Photo credit: Ammar Awad
Date taken: November 6, 2014
Location: Jerusalem, Palestine
Palestinian youth take cover behind doors during clashes with Israeli soldiers and police in Jerusalem. Tensions in the Holy City have risen dramatically after Israeli authorities closed the Aqsa Mosque compound to Palestinians for the first time in over a decade. Most recently, the Israeli government has announced plans to demolish the homes of Palestinians responsible for the hostilities.
Clashes between protesting Palestinians and gun-wielding Israeli forces are not unique to Jerusalem, and they certainly aren’t new, although recent news coverage of the situation suggests that this is merely another flare-up.
Israel’s longstanding military control over the city has severely restricted Palestinian access to their religious shrines and to many of the surrounding cities and districts. Additionally, Palestinians caught protesting are normally forced to face administrative detention without charge or the possibility of losing their residency rights in the city. These restrictions are not placed on the Jewish Israeli settlers who are being encouraged by right-wing leaders to uproot Palestinians from their homes and “reclaim” the entire city.
In the last few weeks, Israeli efforts to overrun Jerusalem and to give settlers unrestricted access to all parts of the city have been globally characterized as further incitement. The Israeli government closed down the Aqsa Mosque compound and even fired smoke bombs and ammunition into the mosque itself, causing extensive damage and destroying Muslim holy books. In that same time span, at least two Palestinian men responded with two separate hit-and-run attacks.
In response to the clashes, Israel has reinstated a punitive measure to demolish the homes of Palestinians it believes is responsible for the hostilities. The policy had been discontinued in 2005 after the heavy-handed approach turned out to cause further problems. Aside from the fact that this law violates human rights law, there appears to be little aside from precedent that guides the policy, meaning that Palestinian homes can be demolished arbitrarily. And considering the efforts of right-wing Israeli leaders to take ownership of all of Jerusalem, these home demolitions might feed into a greater plan to open up new real estate opportunities limited only to settlers.