An explosion of resistance against attempts to force Palestinians out of Jerusalem has exposed Israel’s racism and brutality.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians have resisted an attempt by Israel to evict Palestinian families from their homes—despite attacks by Israeli cops and settlers.
Israeli police launched a brutal assault on Palestinians at the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City on Monday. Cops fired rubber bullets and tear gas at Palestinians inside the mosque’s compound.
Nour Mtour, who had spent the night at the mosque, told the Al Jazeera news website, “Snipers went on the roof of the gate at the mosque compound.” They “began to shoot rubber bullets at everyone—women, men, everyone”.
“At the same time a huge number of police forces invaded from different directions,” said Nour.
“I saw the Israeli police attacking the paramedics with batons who were doing their job. They were firing rubber bullets randomly at everyone.”
The assault was aimed at clearing the way for a march of tens of thousands of Israelis celebrating the anniversary of Israel’s invasion of east Jerusalem.
Israel invaded east Jerusalem in 1967 and later claimed it as its own. It has tried to push Palestinians out ever since to create a Jewish majority in the city.
Tens of thousands of Israelis march through Palestinian neighbourhoods every year—taunting and mocking the people who live there.
The assault came as Palestinians resist an attempt to evict families from their homes in favour of Israeli settlers.
The settlers want to use laws that privilege them over Palestinians to take over buildings in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of east Jerusalem.
These say that Palestinians in east Jerusalem can be evicted from their homes if the court decides the land was owned by Jews before Israel was created. And that’s even if Palestinians were there for decades.
Israel passed the law in 1970—three years after invading and occupying east Jerusalem in 1967.
They are part of an attempt to push Palestinians out of city so that Israel can keep a Jewish ethnic majority. Once Palestinians are evicted, the homes are often sold or given to Israeli settlers.
Meanwhile, the families of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who were expelled from their homes when Israel was created in 1948 are denied the right to return.
Nabeel al-Kurd, a 77-year-old whose family faces losing their home, said the evictions were a racist attempt to “expel Palestinians and replace them with settlers”.
Another, Abdelfatah Skafi, said, “It’s the height of racism. Jews can get back their properties but not the Arabs.”
One of Israel’s deputy mayors of Jerusalem, Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, confirmed the law privileges Jews over Palestinians. “Of course there are laws that some people may consider as favouring Jews—it’s a Jewish state,” she said.
Palestinians have protested for weeks against the planned evictions. But Israeli cops responded water canon and stun grenades—part of a wider and ever more brutal crackdown on Palestinians in east Jerusalem during Ramadan.
Some 200 people were injured as riot cops attacked Palestinians in Jerusalem’s Old City—site of the Al Aqsa Mosque—on Friday of last week.
Palestinians fought back. Up to 90,000 prayed at Al Aqsa mosque in defiance of Israeli cops’ attempts to stop them. Many marched in from towns outside Jerusalem after cops kicked them off busses bringing them into the city.
The resistance forced Israel to delay the court ruling that is expected to approve the Palestinians’ eviction.
It also forced rulers of nearby Arab states—including those that recently signed “peace deals” with Israel—to condemn the attacks on Palestinians.
They know the heroic resistance in east Jerusalem has the potential to spread across Palestine—and even further.
That’s why Palestinians’ struggle should be supported by everyone who wants to fight racism and imperialism.