From Palestine Chronicle
A teen raising the flag of Palestine in Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound.
(Image by (Photo: Quds Press, file)) Permission Details DMCA
Neither Fatah nor Hamas have been of much relevance to the mass protests staged around Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem. Neither have American pressure, half-hearted European "concern about the situation" or cliche' Arab declarations made one iota of difference. United Nations officials warned of the grim scenarios of escalation, but their statements were mere words.
The spontaneous mass movement in Jerusalem, which eventually defeated Israeli plans to change the status of Al-Aqsa was purely a people's movement. Despite the hefty price of several dead and hundreds wounded, it challenged both the Israeli government and the quisling Palestinian leadership.
Israel shut down Al-Aqsa compound on July 14, following a shootout between three armed Palestinians and Israeli occupation officers. The compound was reopened a few days later, but Palestinian worshipers refused to enter, as massive security installation, gates, cameras and metal detectors were installed.
The people of Jerusalem immediately understood the implication of the Israeli action. In the name of added security measures, the Israeli government was exploiting the situation to change the status of Al-Aqsa, as part of its efforts to further isolate Palestinians and Judaize the illegally occupied city.
The Israeli army occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem in 1967, annexing it in 1981 in defiance of international law and despite strong UN objection.
For 50 years, Jerusalem has endured daily battles. The Israelis fought to expand their influence in the city, increase the number of illegal Jewish settlers and cut off Jerusalem from the rest of the Palestinian Territories; while Palestinians, Muslim and Christians alike, fought back.
Al-Aqsa compound -- also known as Haram Al-Sharif or the Noble Sanctuary -- is the most symbolic element in the fight. It is a microcosm of the fate of the occupied city, in fact the fate of the entire Palestinian land.
The compound has been administered by Islamic Waqf, through an Israeli-Jordanian understanding. Many Israeli politicians in the Likud Party and the Netanyahu-led rightwing government coalition have tried to change this.
Palestinians understand that the fate of their mosque and the future of their city are tightly linked. For them, if Al-Aqsa is lost, then Jerusalem is truly conquered.
This fight, between Palestinian worshipers and the Israeli army happens every single day, usually escalating on Friday. It is on this holy day for Muslims that tens of thousands of faithful flock to Al-Aqsa to pray, oftentimes to be met by new military gates and army regulations. Young Palestinians, in particular, have been blocked from reaching Al-Aqsa, also in the name of security.
But the struggle for Jerusalem can rarely be expressed in numbers, death toll and televised reports. It is the ordinary Palestinians' constant fight for space, for identity and to preserve the sanctity of their holy land.
In the last two years, the fight escalated further as Israel began expanding its illegal settlements in East Jerusalem and rightwing parties issued a series of laws targeting Palestinians in the city. One such law is the call for prayer law, aimed at preventing mosques from making the call for prayers at dawn, as has been the practice for a millennium.
Palestinian youth, many born after the failed Oslo Accords, are fed up as the Israeli military controls every aspect of their lives and their corrupt leadership grows more irrelevant and self-serving.
This frustration has been expressed in numerous ways: in non-violent resistance, new political ideas, in art, music, on social media, but also through individual acts of violent resistance.