Yabous Cultural Centre in Jerusalem had just ended all its preparations for the yearly Jerusalem Festival, and Rania, my daughter- in- law, director of Yabous, was spending hours to get everything ready for the opening night with a Flamingo performance on July 18. Of course all the family was planning to attend a variety of events, and in fact I had invited guests for the Flamingo night.
However, tension started mounting in Jerusalem after the shooting incident that took place on July 14, 2017 at El-Haram El-Shareef, one of the holiest sites in Islam. It is worth noting that the security of El-Haram as well as Jerusalem itself is under Israeli control, and that the armed men who shot the Druze soldiers and eventually got shot, are from Um El-Fahem inside Israel. This led to the closure of all the gates that give access to Muslim worshipers to reach the mosque, and of course it led to the cancellation of the Festival.
One cannot but wonder who could possibly benefit from such a shooting.
Ever since the occupation of the Palestinian Territories including East Jerusalem after the June 1967 war, Israel has coveted the area of the mosque, claiming it to be the site of the Jewish Temple and referring to it as “The Temple Mount.” For a starter they evicted all the Palestinians living around the Wailing Wall and demolished their homes so as to turn the whole area into a plaza for Jewish worshippers. Then there was the attempt to burn the mosque, which Israel at the time alleged the perpetrator was lunatic. And for those who might have forgotten, the 2002 armed uprising was triggered by the provocative visit of Ariel Sharon to the compound of El-Haram El-Shareef. Confiscation of property around the area never stopped and neither did the excavations below the Haram which has affected many houses in the area.
It almost fits the pattern, so that the status quo at El-Haram el Shareef agreed upon with Jordan, the Palestinian National Authority and Israel would not hold any more. Electronic devices and smart cameras have been placed at the main entrances to the mosque, but the Palestinians as well as Jordan refuse to deal with this change in the status quo. However, that has not deterred worshippers from worshipping on the streets outside the gates of Jerusalem despite the brutality of the Israeli armed forces to an extent that they raided the Makassed hospital where some of the injured young Palestinians were being treated. Never has the Jerusalem community, both Muslims and Christian, been so united in facing this onslaught on one of its holiest sites.
After fifty years of a brutal military occupation it has become openly clear that Israel is capable of achieving what it sets out to achieve and gets away with it even if it violates international law and UN resolutions. “Whatever Lola wants Lola gets,” a song from the fifties, continues to be so pertinent regarding Israel. The daily provocative incursions into the compound of the mosque by settlers under the protection of Israeli forces, proves their intention.
Should the international community allow this to go on? And will the intervention to salvage this third holiest Mosque in the Muslim world by countries who have peace agreements with Israel like Jordan, and Egypt, and others countries like Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, who have unofficial relationships, make a difference? Or will they acquiesce to all the Israeli measures and allow Israel to achieve what it wants to achieve regardless of the havoc that it will bring to the area should the Israelis partition the mosque as they did with the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron? God forbid!!!