by Yusuf Dhia-Allah (Special Reports, Crescent International Vol. 45, No. 7, Dhu al-Qa'dah, 1437)
The Zionists not only want to occupy the whole of Palestine but their special target is al Masjid al Aqsa, the holy sanctuary. They have intensified their attacks in recent weeks as Muslim attention is diverted elsewhere.
Beset by illegitimate regimes and brutal occupiers, Muslims everywhere are suffering greatly. As if the historical injustices inflicted on the people of Kashmir and Palestine were not enough, new ones have been added in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. In all these and more, foreign occupation armies and their local mercenaries are busy slaughtering innocent people.
Palestine that houses al-Masjid al-Aqsa — the “Distant” Masjid in Jerusalem — is the special target of aggressively bellicose Zionists. Palestinian lands in the West Bank and houses in East Jerusalem are being forcibly taken over by illegal Zionist squatters euphemistically called Jewish settlers. They are illegal aliens from North America, Europe — East and West — and Australia. Aided and abetted by the Zionist occupation army, the heavily armed squatters attack, maim, and kill Palestinian men, women, and children. There is not a village or town that has escaped Zionist aggression. Thousands of Palestinians, estimated at some 10,000, are languishing in Israeli jails. Among them are 110 minors. The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said on August 16 that in the first six months of this year, the Zionist occupation forces had arrested 560 children including a large number of minors. These children are subjected to physical and psychological abuse. Many children have suffered deep trauma.
The Zionists are pursuing a three-pronged strategy. West Bank lands are subjected to creeping annexation. In Jerusalem, the Zionists are pushing to occupy the Holy Sanctuary under the spurious pretext that on its site once stood their second Temple. And the tiny Gaza Strip that is home to 1.8 million Palestinians is subjected to a tight siege that has created mass poverty among the population.
Zionist squatters have embarked on an aggressive policy to occupy the Holy Sanctuary. Their aim is to destroy it and in its place they want to build their mythical third Temple. Jewish religious law expressly forbids Jews from trespassing on the sacred compound; there is even a board outside the Maghribiyah Gate warning Jews not to set foot on the Holy Sanctuary, but the Zionists while claiming to be following God’s law, actually trample upon it. Encroachments on the Holy Sanctuary have increased over the last 12 months, especially in recent weeks.
Since August 2015, the Zionist occupation regime has imposed restrictions on Palestinian worshippers’ entry into al-Aqsa compound. This is a flagrant violation of the Palestinians’ fundamental right. Resistance to such restrictions is faced with Zionist brute force. Since the beginning of October 2015, more than 220 Palestinians have been murdered by the Zionist occupiers. Even in instances when the Palestinians are lying on the ground, the trigger-happy soldiers have shot them in the head killing them instantly.
Meanwhile, Zionist encroachment on the Holy Sanctuary continues. On August 13 for instance, some 300 Zionist squatters barged onto the Holy Sanctuary ostensibly to commemorate what they said was the Jewish fasting holy day of Ninth of Av. Why did they have to commemorate it on the grounds of the Holy Sanctuary? Jewish commemorations, however, are considered privileged and must take precedence over others’ laws, religion, or rights. When the Palestinians resist such encroachments — as is their legal, moral, and religious right — the Zionist occupation forces attack them. At least 20 Palestinians were injured in the Zionist assault on August 13. The following day, more illegal squatters arrived, this time protected by the Zionist occupation army.
The Director of al-Masjid al-Aqsa, Shaykh Omar al-Kiswani reminded the Zionist regime that this was in clear violation of both the Hague Convention of 1907 and the Geneva Conventions of 1949. It was also in violation of a written agreement with the Jordanian regime at the time the Zionists occupied Jerusalem in June 1967 that bars non-Muslims from acts of worship at the Holy Sanctuary. The Zionist regime took refuge behind the claim that it was a group of “foreign and non-Muslim” visitors that had entered the compound. While this is a complete lie, something the Zionists are experts at doing, the fact is that the 1967 agreement expressly forbids worship by non-Muslims — whether visitors or squatters — at the Holy Sanctuary. The Zionist regime is under legal obligation as an occupying power, to prevent this from happening. The “foreign, non-Muslim” visitors did not enter Occupied Palestine with the permission of Muslims. Their entry into the Holy Land was facilitated by the Zionist regime.
