Over the past week, Israeli incursions to the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and raids continued on the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood, Sheikh Jarrah, while a brutal Israeli military offensive in the blocked Gaza Strip has left many Palestinians dead.
But it has also taken root in an extraordinary phenomenon inside Israel, where thousands of Palestinian citizens from so-called “mixed” cities, towns, and cities have taken to the streets to assert their identities while living in a self-defined Jewish state.
“What is remarkable is that within the 48 [modern-day Israel, with reference to the 1948 declaration of the state]Palestinians who have long been ignored or considered ‘Israeli Arabs’ are powerfully reaffirming that they are Palestinians, ”said Layla Hallaq, a Haifa-based Palestinian activist.
Hallaq told Al Jazeera that the current demonstrations are “unprecedented” and are characterized by a movement of popular solidarity between Palestinians in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, as well as in the diaspora.
“Their protests are not only supportive, but a shared cause and mutual pain that all Palestinians experience.”
With a fifth of Israel’s population, the Palestinian citizens of Israel are approximately 1.6 million people today.
Unlike most Palestinians, they were ethnically cleansed by Zionist paramilitaries before and during the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, these Palestinians are descendants of those who managed to remain in their cities and towns or were internally displaced.
They are sometimes referred to as the “1948 Palestinians” in reference to their location within a territory that was taken by force to establish the state of Israel. The territory is also described as “within the green line,” in reference to the line that delimits Israel from the occupied Palestinian territories under its control.
Despite having Israeli citizenship, rights groups have done so documented several dozen Israeli laws that discriminate against Palestinian state citizens on a wide range of issues, including education, housing, political participation, and due process. They are treated as second and third class citizens.
Over the past week, Palestinian protests have taken place in cities across Israel, from the Naqab Desert (Negev) in the south, to Ramla, Yafa and Lydd (Lod in Hebrew) in the center of the country, to in the “Triangle” ”In Haifa and Nazareth, in the north.
Protesters gathered in solidarity with the Palestinians families in Sheikh Jarrah, facing imminent displacement, and against the Israeli attack on the Al-Aqsa enclosure, which left hundreds of Palestinians injured.
It is not the first time Palestinian citizens of Israel have protested against Israeli policies.
In 1976, six Palestinians were shot dead in protest of the massive Israeli expropriation of land, an event known as Earth Day and is commemorated annually on March 30th. As of October 2000, 13 Palestinians were shot when they joined the Second Intifada, triggered by the visit of then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to the Al-Aqsa compound.
However, Israel has historically pursued a policy of fragmenting the Palestinian population under its control, both within the country and in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, making sustained demonstrations of solidarity between Palestinians in various parts of historic Palestine even more difficult.
But experts have said continued protests in Israel demonstrate the real connection of the Palestinians.
“Recent events highlight not only the unity of the colonial oppression system, but also the unity of the Palestinian struggle,” Nimer Sultany, a public law lecturer at the Faculty of Oriental and African Studies, told Al Jazeera. the University of London.
“As in previous rounds of protests, as in October 2000, Palestinian protesters in the 1948 areas showed in practice the need and practice of an anti-colonial struggle.”
Sultany said Israel’s policy of maintaining one Jewish majority within the Green Line is no different from its demographic engineering in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, where it works to expel Palestinians from their lands and impose a Jewish presence.
“The colonial goal of maintaining” Jewish demographic control “or” Jewish sovereignty “and the trial of Palestine is the same in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as in Naqab (Negev), al-Khalil (Galilee), the” mixed cities ” “” and the Triangle, “he said.
An example is the city of Lydd, a city about 25 km from Tel Aviv, which has now become a point of protest. The city, once populated by 19,000 Palestinians before Israel was formed, was ethnically cleansed of most of its residents in July 1948. More than 200 died in the massacre, in which the former Israeli prime minister took part. Yitzhak Rabin.
Lydd currently has a population of 77,000, 30% of whom are Palestinians. For years, Palestinian residents have complained about institutional racism, which feeds marginalization and poverty. Hard-line Jewish settlers have also been displacing from the occupied West Bank since 2004, feeding tensions.
On May 10, as tensions climbing in East Jerusalem for Israel’s planned forced expulsions of Palestinian families and attacks on Al-Aqsa, a Palestinian flag was placed on a lantern instead of an Israeli in Lydd. That same night, a Palestinian resident named Moussa Hassouna was shot dead by a Jewish settler. The settlers attacked his funeral the next day.
