroyed.

Therefore, Palestinian Muslims, but also Christians, consider Al-Aqsa, the Sanctuary and other Muslim and Christian sites in Jerusalem, a red line that must not be crossed by Israel. Generation after generation, they have mobilized to protect the sites though, at times, they could not, including in 1969 when Australian Jewish extremist, Denis Michael Rohan carried out an arson attack in Al-Aqsa.

Even the recent raids on the Mosque were not confined to the bodily harm and mass arrest of worshippers. On April 15, the second Friday of Ramadan, much destruction took place at Al-Aqsa, where the Mosque’s famous stained-glass windows were shattered and furniture inside was left broken.

The raids on the Haram Al-Sharif continue, at the time of writing of this article. The Jewish extremists are feeling increasingly empowered by the protection they are receiving from the Israeli military, and the blank check provided to them by influential Israeli politicians. Many of the raids are often led by far-right Israeli Knesset member Itamar Ben-Gvir, Likud politician Yehuda Glick and former government minister Uri Ariel.

Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, is undoubtedly using the raids on Al-Aqsa as a way to keep his often rebellious far-right and religious constituency in line. The sudden resignation on April 6 of Idit Silman, a member of the Yamina right-wing party, left Bennett even more desperate in his attempt to breathe life in his fractious coalition. Once a leader of the Yesha Council, an umbrella organization of West Bank illegal settlements, Bennett rose to power on the back of religious zealots, whether in Israel or in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Losing support of the settlers could simply cost him his post.

Bennett’s behavior is consistent with those of previous Israeli leaders, who have escalated violence in Al-Aqsa as a way to distract from their own political woes, or to appeal to Israel’s powerful constituency of rightwing and religious extremists. In September 2000, then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon raided the Mosque with thousands of Israeli soldiers, police and like-minded extremists. He did so to provoke a Palestinian response, and to topple the government of his archenemy Ehud Barak. Sharon succeeded, but at a high price, as his ‘visit’ unleashed the five-year-long Second Palestinian Intifada, also known as Al-Aqsa Intifada.

In 2017, thousands of Palestinians protested an Israeli attempt at installing ‘security cameras’ at the entrances of the holy shrine. The measure was also an attempt by former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to appease his right-wing supporters. But the mass protests in Jerusalem and the subsequent Palestinian unity at the time forced Israel to cancel its plans.

This time around, however, Palestinians fear that Israel aims at more than just mere provocations. Israel plans to “impose a temporal and spatial division of Al-Aqsa Mosque”, according to Adnan Ghaith, the Palestinian Authority’s top representative in East Jerusalem. This particular phrase, ‘temporal and spatial division’, is also used by many Palestinians, as they fear a repeat of the Ibrahimi Mosque scenario.

Following the killing of 29 worshippers in 1994 at the hands of an Israeli Jewish extremist, Baruch Goldstein, and the subsequent killing of many more Palestinians by the Israeli army at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron (Al-Khalil), Israel partitioned the mosque. It allocated a larger space to the Jewish settlers while restricting access to Palestinians, who are allowed to pray at certain times and barred at others. This is precisely what Palestinians mean by temporal and spatial division, which has been at the heart of Israeli strategy for many years.

Bennett, however, must tread carefully. Palestinians today are more united in their resistance and awareness of the Israeli designs than at any other time in the past. An important component of this unity is the Palestinian Arab population in historic Palestine, who are now championing a similar political discourse as that of Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In fact, many of the defenders of Al-Aqsa come from these very communities. If Israel continues with its provocations in Al-Aqsa, it risks another Palestinian revolt as that of May, which tellingly started in East Jerusalem.

Appealing to rightwing voters by attacking, humiliating and provoking Palestinians is no longer an easy task, as was often the case. As the ‘Sword of Jerusalem’ has taught us, Palestinians are now capable of responding in a unified fashion and, despite their limited means, even putting pressure on Israel to reverse its policies. Bennett must remember this before carrying out any more violent provocations.

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