Settlers step up hostilities against Palestine’s mosques

A Palestinian man stands next to a house vandalized with Hebrew-language graffiti on 18 April in Nablus.

Shadi Jarar’ah APA images

Israeli settlers blocked an ambulance carrying a Palestinian patient in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron on Tuesday.

This video shows one settler standing in front of the ambulance while surrounded by heavily armed Israeli soldiers.

There have been numerous other incidents of Israeli settler violence in Hebron recently.

On Wednesday, Israeli settlers erected a tent in the Ibrahimi mosque garden and uprooted a long-standing tree, witnesses told Quds Press.

Pictures of the tent circulated on the Internet.

Intimidating holy sites

The mosque’s director, Hafthi Abu Sneineh, told the publication that the attack was part of continuous Israeli actions against the mosque, with the intention of changing its Islamic features.

Yousef Edeis, religious affairs minister in the Palestinian Authority, stated that there has been a few hundred attacks on the Ibrahimi and al-Aqsa mosques in the past two months.

On Tuesday, scores of Israeli settlers stormed al-Aqsa mosque in occupied Jerusalem, escorted by heavily armed occupation soldiers.

Members of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, also went to al-Aqsa mosque under the protection of soldiers this week after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that lawmakers can visit the area once every three months.

Previously, Israeli lawmakers were not allowed to visit al-Aqsa mosque due to an agreement signed between Jordan – the custodian of holy sites in Jerusalem – and Israel. Al-Aqsa mosque is one of Islam’s holiest sites.

This video shows the Knesset members singing the Israeli national anthem in the fields of the mosque.

These actions align with plans to erase Palestinian culture, reinvent Jerusalem’s history according to a Zionist narrative and push Palestinians out of the city.

“Price tag” attacks

Israeli settlers also stormed Islamic sites in the occupied West Bank village of Kifl Haris late June. They performed Talmudic prayers at the Islamic sites under the protection of Israeli forces.

On 8 July, Israeli settlers blocked the road between the West Bank cities of Nablus and Tulkarem with the help of occupation soldiers.

Israeli settlers also recently punctured car tires and sprayed racist anti-Arab graffiti on the walls of a village near Nablus.

This kind of vandalism attack is often called a “price tag” – a term Israeli settlers and extremists have adopted to describe sometimes lethal attacks on non-Jews and their property, especially Palestinians.

In late June, hundreds of Israeli settlers went on the rampage in Joseph’s Tomb near Nablus. Settlers were escorted by Israeli forces, who shot at Palestinians, injuring them with live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas.

Earlier this month, Israeli settlers uprooted hundreds of trees on occupied Palestinian land in Bethlehem. Photos of the scene were published by the Quds news outlet.

Attempted lynching

An Israeli settler hit Palestinian shepherd Salim Shehadeh on his head with a heavy object last month, according to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.

Shehadeh was on his way home after grazing his sheep near his home in the West Bank village of Urif when he was attacked.

The Palestinian village of Urif is located close to the Yitzhar settlement, which hosts some of the most violent settlers in the occupied West Bank.

Yitzhar’s rabbi, Yosef Elitzur, has advocated for settlers to commit so-called “price tag” attacks on Palestinians. Elitzur has also co-authored a book justifying the killing of non-Jewish children and babies of Israel’s enemies since “it is clear that they will grow to harm us.”

The 71-year-old Shehadeh lost consciousness and woke up in the Rafidia Hospital in Nablus.

“The Israeli settlers beat me with a large stone on my head,” Shehadeh told the Palestinian campaign group Al-Haq.

“When I lost consciousness and fell to the ground, they attacked me, beat my face and wrapped a rope around my neck. They dragged me for a distance as residents of the village watched.”

Israeli settlers then attacked Palestinians in their village, and Israeli soldiers joined them in assaulting villagers, shooting at residents and beating several with rifle butts.

Bahajat al-Safdi, 32, was injured by a rubber-coated bullet.

“While I was trying to move the youths away, I heard a soldier say in Arabic ‘shoot him’,” al-Safadi told B’Tselem.

“Instead of enjoying a family meal that evening, to mark the end of the fast, it turned into a sad occasion because of the settlers, who constantly disrupt our lives and attack us.”

Settlers and soldiers enjoy near-total impunity for attacks on Palestinians.

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Zionsim is Nazism. From Occupied Palestine to Ukraine. Premier Ford, Province of Ontario (Conservative) to Minister of Foreign Affairs Freeland, Ottawa, Ontario, capital of Canada (Liberal). Either empty headed or stuffed with evil.

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It is baffling how anyone can still support the non-state of Israel. Its "most moral" army in the world is the most immoral. Israel calls itself a "democracy" when it never has been a democracy or a legitimate state. The settlers must be dealt with as the criminals they are. Since the corrupt and illegal Israel won't do it, the international court must take on this task by sending UN troops in to stop the crimes against humanity perpetuated by this hateful blight on the world.

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Tamara Nassar

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada.