53 people have been killed, including 14 children with more than 300 people wounded as the bombing continues on the Hamas ruled Gaza by Israeli fighter jets, targeting sites belonging to Palestinian armed groups, as well as police buildings. Hamas said it had fired over 130 rockets towards Tel Aviv on Tuesday night leading to 3 Israel casualty The violence has been escalating every day in one of the holiest weeks in the Islamic Calendar, how did it all happen?
As we speak, an explosive land dispute is fought both in the Israeli Supreme Court and on the streets of an East Jerusalem neighborhood. Both Israelis and Palestinians are bracing for a surge in violence not seen in years.
Mounted Israeli police shooting rubber bullets at stone-throwing Palestinian demonstrators are resurfacing old scenes in the mostly Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, where Israelis demand ownership of land on which mostly refugee Palestinian families have lived for decades. Approximately 70 Palestinians are being displaced by Israeli settlers who want to name the area Nahalat Shimon.
History of Isreal- Palestine Conflict
Despite the fact that both Jews and Arab Muslims have claimed the land for thousands of years, the current political dispute started in the early twentieth century. Jews fled persecution in Europe desired to create a national homeland in the Ottoman and later British Empire, which was dominated by Arabs and Muslims at the time. The Arabs stood firm in their belief that the land was rightfully theirs.
The United Nations voted in 1947 to divide Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states. Jerusalem was designated to be an international city. The proposal was approved by Jewish leaders, but it was rejected by Arab leaders and never put into action. Since the British rulers were unable to solve the issue, they left in 1948. Jewish leaders proclaimed the establishment of the state of Israel. Many Palestinians protested, and the result was a battle.
Israel occupied the majority of the territory by the time the war ended in a truce the following year. Jordan took control of the West Bank, while Egypt took control of Gaza. Israeli forces in the west and Jordanian forces in the east fought for control of Jerusalem. There were more conflicts and fighting because there was never a peace deal - each side blamed the other.
Israel views Jerusalem as a "unified, everlasting" capital. In the 1967 Mideast war, it took control of east Jerusalem, including the Old City. The West Bank and Gaza strip were also taken into its control. Palestinians want those areas to form the basis of their future state, with East Jerusalem as its capital. However, Israel annexed the city's eastern half in a move that was not recognized internationally.
What is happening in Jerusalem?
Over the past 100 years, Jerusalem has been the site of violent clashes between Jews and Arabs. It remains to be one of the world's most hotly contested cities. For weeks, Palestinian demonstrators and the Israeli police have clashed regularly in and around Jerusalem's Old City. It is home to major holy sites sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims and serves as the emotional epicenter of the Middle East conflict.
Tensions between Israel and Palestinians in East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank are frequently high. Gaza is ruled by Hamas, a Palestinian militant group that has fought Israel numerous times. Israel and Egypt maintain tight control over Gaza's borders in order to prevent arms from reaching Hamas. Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank say Israeli acts and restrictions are causing them pain. Israel claims it is only acting in self-defense against Palestinian aggression.
The most recent disturbances started a month ago when Israeli forces moved to prevent some Palestinian gatherings at the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which is already fraught with religious tensions. Tensions over a plan to expel thousands of Palestinians from an east Jerusalem neighborhood remained high after the restrictions were lifted.
Following the resumption of regular Ramadan clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police in Jerusalem, Palestinian rebels in Gaza fired hundreds of rockets into Israel on Saturday, triggering retaliatory airstrikes, according to the Israeli military.
During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Jerusalem has been higher than normal. On Thursday, the protests became violent, resulting in several arrests and injuries.
Sheikh Jarrah expulsions
The Israeli court in October 2020 ruled against the 4 Palestinian families and asked them to vacate their homes by May 2. Even though the court has postponed this date since then, anger has been growing in Palestine families who see this as planned and forced expulsions by the Israeli pro-settler organizations.
Dozens of similar court cases have been filed against Palestinian families living in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah since 1972. The Israeli settlers claim that land was originally theirs but Palestinians believe this is a start to retain a majority Jewish identity in the city of Jerusalem.