Shaykh Omar al-Kiswani also said the Zionist occupation forces had enforced tight security measures around the compound, but the squatters still gathered at the site under armed escort on the morning of August 14. Why were they not prevented from entering the sacred compound? Obviously, tight security measures are put in place to prevent Palestinians from coming to al-Aqsa in large numbers to resist the Zionist squatters; they are not meant to deter Zionist squatters from their illegal acts.
“We deny Israel’s claim that these raids are just visits and tourism. Israeli settlers are constantly raiding al-Masjid al-Aqsa compound to provoke the Muslim worship-pers by practicing prayers and rituals in a holy place for Muslims only,” Shaykh al-Kiswani said, adding, “Israel is violating all international regulations by its procedures in al-Aqsa compound.” The Zionists are not constrained by any laws or legality. If they can openly flaunt Jewish rabbinical law prohibiting trespassing on the Holy Sanctuary, why would they care much about an agreement signed with a puppet regime like that in Jordan? In fact, the Jordanian regime exists to provide protection to the illegal Zionist entity.
The issue is one of power. The Zionist regime has one of the most heavily armed militaries in the world amply supplied by the US and European powers. Additionally, the US also pumps billions of dollars annually into the economy of the illegal entity to keep it afloat. Officially, the US provides $3.5 billion in regular aid (handouts) and several billion more in military aid but unofficially, the Zionist State sucks about $15 billion from the US through various organizations and “charities” even while 40 million American citizens (African-Americans) languish in perpetual poverty.
Easy American money, lethal weapons, and US political and diplomatic backing have made the Zionists arrogant to the point of being obnoxious. President Barack Obama loathes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but he cannot say no to whatever he demands from the US. The Zionists have an absolute stranglehold on the American political system with every politician asking “how high” when commanded by the Zionists to jump. American politicians of every stripe cringe before their Zionist masters.
The squatters have also taken over large tracts of land in the West Bank and 500,000 of them have colonized the area with 230 illegal “settlements.” That such settlements are illegal under international law as well as the law governing the conduct of an occupying power is well known but Zionist Israel is not constrained by any law. Further, the Geneva Conventions require the occupying regime to protect the population under its control. Instead, the gun-toting Zionist forces are busy killing and brutalizing the Palestinians and stealing their land.
The 500,000 Zionist squatters consume more than 90% of the water in the West Bank; the 10% left for 2.8 million Palestinians is used for drinking, washing, and watering their lands to produce whatever meager produce that will yield. Throughout the sweltering summer heat, the Zionists enjoy themselves in swimming pools while the Palestinians do not have enough water even to drink. Zionist squatters also indulge in extremely obnoxious behavior. Their “settlements” are on high ground with Palestinian villages and farms below. Often, the squatters would flush their toilet water with all its filth onto Palestinian lands and villages in a deliberate attempt to humiliate them. Only the Zionists are capable of such filthy conduct that creates a stink.
Then there are the ubiquitous checkpoints — chokepoints would be a more accurate description. Palestinian movement is severely restricted. The Zionists deliberately detain them for hours, even in cases of medical emergencies such as heart patients or even pregnant mothers in labor being rushed to hospital to deliver the baby. Many Palestinian mothers have had to give birth at these checkpoints because Israeli soldiers refuse permission for them to pass to go to the hospital. Such humiliations are a regular feature of life for ordinary Palestinians.
The Zionist regime has also intensified the demolition of Palestinian homes and other infrastructure. These have alarmed even the UN whose Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which said on August 12 that a total of 726 Palestinian structures had been razed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem since January. These demolitions have affected 1,020 Palestinians. The structures include houses, shelters for livestock, and installations such as solar panels. Zionist vandalism in the first seven months of this year is 36% higher than the destruction wrought in the whole of last year when 533 structures were demolished and 688 Palestinians were displaced.
The Israeli rights group B’Tselem also said that since the beginning of 2016, the Zionist regime has razed at least 188 homes in the West Bank, the highest ever since it started documenting home demolitions in 2006. Such demolitions are carried out on the pretext of “lack of building permits.” Lack of building permits is another ploy used by the Zionist colonizers, especially in Jerusalem.
Palestinians are neither given building permits to extend their homes nor permits to repair those that need such work. Then, using the excuse that these structures are unsafe, the Zionists confiscate the properties and throw the Palestinians out of homes they have owned and lived in for generations. Palestinians in Jerusalem are particularly vulnerable but those on the West Bank are no less threatened. Any area, locality, or houses the Zionists covet, are taken away from the Palestinians and they are thrown out.
