Palestinian anger erupts in Jerusalem

by our Arab affairs correspondent

Violence is sweeping the occupied territories as Palestinians rage against Zionist settler provocations and new Israeli attempts to encroach on the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, a major Muslim shrine on the Temple Mount, which is also hugely symbolic for Jews.

Two Palestinians armed with a meat cleaver and a gun attacked worshippers at a synagogue in Jerusalem on Tuesday, killing five Israelis before the attackers were shot dead. Six Israelis were also injured. It was the deadliest such incident to hit Jerusalem since 2008.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to wage a “harsh response” while US Secretary of State John Kerry condemned the attack as an “act of pure terror.” The killings came a day after a Palestinian bus driver was found hanged in his vehicle in what Israeli authorities claim was suicide. But the man’s relatives say bruises on his body show he was tortured and then murdered in cold blood.

Palestinians’ anger against the Israeli occupation is boiling over with attacks occurring almost on a daily basis over the last month and it’s now spreading to the Arab minority within the Zionist entity itself. Thousands of Israeli Arabs took to the streets in northern Israel during a 24-hour general strike last week to protest against the shooting and killing of an Arab during an Israeli army raid in a village in Galilee. Later, an Israeli was nearly lynched by an angry Arab crowd in the village of Taibe while Zionist settlers torched a mosque near the West Bank town of Ramallah.

The weak Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, whose Palestinian Authority runs the “autonomous” zones in the occupied West Bank, condemned the synagogue attack on Tuesday.

His office issued a statement condemning “all kinds of attacks that target civilians regardless of who is behind it”.

“There has to be an immediate stop of breaking into al-Aqsa Mosque and an end of the provocations of settlers and incitement of Israeli cabinet ministers,” Abbas declared. The statement went on to demand an end to the Israeli occupation and said the Palestinian Authority remained committed to a two-state solution.

But the fighting Palestinians stood by the partisans. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Islamic Jihad and Hamas, the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood that controls the Gaza Strip, all praised the attack as an act of resistance.

The two attackers, who were shot dead by Israeli forces, were members of the PFLP and one of the front’s leaders said that Israel was ultimately responsible for all the current bloodshed.

“The operation today in Jerusalem is a natural response to the ongoing racist policies and crimes of the occupation, and it is the occupation that is responsible for the escalation in Jerusalem and throughout Palestine. We are witnessing lynchings, the targeting of Palestinians, the demolition of homes and confiscation of land, the building of colonies and the taking of unprecedented measures against Muslims’ and Christians’ holy sites in Jerusalem on a daily basis,” said Khalil Maqdesi, a member of the Central Committee of the PFLP.

“Every day thousands of supporters of the PFLP — and our entire Palestinian people — resist occupation in Jerusalem and throughout Palestine. There will be more of these kinds of actions so long as the occupier’s assault continues,” Maqdesi said.

“The PFLP will continue to target every institution of the occupation. No place in Jerusalem should be safe so long as the Palestinian people are not safe. ‘Security’ cannot be built on the backs of the Palestinian people. The only result of the occupation attacks on Jerusalem will be continued and escalating resistance among the Palestinian masses.

“Resistance is our only path; there is no other way in which Palestinians can liberate their land and achieve their rights. Resistance includes many methods of struggle, including, centrally, armed resistance and armed struggle. Revolutionary violence is necessary in order to confront and overthrow the colonisation of our land and the confiscation of our rights.”