Since the start of Ramadan on April 13, the tensions have been escalating between the Palestinians and the Israeli police who closed off the Damascus Gate using barricades to stop their Ramadan evening gatherings in East Jerusalem.
Right-wing Israelis rallied on April 22 toward Damascus Gate, chanting “Death to Arabs.”
To justify the deliberate violence toward Palestinians, Israelis and right-wing politicians said that there had been “a video on TikTok” showing a Palestinian “slapping an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man.”
“The message is clear: After this terrible year with coronavirus and the closure of practically all the economic life of Arabs in the city, the illness, and death, came the holy month of Ramadan. Arab Jerusalemites traditionally come to the Gate after the dinner that ends the fast to meet, and spend time with friends and relatives with music, sweets,” a merchant in Jerusalem who requested not to be identified told Jerusalem Post. “Because of a few stupid teenagers the police deprived us of one of our few sources of joy, and people are surprised?” he continued.
The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Ekrima Sa’id Sabri accused Israeli officials of “exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to intervene in the affairs of the blessed Al Aqsa Mosque.”
Israeli officials said it was because COVID-19 “high morbidity rates” within Palestinian Authority areas that they had to restrict the entry of Palestinians from the West Bank to 10 thousand vaccinated Palestinians.
In 2015, 4 years before COVID-19, Israel canceled the entry permission for hundreds of Palestinians who wanted to pray during Ramadan in Al Aqsa Mosque.
During Ramadan of 2014, Israel stated that it was “training its missiles on Gaza’s homes because [they thought] Hamas and other militants” were hiding inside.
“We have received disturbing reports that many of the civilian casualties, including of children, occurred as a result of strikes on homes,” Ravina Shamdasani, a UN spokeswoman said. “Such reports raise doubts about whether the Israeli air strikes have been in accordance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law.”
During Ramadan of 2018, The Middle East Eye witnessed “dozens of unarmed Palestinians beaten and arrested” by Israeli security forces, and saw Israelis chanting “Burn them,” “shoot them,” “kill them.” If anything, this was believed to be the “bloodiest day since the 2014 war with Israel,” according to Gaza’s Ministry of Health.
In 2019, Gaza was under attack during the first day of Ramadan, killing more than 15 Palestinians, along with a pregnant mother and her 14-year-old daughter.
Earlier this April, Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a report, detailing the crimes of Apartheid and Persecution committed by Israeli Authorities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), made up of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.
“On the basis of its research, Human Rights Watch concludes that the Israeli government has demonstrated an intent to maintain the domination of Jewish Israelis over Palestinians across Israel and the OPT,” HRW said. “In the OPT, including East Jerusalem, that intent has been coupled with systematic oppression of Palestinians and inhumane acts committed against them. When these three elements occur together, they amount to the crime of apartheid,” HRW continued.
The UN human rights experts condemned Israeli settlers this April for their systematic violence against Palestinians…
This April 24, the U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Prince tweeted, “We are deeply concerned by the escalation of violence in Jerusalem. The rhetoric of extremist protestors chanting hateful and violent slogans must be firmly rejected,” Prince said. “We call for calm and unity, and urge authorities to ensure the safety, security, and rights of all in Jerusalem,” he continued.
The UN human rights experts condemned Israeli settlers this April for their systematic violence against Palestinians, stating that, as settlers, they are obliged by international laws, specifically Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, to protect the population under the occupation and not terrorize them.
“They primarily target the livelihoods of rural Palestinians, vandalizing livestock, agricultural lands, trees and homes,” experts said. “Besides the presence and expansion of Israeli settlements, which are intended to establish illegal claims for Israeli sovereignty, settler violence is meant to make the daily lives of Palestinians untenable,” they continued.
The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas blamed Israel’s regime days ago as it has led to the delay of the upcoming Palestinian elections, saying that the elections will remain postponed until “the participation of our people in Jerusalem is guaranteed.”
“Our people are excited for elections. There is enthusiasm… but what about Jerusalem? Where is Jerusalem?” Abbas said.
Israeli forces occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 war, and then started to annex it unilaterally, claiming its legal sovereignty over the territory, including Al Aqsa Mosque, and calling it their “indivisible capital” — even though such a claim is not recognized on an international level.
In 2016, the UNESCO released a resolution that showed that, based on votes from other countries, there was no relation whatsoever between Judaism, and Al Aqsa Mosque and Western Wall, Al Buraq, occupied in Jerusalem, and that the mosque and its courtyards “are only sacred to Muslims.”
On the other side of the narrative, a stampede broke out 2 days ago during the Jewish religious observance of Lag B’Omer, killing at least 45 people. President Biden released a statement this April 30, sending condolences to Israel.
“The loss of life among worshipers practicing their faith is heartbreaking,” President Biden said. “I have instructed my team to offer our assistance to the government and people of Israel as they respond to the disaster and care for the wounded,” he continued.
Likewise, Vice President Kamala Harris posted on Facebook, “Doug and I are heartbroken over the terrible tragedy at Mount Meron during Lag B’Omer. We stand with the people of Israel during this difficult time.”
In a statement released on April 7, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said that the U.S. was planning to “restart U.S. economic, development, and humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people” that would include “$75 million in economic and development assistance in the West Bank and Gaza, $10 million for peace-building programs through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and $150 million in humanitarian assistance for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).”
A week before that statement, Israel circulated some news about President Abbas’ refusal to hold a call with Blinken, saying that Abbas said he wanted to “talk directly to President Biden.” However, Prince refuted this news.
“We typically don’t read out conversations at the working level,” Prince told reporters asking about updates on the contact between the U.S. government and the Palestinian Authority. “Certainly, we are prepared to continue to engage the Palestinians, including Palestinian government officials, on ways we can provide assistance to the Palestinian people,” he continued.
Apparently, the U.S. is trying to remain on the fence over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. What’s even more apparent, however, is that Ramadan for Israelis means targeting Palestinians, and prevent them from practicing their religion during their holy month. It’s been a normalized systematic practice, and Israel has been let off for so long regardless of its chants of hate toward Palestinians, and its crimes and violations of international laws. If anything, the way they target the people of Palestine is not just about attacking them, and killing civilians, but also about waging a war against Palestine through the use of journalism in order to spark criticism against them, and serve the sly narrative they lay out to the western world that demonizes Palestinians, and degrades them from their basic fundamental rights. And because of that, Ramadan for Palestinians is unfortunately way too far from the Ramadan we would be anticipating, and enthusiastically waiting for.