Even European Union funded structures are not immune from Zionist vandalism. In a rare rebuke on August 11, the French government condemned Israel for razing several French-funded buildings in the occupied West Bank. Paris warned the Zionist regime against destroying structures funded by the European Union (EU) member states. “France condemns the Israeli army’s destruction of several structures funded by France in the Palestinian village of Nabi Samuel on August 3,” the French government said in a statement.
“This is the third time that buildings funded through French humanitarian aid have been demolished or confiscated by Israeli authorities since the beginning of 2016, and notably follows the dismantling of a school in February,” it added. The statement also denounced Israeli demolition of three EU-funded shelters near the city of al-Khalil (Hebron) in the southern West Bank on August 9, voicing alarm at the pace of such moves by Israel. “With several other EU projects destroyed south of Hebron, France expresses its deep concern over the accelerating rate of these demolitions and confiscations of humanitarian structures built for the Palestinian people in Area C,” it said.
Area C under full Israeli military control covers 360,000 hectares (890,000 acres) of land. This comprises 60% of the West Bank’s total area. Under the 1993 Oslo Accords, the West Bank was divided between Israel and the Palestinians into three distinct areas for administrative purposes. Area A was given under full Palestinian control, Area B under shared Israeli-Palestinian control, and Area C under Israeli control.
In late July, EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen said that, since 2009, approximately 170 EU-funded structures, valued at $268,000, had been demolished or confiscated. Similarly another 600 structures, worth $2.5 million, had also been issued demolition, stop-work, or eviction orders and are therefore under the threat of demolition, he added. Even the US was concerned about Israeli demolitions issuing a statement on August 9. “We remain troubled that Israel continues this pattern of provocative and counterproductive action, which raises serious questions about Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement with the Palestinians,” the US State Department said.
The US and its illegitimate child, Zionist Israel, continue to peddle the fiction about a “negotiated settlement” of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. The Zionist regime is not interested in peace; given its overwhelming firepower, blanket protection from international opprobrium by the US, and the pathetic nature of the Arabian regimes, the hapless Palestinians are left at the nonexistent mercies of the wicked Zionists.
This is even more graphically reflected in the plight of the tiny Gaza Strip aptly described as an “open air prison.” More than half the buildings destroyed during Israel’s murderous 2014 onslaught on the blockaded Gaza Strip are still awaiting reconstruction. Jamal al-Khudari, head of the Popular Committee Against Siege, said on August 13 that rebuilding Gaza had been hampered by severe restrictions on the entry of such materials as cement and steel. Israel has imposed a suffocating siege on the tiny enclave that is reinforced by the military regime in Egypt as well.
“The owners of thousands of destroyed houses are still living under exceptional circumstances and extreme suffering. Some are living in caravans and some in rented apartments away from their families, with no stability,” he said. Israel’s refusal to allow building material into Gaza is compounded by donor countries to come up with the funds they had pledged to rebuild Gaza. In March, the World Bank said only $1.409 billion, some 40% of the total pledged aid for Gaza’s reconstruction, had been received while donor countries had yet to deliver the remaining $3.507 billion.
A month later (April 2016), a survey by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) found that up to 75,000 Palestinians remained homeless in the blockaded coastal enclave that is home to 1.8 million inhabitants. Many families were living in shelter conditions. At least 80% of Gaza’s population is food deficient. Similarly, over 80% of the families in Gaza have borrowed money over the past year to survive, while 85% buy food on credit. As many as 40% of the families have decreased their consumption of food, the survey further said.
The Gaza siege imposed since June 2007 when the elected government led by Hamas took control has suffered greatly. The blockade has caused a decline in living standards as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty. Meanwhile Arabian regimes led by Saudi Arabia as well as Egypt and Jordan, far from helping the Palestinians are sucking up to the Zionists for protection. While Egypt and Jordan have diplomatic relations with the illegitimate Zionist entity, the Najdi Bedouins (aka Bani Saud) do not have formal diplomatic relations but that has not prevented them from kissing their cousins on both cheeks. In recent weeks and months, their interaction has intensified and become public. The shameless conduct of these rulers is directly responsible for the grave plight of the Palestinian people and the increasingly belligerent and arrogant attitude of the Zionists.