This year, like most years, the month-long Muslim fast of Ramadan has been marked by extreme violence, most notably, though not limited to, Israel’s capital of Jerusalem.
Violence in Jerusalem
Dubbed the TikTok Intifada, the violence began last month when young Arabs began attacking Israelis, especially targeting the visibly religious, and posting videos of the attacks on the popular app.
Western media has also blamed the violence on a right-wing Israel protest on April 22 that the police shut down before it arrived in the Old City, where the Arabs were already rioting.
The violence spread amidst inaccurate Arab claims that the Israeli government was restricting Muslim access to the Temple Mount when, in fact, Israeli police were enacting measures to manage foot traffic by placing barricades in front of the square leading to the Damascus Gate, a procedure that has been practiced for over a decade. The police responded by removing the barricades, leading to increased violence.
Arab leaders inciting violence
Arab leadership has universally encouraged the violence. Hamas and the Palestinian Authority see the violence as distracting attention from the elections which PA President Mahmoud Abbas delayed, blaming the Israeli government, a claim Western anti-Israel media was quick to parrot despite the PA preventing elections for the past 15 years with no excuses ever offered. Experts deem that Abbas’ true motivation for the delay to be his concern that Hamas will win at the ballots.
According to Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), in the days leading up to Ramadan, from April 2 through April 10, state-run official Palestinian Authority TV broadcast a terror-promoting song and accompanying visuals of violence dozens of times. Focusing on influencing the youth, P.A. TV also broadcast the song during the 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. time slot for children’s programming. The song included violent incitement, with lines like “My brother, throw my blood on the enemy like bullets.”
Rockets from Gaza
The violence in Jerusalem is accompanied by rocket fire from Gaza. Three weeks ago, three dozen rockets were fired into Israel. The rockets continued at a slower pace with yet another being fired on Sunday night.
Terrorist attacks are also on the rise. Last week, three 19-year old Israeli men were shot in an Arab terrorist attack at a bus stop at Tapuach Junction in Samaria and Yehuda Guetta succumbed to his wounds. On Wednesday, an Arab terrorist was shot and killed while throwing firebombs at IDF troops. On Friday, three Arabs staged an attack, opening fire with submachine guns on the Salem IDF base in Samaria. No IDF personnel were injured and two of the terrorists were killed. Also on Friday, an Arab attempted to carry out a stabbing attack in Hebron.
Incendiary balloon attacks from Gaza resumed, sparking at least ten fires in southern Israel over the weekend as riots broke out along the border security fence.
Ramadan violence and Hamas on the Temple Mount
The violence reached a peak on Friday, the last Muslim sabbath of Ramadan, as 90,000 Muslims ascended the Temple Mount and riots broke out with chants of “Bomb, Bomb Tel Aviv.”
Hamas flags were prominently displayed. “We are all Hamas, waiting for your orders commander Mohammed Deif. Hamas — shoot a rocket at Tel Aviv tonight,” they were quoted as chanting by Channel 13 News, referring to the head of the terror movement’s armed wing.
Dozens of cops ascended to the site and were pelted with stones and fireworks as they used crowd control measures to disperse the riots. At least 205 Arabs and 17 policemen were wounded. Border Police officers closed off Damascus Gate in the Old City in an attempt to regain control of the situation and to prevent more people from joining the riots.
Shortly after midnight on Saturday, the Western Wall complex was evacuated as rioters on the Temple Mount threw rocks and launched fireworks at the Jewish worshipers below.
Prime Minister Netanyahu stated that Israel would be working “to ensure law and order in Jerusalem while maintaining freedom of worship at the holy sites.”
Shimon the righteous and Jewish-owned houses
The most recent wave of Arab violence has been blamed on an impending case in the Israeli Supreme Court over the ownership of about 200 houses in Jerusalem with about 70 being in the neighborhood surrounding the Tomb of Shimon Hatzaddik, a Kohen Gadol (High Priest) during the Second Temple period. The site is popular with Jewish pilgrims and is graphic evidence of the Jewish connection to the area dating back to the third century BCE. The neighborhood is also known as the Sheikh Jarrah due to an Ottoman physician who was buried there in the 13th century. The current legal dispute is over several houses that were purchased by Jews in the 19th century but were occupied by Arabs who refused to pay rent or exit the residences. The Supreme Court is supposed to announce its decision on Monday.
Significantly, Monday is Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day), the 54th anniversary of the IDF victory in the 1967 Six-Day War which unified Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people.
UN and Democrats condemn Jews owning houses in Jerusalem
Israel’s foreign ministry said on Friday that the Palestinians were “presenting a real-estate dispute between private parties as a nationalist cause, in order to incite violence in Jerusalem.”
The United Nations condemned Israel over the court case. Rupert Colville, the spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, released a statement on Friday saying that any evictions, “if ordered and implemented, would violate Israel’s obligations under international law. We call on Israel to immediately halt all forced evictions, including those in Sheikh Jarrah, and to cease any activity that would further contribute to a coercive environment and lead to a risk of forcible transfer.”
The US State Department also came out against the Israeli Supreme Court ruling that Jews have a right to own land in Jerusalem. Jalina Porter, a State Department spokesperson, said during a telephone briefing: “We are deeply concerned about the potential eviction of Palestinian families in the Silwan neighborhood and in Sheikh Jarrah, many of whom have lived in their homes for generations.”
US Democrats came out strongly against Israel. “The United States must speak out strongly against the violence by government-allied Israeli extremists in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and make clear that the evictions of Palestinian families must not go forward,” Senator Bernie Sanders (Vermont-D) tweeted.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass-D) described the possible court-ordered evictions as “abhorrent and unacceptable.”
“The Administration should make clear to the Israeli government that these evictions are illegal and must stop immediately,” she said.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-D) called the possible evictions“inhumane”, tweeting: “Israeli forces are forcing families from their homes during Ramadan and inflicting violence.”