Reprinted from The National
For the past month Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has tried to rewrite the Bible story by declaring war on what he terms Palestinian "terrorism by stones."
There are echoes of Yitzhak Rabin's response nearly 30 years ago when, as defence minister, he ordered soldiers to "break bones" to stop a Palestinian uprising, often referred to as the "intifada of stones," against the Israeli occupation.
Terrified by the symbolism of women and children throwing stones at one of the world's strongest armies, Rabin hoped broken arms would deprive Palestinians of the power to wield their lowly weapon.
Now the West Bank and Jerusalem are on fire again, as Palestinian youths clash with the same oppressors. Reports suggest soldiers killed one Palestinian youth and injured more than 100 others on Sunday alone.
The touchpaper, as so often, is Israel's transgressions at Al Aqsa mosque compound, known as Haram Al Sharif, in Jerusalem's Old City. During the weeks of Israel's high holidays, tensions have risen sharply. Israeli government ministers and ever larger numbers of Jewish ultra-nationalists, backed by paramilitary forces, have been ascending to the mosque area.
In parallel, Palestinian access has been restricted and settlers have stepped up seizures of homes in occupied East Jerusalem to encircle Al Aqsa.
Palestinians believe Israel is asserting control over the site to change the status quo.
Israel refers to the Haram as the Temple Mount, because the ruins of two ancient Jewish temples supposedly lie underneath. As Israel has swung to the right politically and religiously, government and settler circles have been swept by an aggressive Jewish messianism.
Palestinian efforts to resist have been limited. Israel has long barred Palestinian factions and organizations from any dealings in the city it calls its "eternal capital."
Threats to Al Aqsa have come to symbolize the Palestinian story of dispossession.
The mosque has also served as a red line, both because it is a powerful cause that unites all Palestinians, including Christians and the secular, and because it rallies the wider Arab world to the Palestinians' side.
But like Goliath, the Israeli prime minister who appears to assume greater force will win.
First, he outlawed last month a group of Islamic students, many of them women, known as the Murabitoun, stationed at Al Aqsa. They had not even resorted to stones. Their crime was to try to deter Jewish extremists from praying at the site by crying "God is great."
Then, Israeli police stormed the compound to evict youths who had barricaded themselves in. Severe restrictions on access to Al Aqsa followed.
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