Palestine has been gaining global attention due to the tensions that has been happening ever since the start of Ramadan when Israeli police officers started preventing Palestinians from gathering during Ramadan nights. Shortly after that, the attention has shifted to the ethnic displacement targeting Palestinians of Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem.
As of this morning at 2:00 am, a ceasefire brokered by Egypt took effect.
Israel continued to pummel Palestine with rockets right up until the ceasefire took effect.
In the past, Israel has broken ceasefire agreements within a few days, so people are naturally skeptical.
Here’s a recap of what led to the mass aggression via by Israel, and how things got to this point — and where we go from here.
what is happening in Sheikh Jarrah
Shortly after removing the barricades on April 25, Israeli settlers dispossessed four Palestinian refugee families of their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. Palestinians have been protesting since April 28th in Sheikh Jarrah. However, this wasn’t the first time.
Along with his sister, Mohammed El-Kurd is one of the Palestinians who have been forced to leave their houses in Sheikh Jarrah this May. If anything, El-Kurd has lost to the Israeli settlers the adjacent house in 2009 that his father built nine years earlier.
“My father built this house in 2000, and an Israeli judge closed it for 9 years. We paid a fine of $25 thousand. Then, on November 3, settlers entered the house, and moved in on December 1,” El-Kurd said in 2011. “How can it be that we couldn’t live there because we didn’t have a permit, while settlers can without having one?”
The Israeli Movement Peace Now issued a report in May 2016 revealing that the Israel was helping Israeli settlers to “create an irreversible reality” of Judaization of East Jerusalem — such forced displacement is prohibited under international laws.
Jordan authorities approved the ownership of Palestinians, adding that it built those houses built for Palestinian families in 1956 during its administration of the area under the approval of UN agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).
Israeli settlers used false documents in 1982 when demanding the Israeli court to dispossess Palestinians of their homes in Sheikh Jarrah.
ISRAEL FIRING GRENADES ON AL AQSA MOSQUE
Israeli forces started firing stun grenades at Palestinians praying in the courtyards of Al Aqsa Mosque on May 7th.
The Israeli attacks carried on the next day as 90 thousand Palestinians gathered to pray during the nighttime in Al Aqsa Mosque for Laylat Al Qadr. Israeli forces fired stun and smoke grenades at Palestinians inside the mosque.
On May 10th, Israeli forces, once again, fired tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets at Palestinians and attacked them outside the Al Aqsa Mosque, violently attacking a Palestinian young man. The IDF also fired smoke and stun grenades at Palestinians praying inside, including firing inside the women’s prayer area, as Israelis celebrated the anniversary of illegally capturing Jerusalem.
Nathan Thrall, a New York Times contributor and the author of The Only Language They Understand, tweeted about the Jewish celebration as the fire was mounting high, “Days after conquering the Old City of Jerusalem in 1967, Israel razed one of its Palestinian neighborhoods and transformed it into the Western Wall plaza.” “On Jerusalem Day in 2021, Israelis celebrated in that occupied plaza as a fire blazed in the al-Aqsa mosque compound above,” he continued.
Yair Wallach, a senior lecturer in Israeli Studies in SOAS University of London, translated in a tweet the lyrics of Israelis’ chants: “I am sharing this, reluctantly, to point to the song they’re singing. It’s a Kahanist revenge song, words from the biblical story of Samson: ‘O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes’ (Yimach Shemam, may their name be effaced, the youths chant).”
THE SITUATION IN GAZA
Israel bombed Gaza for approximately two weeks in a row, killing over 230 Palestinians, including 65 children, since May 10. Israel has also been targeting residential houses, refugee camps, media agencies, offices and factories, and hospitals, killing Palestinian medical staff. This includes the only COVID-19 testing facility in Gaza, and the doctor who was in charge of their COVID-19 response.
Palestine’s Ministry of Information said that over a thousand residential units have been bombed until now, along with 36 schools and healthcare clinics — even with COVID-19 cases are dramatically surging among Palestinians in Gaza. Over 90,000 Palestinians are now displaced.
In its Daily Press briefing, the UN revealed that they “continue to receive reports of significant displacement of Palestinians….seeking protection in 48 schools run by UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees) across the Gaza Strip.”
Israel has bombarded the headquarters of Qatar Red Crescent in Gaza, killing two Palestinians and injuring 10. The Qatar Red Crescent has condemned the attack in a tweet and emphasized the need to allow relief groups to work under international law.
Israel has also refused to open the UNRWA’s humanitarian corridors that would enable them to move between their installations to “bring material” during the attacks close to them.
“We have more than 41,000 people in 50 schools, so it would be of great concern if any of these installations were directly hit,” UNRWA Director Matthias Schmale told Al Jazeera.
COUNTRIES INTERVENING TO HELP
Egyptian authorities announced on May 14 that they would open Rafah border crossing as of the next day to send Palestinians injured in the Israeli attacks to treat them in hospitals in North Sinai, allocating 165 ambulances and 11 hospitals.
