Israeli-Palestinian clashes in Jerusalem: Everything you must know!
Jerusalem is home to major religious sites that are sacred to Jews, Muslims, and Christians and is also the epicenter of Middle East Conflict.
The clashes between the Israeli police and Palestinian protestors have been taking place on a daily basis in and around Jerusalem’s Old City, for weeks now. Jerusalem is home to major religious sites that are sacred to Jews, Muslims, and Christians and is also the epicenter of Middle East Conflict.
For 100 years, Jerusalem has been the place of violent confrontations between Arabs and Jews and has remained one of the most bitterly contested cities known.
However, the latest clashes in Jerusalem started a month ago with an Israeli move to stop some Palestinian gatherings at the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, it is already a time of heightened religious sensitivities.
After the restrictions by Israel were eased, tensions over a plan of evicting dozens of Palestinians from an east Jerusalem neighborhood continue to fuel the confrontations between the two groups.
On May 10, 2021, stun grenades echoed all over the holy hilltop compound. Hundreds of Palestinians were hurt in the clashes between the stone-throwing protestors and Israeli Police firing tear gas and rubber bullets. Police amid the clash was also injured.
Even with strong global condemnation, the clashes and confrontation between Israel and Palestine have continued. Read here to know more about what set off the latest violence in Jerusalem.
Jerusalem: Capital of Israelis and Palestinians
The people of Israel have viewed Jerusalem as its ‘unified, eternal’ capital. The country had captured east Jerusalem, which also includes the Old City, during the 1967 Mideast war, along with Gaza and West Bank.
On the other hand, the people of Palestine demand those territories for their future state, with East Jerusalem serving as an eventual capital. But Israeli government annexed the eastern part of Jerusalem in a move that is not recognized internationally.
The conflict has led to the path where the fate of east Jerusalem has become one of the thorniest issues in the peace process, leading to a halt more than a decade ago.
On May 10, 2021, Israelis were set to mark Jerusalem Day. It is a national holiday celebrating the annexation.
In the past years, thousands of Israelis- mainly the religious nationalists-have marched through the old city of Jerusalem, including the densely populated Muslim Quarter, in a display that has been considered provocative by many Palestinians.
Significance of the Holy Hilltop:
The clashes on May 10, 2021, took place in and around the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem. The mosque is considered to be the third-holiest site in Islam and it sits on a sprawling plateau that is home to the iconic golden Dome of the Rock. Muslims refer to the Holy Hilltop Compound as the Noble Sanctuary.
For Jews, the walled plateau is also the holiest site. They refer to it as the temple mount as it was the location of biblical temples. In 70 A.D., the Romans destroyed the Second Temple, with only the Western Wall remaining.
The mosques by Muslims were built centuries later. Neighbouring Jordan has been serving as the custodian of the site, which is operated by an Islamic endowment called the Waqf.
The groups of the religious and nationalist Jews, in recent years, escorted by the police have been seen visiting the Holy Hilltop Compound in greater number. They have also been holding prayers in defiance of the rules that were established after 1967 by Jordan, Israel, and Muslim religious authorities.
These frequent visits and attempted prayers by Jews have been seen by the Palestinians as a provocation which often leads to more serious violence.
Some Israelis have stated that the site must be opened to all the worshippers. However, the Palestinians refuse and fear that Israelis will take over the site or partition it. The officials of Israel have said that they have no intention of changing the status quo.
Policy discrimination between Israeli and Palestinians:
Jews who are born in east Jerusalem are Israeli citizens, while the Palestinians from East Jerusalem are given a form of permanent residency which can be revoked by the authorities if they live outside the city for an extended period.
Jewish settlements have been built by Israel in east Jerusalem that is home to around 2,20,000 people. The settlements have severely limited the growth of Palestinian neighborhoods which leads to overcrowding as well as unauthorized construction of thousands of homes that are at risk of demolition.
The New York-based- Human Rights Watch and Israeli Rights Group B”Tselem pointed the discriminatory policies in east Jerusalem and argued that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid. Israel, on the other hand, has rejected those allegations stating that Jerusalem residents are treated equally.
Threatened evictions of Palestinians from East Jerusalem:
The recent clashes in Jerusalem started at the start of Ramadan when the Israeli police placed barricades outside the Damascus Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem. It is a popular gathering place after the evening prayers during the holy month when Muslims fast from dawn to dusk.
The police later removed the barriers, but later the protests escalated over the threatened eviction of Palestinian families from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.
Jerusalem violence leads to wider unrest:
The violence in Jerusalem and particularly in Al-Aqsa is often reflected across the region.
The Palestinian Militant Group Hamad, which rules Gaza, has called for a new uprising, same as the one triggered by an Israeli Politician’s visit to Al-Aqsa in 2000. The militants of Gaza have also fired rockets and balloons with devices attached to them in support of the Palestinian protestors.
The protests have been held in the occupied West Bank and in the Arab communities which are inside Israel.
Jordan as well as other Arab nations that have friendly relations with Israel have condemned its crackdown on the protests, while the archenemy of Israel Iran has encouraged the Palestinian protests.
The United States and European Union have also condemned the violence and have expressed concerns about the evictions.