Violent clashes continued, with Jewish settlers in the harsh West Bank occupied.
Mayor Yair Revivo, who has been accused of inciting Palestinians and is close to Israel’s interim prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said last week that he had lost control of the city. On May 11, Revivo met with Netanyahu, who then announced a state of emergency in Lydd, the first since 1966. At least 16 Israeli border police units were also deployed.
“The Jewish state will not tolerate pogroms against our citizens,” Netanyahu said in a televised speech Saturday night. “We will not allow our Jewish citizens to be lynched … At the same time, we will not allow Jews to take the law into their own hands and attack innocent Arabs.”
Violence of the settlers
But while Israeli police said a suspect in Hassouna’s assassination has been arrested, Israeli Public Security Minister Amir Ohana called for the shooter’s release.
“The arrest of the shooter in Lod and his friends, who apparently acted in self-defense, is terrible,” Ohana said. dit. “Law-abiding citizens who carry weapons are a force multiplier for the authorities for the immediate neutralization of the threat and danger.
Fadi Abu Kishek, a neighbor of Hassouna in Lydd, told Al Jazeera that settlers came from outside the city and “burned Palestinian cars, attacked the mosque, vandalized our cemetery and marched into areas where Palestinians live.”
The crowds are made up of far-right fascist groups such as Lehava, Hilltop Youth and the ultra-footballers La Familia and Beitar Yerushalayim, and sometimes join other Israeli city residents, Abu Kishek said.
“Settlers incite and attack, Palestinians respond by defending themselves, [and] the police arrive at the scene and start dropping sound bombs and arresting Palestinians, ”he said. “That’s the reality we’re dealing with.”
Other cities have witnessed attacks by crowds of Jewish settlers, some of whom have taken to the streets under the protection of Israeli police, shouting “Death to the Arabs.”
In Bat Yam, a city in central Israel, a brutally lynched crowd a Palestinian in a scene that aired on Israeli national television, while videos and images shared on social media showed Palestinian houses and vandalized families attacked in front of their children in Haifa and Akka (Acre). Two Palestinian children also suffered severe burns when Molotov cocktails were thrown inside their family home in Yafa’s Ajami neighborhood.
Adalah, a legal center for Palestinian citizens of Israel, reported that far-right Jewish Israelis have used social media to organize their attacks in recent days, and messages have been sent saying “they die to kill Palestinians ”.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has been alarmed by the outbreak of violence in Israel.
“I am particularly concerned about reports that Israeli police did not intervene when Palestinian citizens of Israel were being violently attacked and that far-right groups are using social media to rally people to carry weapons, knives, clubs. , sticks “use against Palestinian citizens of Israel,” Bachelet dit.
Israeli settlers set fire to a Palestinian house #Jaffa yesterday. This Palestinian boy who was inside the house suffered severe burns.
Groups of settlers roam the streets of occupied cities and towns demanding to attack the Arabs.pic.twitter.com/4sMPT7uIIY
– Maha Hussaini (@MahaGaza) May 15, 2021
Meanwhile, at least 800 Palestinian citizens of Israel, including dozens of minors, have been arrested in a week, according to lawyer Janan Abdo. “Many of the detainees needed medical treatment and there are many head injuries,” Abdo said in a statement.
Coexistence “a lie”
Both Hallaq and Sultany rejected the description of continued violence as an “inter-communal struggle,” an expression they said did not recognize the imbalance of power between Israel as a colonial power and the colonized Palestinians.
“What we witnessed last week is a natural reaction from a people who for 73 years have been facing occupation, oppression, siege and discrimination,” Hallaq said. “These are systematic and state-sanctioned racist attacks on the Palestinian minority in Israel,” Sultany added.
For Abu Kishek, a resident of Lydd, Israeli repression of recent protests has highlighted the oppression Palestinians are experiencing throughout historic Palestine – and has ripped off the image of the “coexistence” of so-called “mixed” cities. . within Israel.
WATCH: Israeli Jewish mobs smash cars with Palestinian drivers while Israeli police look at Ramle. pic.twitter.com/Czhc0TcEOg
– IMEU (@theIMEU) May 15, 2021
“This coexistence slogan is directed at the West and is an absolute lie,” he said.
“Israel has taken over the past, the present and the future. They treat us as if we were grateful to them for allowing us to live here, when this is our land ”.