The Secretary General of the Egyptian Doctors Syndicate Osama Abdel Hay told Mada Masr newspaper that Egypt sent a total of a thousand 800 doctors who have volunteered to travel to Gaza and Sinai to help treat those injured in Gaza.
Egypt sent a delegation earlier to Hamas and Israeli officials in Tel Aviv, proposing a one-year truce between Israel and Palestine on a condition that it would be monitored and coordinated by Cairo. However, Israeli officials rejected the delegation.
It was Egypt who ultimately brokered the ceasefire that went into effect this morning at 2 am.
Thousands of Jordanians held a protest, organized over Facebook, near the Jordanian border with the occupied Palestinian territories, chanting and shouting, Some chanted “Open the borders,” and “We are ready to die as martyrs for Jerusalem.”
Some, if not many, of these Jordanians were actually demanding a right to return to their own land, as many Palestinians have been living as refugees in Jordan.
Facebook, however, in an attempt to stop any kind of pro-Palestine activism, has banned the group called “Yalla to the Borders” over which Jordanians could organize their protests.
Jordan’s Interior Minister said that Israel handed over two Jordanian protesters who crossed the border to Israel during the protest.
Protests in Lebanon has also flared up in which Lebanese civilians and Palestinian refugees, who were displaced from their homes in the Palestinian territories that Israel has occupied, marched to the border while waving Palestinian flags and banners.
There has been an ongoing debate over the missiles that have been launched toward Israeli settlements from Lebanon after the Israeli bombardments of Gaza when Lebanon “is neither a military base nor a missile platform for Palestinian factions or Iranian militias.”
Lebanon’s MP Bilal Abdallah, however, said, “Lebanon is facing an economic collapse and a vacuum in its political power, and the Palestine issue should not be put at the forefront.”
THE UNITED STATES
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday the U.S. would help if the two parties signal interest in reaching a ceasefire, “but that the U.S. wasn’t demanding that they do so,” According to AP News.
The Biden administration has also approved the sale of $735 million in precision-guided weapons to Israel — during a time when Palestinians are the actually ones who need help.
Earlier President Biden gave legitimacy to Israeli attacks on Palestinians when he told the ABC News White House Correspondent Karen Travers, “Israel has the right to defend itself.”
THE ISRAELI STANCE
Despite the efforts of many countries trying to act as a mediator to reach a ceasefire and put an end to the Israeli attacks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement, “We are acting now, for as long as necessary, to restore calm.” He continued, “Our campaign against the terrorist organizations is continuing with full force.”
Israel said earlier that it was massing its troops for a possible ground invasion of Gaza.
CELEBRITIES’ ONLINE ACTIVISM AND PROTESTS SUPPORTING PALESTINE
Right after celebrities started voicing their support for Palestine on their social platforms, on-ground protests have been taking place to bring about change and pressure their countries to stand with Palestine.
Israel’s Twitter account disparaged Bella Hadid, a Palestinian-American herself, for expressing her concerns through a pro-Palestine protest, accusing her of advocating for “throwing Jews in the sea,” and “elimination of the Jewish State.”
MEDIA BIAS AND MISINFORMATION
Several Palestinians have been wondering why they had to break down the whole situation in Palestine so that others would understand that it’s the Palestinians who are oppressed, and not Israelis — here’s why: Because of the language used, and the misinformation spread, in mainstream media supporting Israel.
An excerpt from a news story by the New York Times is an example of how publications use passive voice as a euphemism when they talk about crimes committed by Israel, but use an active voice to stress the fact that Hamas is the one committing crimes. Take a look at the difference in connotations: “By the end of the day Monday, Hamas […] had fired rockets at Jerusalem […] Israeli airstrikes left at least 20 Palestinians […] dead.”
In an attempt to prove a case that Palestinians are terrorists and “Jihadists” coordinating with a terrorist organization, USA Today said, “Palestinians placed a Hamas flag on the mosque,” showing a pic of Palestinians simply placing the regular green Islamic flag that literally any Muslim can use because, in reality, it is not even affiliated to any kind of organization. However, they decided to add that unnecessary point to prove a specific case that Palestinians are the oppressors in the sense that they are using a flag which, stereotypically speaking, is a symbol of “terrorism.”
A ceasefire doesn’t mean that we cease our activism for Palestine, because Palestine still isn’t free and remains under brutal occupation. Gaza will still get limited electricity, it will continue under blockade and to be an open air prison, with its people having no freedom of movement. The ceasefire doesn’t change that. So we urge you to continue amplifying Palestinian voices, continue educating and advocating, continue direct action such as BDS, direct giving through donations, and contacting your legislators and lawmakers to demand changes in policy positions on Palestine. Plan your next protest now. We won’t stop until Palestine is free, inshallah!
What can i do to help?
- Contact your members of parliament or government. If you’re in the United States, you can urge your representatives to support a bill in support of Palestine here. If you’re in the UK, write to your MP here.
- Donate to reputable organizations.
- Break the silence — talk to your friends and family members about what’s going on.
- Attend protests in your area. Here’s an ongoing list.
- Amplify Palestinian voices, including books by Palestinian authors.
- BDS! Here’s what it is and a list of companies to boycott.