Bennet follows in the footsteps of Netanyahu

July 18, 2021 - 21:18

TEHRAN – Israel’s government has changed, but Israeli oppressive and discriminatory policies against the Palestinians remained in place. This was on full display on Sunday morning when Israeli security forces attacked worshipers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque with rubber bullets and tear gas.

Israeli occupation forces, along with scores of Israeli settler fanatics, broke into the courtyards of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on early Sunday morning, attacking worshipers at the holy site and detaining many of them while firing tear gas canisters and stun grenades into the worshipers, Palestinian News and Info Agency (WAFA) reported. 

Early in the morning, dozens of Israeli police officers started raiding the holy site through the Chain and Moroccan gates, before they embarked on beating and assaulting the Muslim worshipers attending prayers at the holy site in an effort to make way for the entry of hundreds of Israeli settlers there, WAFA said. The police locked down the southern main building inside the holy site, and hundreds of worshipers were left inside and were unable to leave. Groups of Israeli settlers later broke into the courtyards after it was almost emptied of all Muslim worshipers by force. Israeli extremist groups have called on settlers to force their way into the Al-Aqsa complex in large numbers on July 18, on the occasion of the anniversary of what Israel calls “the destruction of the temple.”

A source in the Palestinian Islamic Waqf Council told Al Araby Al Jadeed newspaper that more than 420 Israeli settlers have participated in storming the third-holiest site in Islam. 

The first round of settlers' incursions into Al-Aqsa Mosque, which took place Sunday before noon, ended with the Israeli special forces protecting the fanatics. These special forces continue their attacks on worshipers in Al-Aqsa Mosque and its gates, as well as their siege of Old Jerusalem.

The Jerusalem Islamic Waqf Council warned of the repercussions of the Israeli occupation and its settlers’ violations against Al-Aqsa Mosque. In a statement on Sunday, the council confirmed that the violations and attacks against al-Aqsa were instigated by Jewish fanatic groups, with the support and political cover of the Israeli government. It stressed that the Israeli actions against the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which coincide with the Muslim holidays, reveal extremism and malice that aim at dragging the region into a religious war in which consequences cannot be contained, according to WAFA. 

The Palestinian presidency condemned Israel’s provocations and held it fully responsible for the escalation resulting from the Israeli incursion into the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex.

The presidency said attacks by Israeli occupation forces and settlers on Al-Aqsa Mosque and worshipers there are a grave danger to the stability and security of the region, and that these attacks provoke the sentiments of the Palestinian people.

“These Israeli provocations pose a challenge to the American demands that have called for preserving the historical status quo in Jerusalem,” the presidency said in a statement.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry also reacted to the Israeli violations of the basic rights to worship, calling on the international community to take a decisive stance against the ongoing Israeli aggression on the holy mosque. 

“This [Israeli] attack falls within the framework of an official Israeli decision to perpetuate the temporal division of the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque. It also comes within the framework of Israelization and Judaization of Jerusalem aimed at emptying the city of its Palestinian citizens,” the ministry said in a statement.

Palestinian officials have put Israel’s provocations into the broader context of Tel Aviv’s efforts to destabilize the region by cracking down on Palestinians and desecrating Muslim sanctities. Nabil Abu Rudeineh, the spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said Israel is tampering with the security and stability of the region and is dragging the region into a religious war that will burn the entire region.

“By continuing its policy of incursions into religious places, as is happening today in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Israel is defying the Palestinian people and disregarding international positions, especially the American position which demanded [Israel] to adhere to the status quo in Jerusalem,” Abu Rudeineh said.

Jordan also condemned Israel’s provocations at the al-Aqsa. Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Daifallah al-Fayez said the Israeli actions against the mosque represent a violation of the historical and legal status quo, international law, and Israel's obligations as an occupying power in East Jerusalem.

The European Union described the situation in Jerusalem as “explosive” and called for urgent actions to calm down it. “Acts of incitement have to be avoided and the status quo respected. Israeli authorities, religious and community leaders from all sides should act urgently to calm down this explosive situation,” it said in a statement. 

The Israeli aggression came after Israel formed a new government that has been widely touted as a diverse one. Naftali Bennet succeeded in forming a coalition of contradictory political factions to oust Benjamin Netanyahu. With the change of government, many observers harbored illusions about Israeli moderation. But moderation is a rarity in Israeli politics. Even the so-called moderates in Israel are nothing but hardliners compared to other politicians elsewhere.

Bennet proved even more hawkish and fanatic in terms of dealing with the Palestinians. He relaunched a controversial settlement expansion project that will see the construction of more than 3,412 settler units and more alarmingly split the occupied West Bank in two, the north and the south. The E1 project revolves around the construction of settler units for Israeli squatters at an unbuilt area of the occupied territories.

To make things worse, he provided a security umbrella for Israeli extremists to storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque, greenlighting a radical change in the status of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

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