To understand the upsurge in violence in Jerusalem, one has to understand what’s being done to Palestinians in the city, says Shannon Ebrahim.
Pretoria - The two-state solution is dead. There is no hope of negotiations under the current Israeli government, and Israel’s Deputy Minister of Defence Eli Ben-Dahan said so himself a week ago. “Palestinians have to understand they won’t have a state, and Israel will rule over them.” According to the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, 75 percent of Israeli Jews oppose a two-state solution.
It is not just about having a state, but also the racism with which many Israelis view the Palestinians. The very same Ben- Dahan said in 2013 as deputy minister of religious services: “To me, they (the Palestinians) are like animals; they aren’t even human.” Two years later, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made him deputy minister of defence.
This is what the Nazis told the Germans in the late 1930s – that the Jews are like animals; they aren’t even human.
Unfortunately, many Israeli settlers taking over Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem feel the same way as Ben-Dahan, which is fuelling sporadic acts of Palestinian resistance.
The strategy of extreme right-wing settlers in East Jerusalem is quite simple: to expel the Palestinians from their land, in keeping with Israel’s policy of Judaisation of the city. The settlers have been using a variety of methods over the past decade to ensure this happens. Ateret Cohanim is the extreme Israeli settler organisation intent on implementing this strategy.
To understand the upsurge in violence in Jerusalem, one has to understand what the settler organisations have been doing to the Palestinians in the city. This is in addition to the raft of legislation meant to impoverish the Palestinians of East Jerusalem with the endgame of forcing them from their land.
The neighbourhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem is a prime example of what is happening to Palestinians across occupied East Jerusalem. On September 1, the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) accompanied a large group of Israeli settlers who moved into a formerly Palestinian-owned building in Silwan. The settlers broke down the main door of the building with the assistance of Israeli soldiers.
Just four days before, on August 28, 60 settlers had taken an adjacent property in Silwan with the assistance of the IDF.
Ateret Cohanim told the Palestinian owners of the property that they had won a favourable judgment from the Israeli courts to take over the property, so they should sell or be forcibly evicted.
This is part of Ateret Cohanim’s colonisation push in East Jerusalem, and this particular area of Silwan is of strategic importance to them as it overlooks the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which they are intent on destroying in order to rebuild the Temple Mount.
Part of the strategy of taking over Palestinian property requires terrorising the Palestinian residents of Silwan, using the tactic of hit-and-run attacks, especially targeting Palestinian children.
Take the case of the 3-year-old Palestinian boy Yasser Shammas who was waiting with his mother to cross the road in Silwan on June 20 last year. He was deliberately run over by an Israeli settler.
Hit-and-run attacks against Palestinian children by Israeli settlers are well documented across East Jerusalem and the West Bank. A few examples are: a 5-year- old run over by settlers in the West Bank on January 24, 5-year-old Zakariya Umour run over in the West Bank on April 28, a 10-year-old in Hebron on June 22, a 12-year-old in Jenin on August 7, and 10-year-old Mohammed Najjar on August 16 in Nablus.
All that is left for the Palestinians of East Jerusalem is resistance. There is no organised resistance and no Palestinian leadership in East Jerusalem, so all that is left is their ability to lash out in any way they can.
This explains the recent spate of stabbings of Israelis at bus stops, on buses and in settlements: It is the frustration of years of repression and the most recent settler push to take their land and kill their children that is now boiling over into the open.
According to Defence for Children International, between January and September this year Israelis killed on average 45 Palestinians a week. In just the past two weeks, Israelis have killed 24 Palestinians, including eight children, injured over 1 300 and arrested more than 400 (half between the ages of 14 and 20).
Simply put, Israelis don’t care what is happening to the Palestinians.
At the height of the Israeli assault on Gaza when 18 000 Palestinian homes were demolished, the US senate voted 100-0 to support the Israeli government.
The message the Israeli settlers took from this was: “We can do anything we want to the Palestinians – kill, invade, and take over their neighbourhoods.”
And this is exactly what they are doing.
* Shannon Ebrahim is Independent Media’s Foreign Editor.