On Friday July 14, three Palestinian men killed two Israeli officers stationed at the Haram al-Sharif compound, which includes – aside from the Al-Aqsa Mosque – the famed Dome of the Rock and other Palestinian Muslim sites, revered by Muslims. Mohammed Ahmed Jabareen, 29, Mohammed Hamed Abd Al-Latif Jabareen, 19, and Mohammed Ahmed Mafdal Jabareen, 19, were immediately killed by occupation soldiers.
On the day of the attack, several Palestinians were killed in various parts of the West Bank and a 3-year-old child from Gaza died while awaiting a permit to cross from the besieged region to the West Bank for treatment.
None of this registered in international media. The armed Palestinian attack on Israeli soldiers, however, made headlines around the world.
This is the first time that an attack of this nature has been recorded inside the Al-Aqsa compound. Since 1967, only Israelis have used arms in violent clashes with Palestinians. Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed in or around this holy shrine throughout the years.
For Palestinians – Muslims and Christians alike – Al-Aqsa took on a new meaning following the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967. Scenes of Israeli soldiers raising the Israeli flag over Muslim and Christian shrines in the city fifty years ago, is burnt into the collective memory of several generations.
Israeli design in East Jerusalem, however, is far greater than Al-Aqsa itself. Last April, the Israeli government announced plans to build 15 000 new housing units in East Jerusalem, contrary to international law.
The international community recognizes East Jerusalem as a Palestinian city. The United States, too, accepts international consensus on Jerusalem, and attempts by the US Congress to challenge the White House on this understanding have all failed. That is, until Donald Trump came to power.
Prior to his inauguration in January, Trump had promised to relocate the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. While the US embassy is yet to officially move to Jerusalem, the new administration is sending a message that it is no longer bound by international law with regard to the Occupied Territories. It is sending a clear signal to Israel that there can be no pressure on Israel regarding the status of Jerusalem.
In response, the United Nations and its various institutions have moved quickly to reassure Palestinians.
The UN cultural agency, UNESCO, has been the most active in this regard. Despite US-Israeli pressure, several resolutions have been passed by UNESCO and the UN General Assembly in recent months, which have reaffirmed Palestinian rights in the city.
Israel and the US moved to punish Palestinians for UNESCO’s decisions.
It began when the Israeli Knesset began pushing laws that make life even more difficult for Palestinian Jerusalemites, including a law that limits the Muslim call for prayer. The law, which passed its second reading last March, was championed by Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
The political upheaval has translated on the ground to more violence, as thousands of Israeli occupation soldiers and police were rushed to the city to restrict Palestinian movement and to block thousands of worshippers from reaching Al-Aqsa. Hundreds were detained in a massive security campaign.
Israeli police expanded the ever-growing list of Palestinians who are not allowed to reach their houses of worship. Palestinians resisted by constantly attempting to reach Al-Aqsa or demonstrating in protest. Others, like the Jabareen’s, reached their breaking point.
In the absence of a strong leadership, Palestinians are growing increasingly desperate and angry. The Palestinian Authority is largely busy in its own pitiful power struggles and appears to have no time for Palestinians, who are left with little hope for a political horizon and no clear sense of direction.
Last June in Jerusalem, speaking to a crowd celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Israeli military occupation of the city, Israeli Prime Minister, Netanyahu declared that the al-Aqsa Mosque compound would “forever remain under Israeli sovereignty.”
Empowered by the Trump administration, Netanyahu feels that his dream of subduing East Jerusalem is being realised. The price of Netanyahu’s dream, however, is likely to be costly.
More violence is likely to follow. Palestinians, who are dying without much media coverage, are desperate and angry as their holy city is crumbling under the heavy boots of soldiers, amid international silence and unconditional US support for the Israeli government.
Dr. Ramzy Baroud is an internationally-syndicated columnist, author, and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com.