Karm al-Jaouni Area in Sheikh Jarrah
In 1956, displaced Palestinian refugee families eventually started setting in the Karm al-Jaouni area in Sheikh Jarrah.
The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, at the time, came under Jordan's mandate. In an agreement with the UN agency for refugees (UNRWA), housing units for these families were built. The deal specified, to repudiate the refugee status in return for land deeds signed in their names after three years of living in the area, however that did not take place, and eventually Jordan lost its mandate to Israel in 1967.
Jordan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chargé d’Affaires said that 14 official documents related to building the housing units in Sheikh Jarrah have been given to Palestinian Authority. The document shows agreement between the development ministry and UN agency for refugees (UNRWA), to build 28 housing units for Palestinian refugee families.
Recent Isreal-Palestine Violence
May 6, 2021
On May 6, Palestinians and Israeli settlers clashed for the first time, which was broken up by Israeli police, who detained at least seven people. At the Al-Aqsa Mosque, there were further clashes. 136 people were injured across Jerusalem that evening, according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society, and six police officers were also injured, according to the Israeli government. The clashes on Monday took place in and around the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City. The mosque, which sits on a sprawling plateau that also houses the famed golden Dome of the Rock, is Islam's third holiest site. The compound is known among Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.
May 8, 2021
On the 8th of May, the Islamic holy night of Laylat al-Qadr, there were further clashes. While raising Hamas flags, Palestinian crowds hurled stones, lit fires, and chanted "Strike Tel Aviv" and "Jews, remember Khaybar, the army of Muhammad is returning." Stun grenades and water cannons were used by Israeli police sporting riot gear and some on horseback. At least 80 people were injured in the incident.
May 9, 2021
Israeli forces raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the morning of May 9th. Palestinians hurled bricks, firecrackers, and other large items at Israeli police, who responded with stun grenades and rubber bullets. The rioting occurred just before a Jewish nationalist flag marches through the Old City in honor of Jerusalem Day. At least 215 Palestinians were wounded, with 153 of them being taken to the hospital. Militants in Gaza fired rockets into Israel during the night.
Jerusalem Day is a national holiday commemorating the annexation. Thousands of Israelis, mostly religious nationalists, march through the Old City in recent years, including the densely populated Muslim Quarter, in a show seen by many Palestinians as offensive and inflammatory.
May 10, 2021
Hamas launched more than 150 rockets into Israel from Gaza on May 10th. Seven rockets were fired toward Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh, according to the Israeli authorities, with one being intercepted. Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system has successfully intercepted rockets launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, and no casualty has been reported. On May 10, 2021, Israel conducted airstrikes in Gaza. There were 24 Palestinians killed, nine of whom were children, and 103 others injured.
Human Rights Issues
Israeli forces continued to use excessive force during law enforcement activities in Israel and the OPT(Occupied Palestinian Territories). Israeli forces killed 31 Palestinians, including nine children, in the OPT; many were unlawfully killed while posing no imminent threat to life. Israel maintained its illegal blockade on the Gaza Strip, subjecting its residents to collective punishment and deepening the humanitarian crisis there. It also continued to restrict the freedom of movement of Palestinians in the OPT through checkpoints and roadblocks.
During law enforcement operations in Israel and the OPT, Israeli forces tended to use disproportionate force. In the OPT, Israeli forces killed 31 Palestinians, including nine children; several were killed indiscriminately while posing no immediate threat to life. Israel's illegal blockade of Gaza continued, subjecting its citizens to collective retaliation and exacerbating the humanitarian crisis there. Human rights defenders, journalists, and others who protested Israel's continued occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Syrian Golan Heights were targeted by the authorities.
There are many topics on which Israel and the Palestinians are at odds. These include questions such as what should happen to Palestinian refugees, whether Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank should remain or be withdrawn, whether the two sides should share Jerusalem, and, perhaps most importantly, whether a Palestinian state should be established alongside Israel. Peace negotiations have been held on and off for more than 25 years, but the dispute has yet to be resolved.
The most recent peace agreement, drafted by the USA, when Donald Trump was President and dubbed "the deal of the century" by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was mocked by Palestinians as one-sided and never got off the ground. Any future peace deal will need both sides to agree to resolve complex issues regarding the Isreal- Palestine conflict.