Jerusalem: Provocation and punishment leads to resistance

Jerusalem: Provocation and punishment leads to resistance
The attack on a West Jerusalem synagogue has enflamed tensions, and a young generation of Palestinians are ready to take advantage.
4 min read
19 November, 2014
Jerusalem has seen frequent clashes in recent months between Israeli troops and Palestinians [Anadolu]

The Israeli government did not hesitate to blame Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for the deaths of four rabbis and a Druze police officer in the recent attack on a synagogue - even though the killings occurred in West Jerusalem which is completely under Israeli control.

According to Palestinian sources, US Secretary of State John Kerry also held Abbas responsible, and angrily spoke of a “lack of Palestinian commitment”, while urging Abbas to condemn the attack.

Abbas’ condemnation was not sufficient, however. Neither is the small security commission that Abbas has set up in the presidential headquarters in Ramallah. No one seems to know the practical use of such a commission, seeing as the security coordination between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government does not include Jerusalem - not to mention West Jerusalem, which is considered by both authorities as part of the Israeli state.

Although Abbas has called for “complete pacification and the ceasing of all actions in order to allow for a political process that will bring peace to the Middle East”, the verbal attacks by Israeli officials have not stopped.

Moshe Feiglin, deputy speaker of the Knesset, has been among those far-right politicians and activists leading attempts to enter al-Aqsa mosque. The presence of ultranationalist Jewish activists at the site has led to rising tensions and violent clashes across the city in recent months.


Those experts in Israeli politics who believe that the attack that was carried out by fighters originally from the destroyed Palestinian village of Deir Yassin, only confirm the failure of the Israeli theory of deterrence. In addition, by blaming Abbas, the Israeli government shirks responsibility for its own actions, which has ignited unrest in Jerusalem.

“Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is in a difficult position because the attack did not occur in the West Bank, or in friction zones in East Jerusalem, but in West Jerusalem," political analyst Adel Shadid told al-Araby al-Jadeed.

"Thus, he cannot place the responsibility for the attack on Abbas’ shoulders. So, Netanyahu seems weak in front of the Israeli right, especially the ultra-orthodox religious Shas party that gained sympathy from the Israeli public after the attack."

The Israeli far-right is expected to take further provocative acts in the near future, Shadid said. “Israeli officials will not take into consideration the significance of this attack or any of the previous Palestinian resistance acts. They will, no doubt, respond with further provocation."

     By blaming Abbas the Israeli government shirks responsibility for its own actions.

Considering the history of Palestinian resistance in occupied Jerusalem, one should be aware of the scale of change that has occurred there recently.

In the 1990s, operations conducted by Hamas' al-Qassam Brigades shocked the streets of Jerusalem with suicide attacks. The pattern remained unchanged until the Second Intifada, a decade ago, when suicide attacks moved west of Jerusalem, spreading fear -the main social impact of the attacks - wider.


Palestinian political factions used to hurriedly claim responsibility for attacks and openly boast about their operations. Today, they indirectly "bless" such actions.

"The recent operations in Jerusalem reflect the decline in the confidence of the Palestinians in their political organisations," said Shadid. "Once, those organisations were considered a tool to repel Israeli oppression. However, there is now a gap which obliges individuals to take the initiative towards committing such attacks."

Shadid also believes that individual initiatives are not politically motivated and are not backed by political factions.

"This reality destroys the Israeli narrative - locally and internationally - that the Israeli government does not have a problem with the Palestinian citizens, but with political organisations, such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and with individuals who advocate anti-Israel sentiment, such as Abu Mazen [Abbas] and others," said Shadid.

Meanwhile, Israel is preparing its response - one that is likely to reflect collective punishment for the actions of an individual, said Mahmoud Moharib, a political science professor al-Quds University.

"Israel refuses to bear responsibility for the explosive situation in East Jerusalem," he said.

Israeli officials believed the occupation succeeded in silencing the Palestinians of East Jerusalem, he said, but they are now shocked to realise that a whole generation of Palestinians refuse to remain silent.

“Those Palestinians are ready to sacrifice their lives for the withdrawal of the Israeli occupation from East Jerusalem and, specifically, al-Aqsa [mosque]," he said.

Jamal Amr is an expert on Jerusalem, and agrees with Moharib. “Today, there is a whole generation of Palestinians in Jerusalem who treat death and life as synonymous," he told al-Araby.

Amr said he expected a further crackdown to be enforced against Palestinians in the coming days.

“No incident will pass without the addition of an arbitrary law which legitimises the killing of the Palestinians," he added.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Al Araby Al Jadeed, its editorial board or staff