JERUSALEM – As I write these words, the Mufti of Jerusalem has just announced that the holy month of Ramadan will begin on April 2, 2022. I want to wish all of my Muslim brothers and sisters throughout the world, Ramadan Karim.
Sadly, as Muslims around the world decorate their cities, towns, and neighborhoods for the holiday, in Palestine grief is everywhere. Parents, siblings, family members, and neighbors mourn the latest casualties of Israeli violence. Countless Palestinians are joining their brothers and sisters in Israeli prisons – tortured, denied the right to a defense – and in Palestinian hospitals helpless in trying to treat the injured.
I will never forget the first time I saw the walls and alleys of the Old City of Jerusalem decorated for Ramadan. The celebrations, once the fast was over, included food and music, and families were out all night enjoying it all.
Equally memorable, yet sad, were the years 2014 and 2021, when the month of Ramadan was filled with violence and fear: while the walls and alleyways of the Old City were decorated, violence reigned. People stayed home with their doors locked, and Jerusalem was empty after sundown. Fears are mounting that this year’s Ramadan could resemble that of last year.
The arrogance of an apartheid regime
There is one point on which I would argue that the recent Amnesty International Report on Palestine was inaccurate. The report claims that the State of Israel is committing the crime of apartheid, whereby I would argue that the State of Israel is in and of itself the crime of apartheid. Israel is a regime of apartheid that has taken over Palestine violently and established itself through violence.
Now, over seven decades after its establishment in Palestine, we know that the arrogance of the Israeli apartheid regime is equal only to its brutality. Now that Palestinians are once again taking the fight into 1948 Palestine, or what some call “Israel proper,” Israeli authorities are quick to delegitimize Palestinian claims for liberty and justice and label Palestinian resistance as “terrorism.” Furthermore, Israel has declared its intentions to deploy more forces and bring more violence into a country already steeped in Palestinian blood.
Taking the fight into “Israel proper”
As Palestinians take the fight into the 1948 territories, (aka “Israel Proper”), Israel is deploying more forces, calling in military and police reserves, and even calling on Israeli Jewish citizens to take up arms. Israeli news outlet Ynet reports that “All in all, an extra 12 battalions will be deployed to run routine security operations” including military units patrolling Israeli cities. The Israeli government has also committed over 180 million Shekels ($60 million) to strengthen the Israeli police force. While the Israeli army, the IDF, operates in the West Bank and Gaza, it is the police and the border police – or Mishmar Hagvul, a militarized section of the Israeli police – that operate in Palestinian areas within the 1948 territories.
All of this is in addition to vigilantes and civilian militias already present in the Naqab and other parts of the country. These groups are taking the law into their own hands with the full support of the Israeli authorities, perpetrating violent attacks against Palestinians.
The use of the term “Arab terrorism” by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in a March 29 tweet, as well as the call for Jewish citizens to take up arms, is no less than an incitement to kill Palestinians anywhere and anytime an Israeli Jewish citizen sees fit.
Bennett clearly stated on Twitter:
[C]ivilians, police, and military who are licensed to carry arms, are the ones who over the years managed to stop terrorist attacks. While the Shabak, IDF, and police do foil attacks successfully they are not always able to do so. Therefore, citizens’ responsibility is of great importance.”
According to Ynet, “…Bennett on Wednesday evening told Israelis who have a license for a firearm, ‘this is the time to carry a weapon,’ as the country faces its worst spate of terrorist attacks in years.”
One could almost forget that Israel possesses enormous military power and that Palestinians have none.
Not ISIS, but Palestinian resistance
Israel claimed that the attacks that took place in the occupied city of Bi’r El-saba in the Naqab and in the city of Hadera were executed by Palestinians with connections to Daesh, or ISIS. One has to wonder why authorities would make such an absurd claim when it could not be farther from the truth. The reason for those attacks, as well as the ones that are sure to follow, is the ongoing oppression faced by Palestinians. Palestinians are fighting against the brutal regime of apartheid and the indiscriminate killing of their loved ones.
Admitting that Palestinians are reacting to Israeli violence and abuse is not acceptable to Israel, because it raises doubts as to the absolute legitimacy of Israel. Zionists’ claims always give Israel and Israeli actions absolute legitimacy, and allowing even the smallest recognition of the right of Palestinians to resist is a dangerous and slippery slope for Israel, so anything Palestinians do must be called terrorism. According to Israel, Palestinians act only with antisemitic or radical intent. No recognition is ever given to the fact that Palestinians have legitimate reasons for resisting the crimes against humanity to which they have been subjected for over seven decades.
A summit with Arab ministers
Even as Israeli violence and abuse of Palestinians increases, and worshippers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque are in danger of further assaults by Israeli settlers and police, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid was able to pull together a summit with Arab foreign ministers.
This summit included the foreign ministers of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, and Bahrain, as well as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (it was reported that the foreign minister of Jordan would have been there but was missing because he was in Ramallah along with King Abdullah of Jordan).
The summit was held in the settlement of Sde Boker, in the occupied Naqab, where Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, is buried. According to Ynet:
At the current Negev Summit, Israel is no longer a guest or an observer. It is now a major player, and its acceptance in the regional club no longer depends on the approval of Americans. On the contrary, the Americans are Israel’s guests now.
According to the Jerusalem Post:
This week’s Negev Summit was the Abraham Accords put into action. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid worked with his counterparts from Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates on addressing their shared challenges and interests, along with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, representing America’s encouragement and support.
How Ramadan of 2022 – or 1443, according to the Islamic Hijri calendar – will be remembered is not clear, but every effort should be made to save Palestinian lives, protect Al-Aqsa, and free Palestine.
Feature photo | Israeli police detain a man after Israeli security forces attacked a group of worshippers next to Damascus Gate, outside the Old City of Jerusalem, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, April 4, 2022. Mahmoud Illean | AP
Miko Peled is MintPress News contributing writer, published author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. His latest books are”The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”