Palestinian rage over holy city fuels fears of bigger conflict

1 / 3
Palestinians take part in a protest against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in Gaza City on December 7. (AFP)
2 / 3
Above, Palestinian women shout slogans during a protest in Gaza City on December 6. (AFP)
3 / 3
A protester waves a Palestinian flag near the words “Free Palestine” spray-painted onto a wall of the US consulate during a demonstration in Istanbul on December 6. (AFP)
Updated 07 December 2017
0

Palestinian rage over holy city fuels fears of bigger conflict

LONDON: Palestinians on Wednesday warned that a bloody third “intifada” could follow a decision by US President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Manuel Hassassian, the Palestinian Ambassador to the UK, branded Trump’s policy shift as a “breach of international conventions” which both trampled on the rights of Palestinians and put Israel at heightened risk of attack.
He told Arab News: “People are going to go into the streets, not only in Palestine but in all capitals across the Arab world. The situation is very risky.”
By changing America’s stance toward Jerusalem, Trump “is opening a can of worms that cannot be controlled.”
Trump’s decision sparked anger across the Middle East and beyond as global leaders warned about the destabilizing repercussions across borders.
Since fielding a phone call from Donald Trump on Tuesday night, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has been in close contact with regional allies, the UN and the EU, demanding they condemn the move.
Hassassian said that the US policy shift discredited America’s role as a peace broker between Israelis and Palestinians.
“We cannot look at the US as a mediator anymore,” he told Arab News, adding that the new policy showed an undeniable bias toward the Jewish state. Moreover, Hassassian cautioned that altering the status of Jerusalem would spark ire far beyond the borders of Palestine.
“The issue of Jerusalem will carry the weight of a religious conflict, now,” Hassassian said. “1.5 billion Muslims are not going to accept the monopoly of Judaism over the (holy city).”
The American president he said, “is putting the region into real risk.”
The international community considers East Jerusalem to be Palestinian territory illegally occupied by Israel since the 1967 war.
Trump’s statement, Hassassian said, constituted a break with UN resolutions and international norms.
Ben Jamal, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, agreed. “The decision that Donald Trump has made is a flagrant violation of international law and disregards legitimate rights and claims of the Palestinian people,” he told Arab News.
He said that the status of Jerusalem was an unequivocal red line for Palestinians. “There is no possible peaceful resolution to the conflict that does not acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state.”
Condemnation of Trump’s new policy was echoed by Omar El-Hamdoon president of the Muslim Association of Britain, who said it was “not just a step in the wrong direction but it’s almost like pouring oil onto the fire.”
Hassassian said the Palestinian leadership was appealing to the international community to stand against Trump’s intransigence.
Jamal agreed: “It is time for the international community to take robust action if it wishes to support a just resolution,” he said. “Donald Trump’s decision needs to be … condemned by all governments, including the UK government that say they support international law.”


War fears mount despite cease-fire between Gaza and Israel

Updated 22 July 2018
0

War fears mount despite cease-fire between Gaza and Israel

  • Any further escalation will deepen humanitarian catastrophe in the Strip: UN chief
  • Before the truce, Israel unleashed an offensive it says destroyed more than 60 Hamas targets, including three battalion headquarters

GAZA CITY: After seven chaotic and violent hours, quiet returned to the Gaza Strip Friday night. Yet on Saturday, civilians in the Palestinian enclave and Israel remained fearful of the potential for a new war.
The fatal shooting by a Palestinian sniper of an Israeli soldier during protests along the border on Friday sparked a widespread wave of Israeli bombing, with three fighters from Hamas killed and dozens of targets struck.
After intensive indirect mediation by the UN and Egypt, a truce came into force at midnight, yet both populations remained on high alert of another all-out conflict between Israel and Hamas.
“War is coming. I know that the (Israeli) occupation is carrying out raids to pave the way with their home base,” Somaya Rabaya, 21, from Deir Al-Balah in central Gaza, said.
While the cease-fire deal included an end to rockets and mortars, it didn’t include a commitment by Hamas to stop what Israeli media have dubbed “terror kites,” a senior Hamas source said.
In a brief statement on Saturday, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the movement accepted the cease-fire brokered by Egyptian and UN officials and that calm had been restored. Later, the Israeli military announced a return to civilian routine along the volatile border.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “gravely concerned” about the escalation and called on both sides to step back from the prospect of another devastating conflict. “Any further escalation will endanger the lives of Palestinians and Israelis alike, deepen the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and undermine current efforts to improve livelihoods,” he said.
On Saturday morning in Gaza, 17-year-old Wissam was with a number of other youths fitting kites with small bottles full of diesel, while sheltering behind a sandbank for fear of Israeli strikes. “This morning, they bombed a Hamas observation post near here. I was afraid they would hit us with a missile,” he said.
Israel says it has no interest is engaging in another war with Hamas, but says it will no longer tolerate the Gaza militant campaign of flying the incendiary devices into Israel.
On Friday, Israel unleashed an offensive it says destroyed more than 60 Hamas targets, including three battalion headquarters.
“The attack delivered a severe blow to the Hamas’ training array, command and control abilities, weaponry, aerial defense and logistic capabilities along with additional military infrastructure,” the Israeli military said in a statement, adding that the strikes “will intensify as necessary.”