• Friday, Jun 25, 2021
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OP-ED: For how long will Jerusalem continue to bleed?

  • Published at 04:39 pm May 11th, 2021
Israel Palestine Jerusalem Clashes
Israeli police detain a Palestinian during clashes at the compound that houses Al-Aqsa Mosque, known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, in Jerusalem's Old City on May 10, 2021 Reuters

Unless the world comes forward to address this crisis soon, the very future of Islam is threatened

“Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing”  (Sura: Al-Israa)

As weeks-long brutal Israeli oppression on innocent Palestinians continue in East Jerusalem, the only question that comes to  my mind is: Who is there to ensure justice for the God-fearing victims of an occupied holy city? 

Two have been killed while nearly 200 Palestinians have been injured after Israeli police stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque and dispersed worshippers in occupied East Jerusalem. Even more shockingly, the Israeli carnage continues during this holy month of Ramadan. 

On one hand, the occupiers have displayed and extreme degree of hatred and injustice to Palestinians, while on the other hand, they have shown clear disrespect for Islam.  

By now, plenty of video footage of the inhuman treatment extended to peace-loving Muslim worshippers has become viral on YouTube and social media.  

In order to divert the world’s attention from the East Jerusalem carnage, the Israel air force has now launched a bombing campaign, killing at least nine Palestinians in Gaza and near Rafah in the south, branding the victims as “militants.” The plan is now clearly to expand and continue the confrontation on a bigger scale. 

Whereas Israel, as an occupying force, is legally bound to guarantee the safety and well-being of Jerusalem citizens, its police and military forces have engaged in a deadly game to wipe out the existence of the city’s original inhabitants by replacing them with a growing number of illegal settlers. 

It is right during this most difficult of times when the world and especially Muslim majority countries must take serious note of the failing humanitarian situation, not only in East Jerusalem but in the entire occupied state of Palestine. 

I am sincerely thankful to the Muslim and non-Muslim countries that have harshly condemned Israeli atrocities that have taken place in East Jerusalem. However, the growing concern is that with every passing hour, the opportunity for a peaceful settlement based on mutual trust and consideration is diminishing between us and Israel. 

For my readers’ convenience, East Jerusalem remains part of the occupied Palestinian territory, in which international humanitarian law applies. As a patriotic and concerned Palestinian, my question is: Why is the rule of law missing in East Jerusalem today? How come the occupying force has become so bold and defiant as to unleash unimaginable violence on peaceful Muslim worshippers at the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque?

As I keep penning my painful grievances, I am reminded of the famous saying of Martin Luther King Jr -- “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Today, East Jerusalem is the hotspot which confirms the accuracy of this famous quote. 

In the latest chain of events, a fresh spate of violence has now broken out since last Sunday in parts of East Jerusalem, including in Sheikh Jarrah and outside the walled Old City, as well as in Haifa. This clearly hints at a pre-planned and prolonged Israeli act of violence to be continued before and after Eid-ul-Fitr. 

Now it is important to shed light on a very important historical fact. For Muslims worldwide, the Noble Sanctuary, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, is Islam’s third holiest site, and the Dome of the Rock, a seventh-century structure, is believed to be where Prophet Muhammad  (pbuh) ascended to heaven. 

At the same time, Jews believe the Al-Aqsa compound is where a Biblical Jewish temple once stood. What’s interesting is that Jewish law and the Israeli Rabbinate forbid Jews from entering the compound and praying there, as it is considered too holy to tread upon. Then what’s the ultimate intention of this violence?

If we meticulously analyze the latest series of events, it becomes clear that a systematic approach has begun to swiftly complete the Judaization process of East Jerusalem. The Al-Aqsa Mosque has been turned into a prime target because of its religious and historic significance linked to Islam. 

We fear, in the long run, Israeli political leadership will go further to claim and destroy the holy mosque by replacing it with an imaginative so-called Temple Mount.

Unless this destructive and sinister attempt is prevented by the Muslim ummah and the international community right away, the repercussions would be deadly for the future of not only occupied Palestine, but for the future of Islam and the entire Middle East.

However, apart from numerous Asian and African countries, Bangladesh too has harshly condemned the recent violence in East Jerusalem. thnakfully, Christians of East Jerusalem came forward in defense of peaceful Muslim worshippers, defending and nursing them in time of their need. 

This benevolent gesture echoes traditional solidarity between Muslims and Christians, despite their differences in faith, in Jerusalem. All violent attempts to crush this solidarity have failed.

Leaving the holy month of Ramadan on one side, the world is also passing through a critical time of a global health crisis. As the novel coronavirus re-emerges in a far deadlier form with newer mutants killing by the thousands in many countries, the occupied state of Palestine stands as the most vulnerable of all countries in today’s world. Not even 10% of its total population of a little over 5 million has been vaccinated. 

Where other countries have amassed millions of Covid-19 vaccine shots for their respective populations, Palestine remains far behind in ensure health and safety for its people -- mainly due to Israeli health authorities’ lack of concern.

I urge the WHO, the international community, Muslim majority countries, and foremost the OIC member states to consider the growing health crisis in Palestine. As for Muslim countries, it is a religious obligation too. It is time to realize that their Muslim brothers and sisters are being repeatedly denied vital health care rights in the midst of a global pandemic under a foreign occupying regime. 

In conclusion, it is my sincere appeal for the countries of the world to engage in serious soul-searching -- ask their conscience about the plight of the Palestinian people and their uncompromising struggle for a free state. 

A very significant Islamic holy mosque is now under direct threat. With every single hour passing, Zionist aggression and violence is shooting up in Palestine. The latest Israeli atrocities reaffirm this truth once more. 

Unless the world comes forward to address the East Jerusalem crisis soon, ever-defying Israeli oppression will most likely trigger a far bigger security threat in Palestine and in the Middle East.

Yousef Ramadan is Palestinian Ambassador to Bangladesh.

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