This video shows Israeli occupation forces assaulting and arresting an elderly Palestinian man at the al-Aqsa mosque in eastern occupied Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday morning.
Quds News Network, which posted the video on its social media accounts, gave the man’s name as Abu Bakr al-Shaimi.
As armed occupation forces assault al-Shaimi, who attempts to evade their capture, a voice can be heard on the video warning that he has a heart ailment.
Local media reported that the incident occurred near the Bab al-Silsila gate of the al-Aqsa compound and that al-Shaimi was hauled off for questioning.
Harassment and arrests
Al-Shaimi is one of a number of Jerusalemites known as murabitoun who try to maintain a constant presence in the mosque as it faces escalating incursions from Israeli settlers and attacks with tear gas and stun grenades by the occupation forces guarding them.
On Wednesday, seven Palestinian women – the female plural noun is murabitat – were arrested by occupation forces as they exited the mosque, part of which was captured on video:
The women were released the next day after being fined 750 shekels ($200) each and banned from returning to the mosque for thirty days, Ma’an News Agency reported.
This kind of harassment is endemic with many worshippers being banned for extended periods, ordered under house arrest or interrogated. Another tactic used by the occupation is the taking of worshippers’ ID cards at the door as a preventative measure to make sure they do not camp overnight in advance of the settler incursion the next day.
Divide and conquer
A plethora of settler and Jewish extremist organizations yearn for the destruction of the al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock that sits near it – among the most revered holy sites for Muslims all over the world – and their replacement with a Jewish “Third Temple.”
But in the short term, many Palestinians believe, the settlers’ goal is to establish a permanent foothold by dividing the mosque into separate Jewish and Muslim areas, as was done with Hebron’s Ibrahimi mosque following Baruch Goldstein’s 1994 massacre of Palestinian worshippers.
This video, posted on Instagram, shows armed occupation forces guarding a group of settlers outside the al-Aqsa mosque on 22 October:
In 2013, settlers failed in their attempts to partition the al-Aqsa compound during the Jewish High Holidays. But this year the settlers succeeded on some days due to the severe repression used by Israeli forces.
These incursions represent a gross violation of the status quo which Israel agreed to maintain after it invaded and occupied Jerusalem in 1967.
At that time, Israel’s chief rabbis prohibited Jews from praying anywhere in the compound, which Jews call “Temple Mount,” on the theological grounds that they could inadvertently defile the “Holy of Holies” – the inner sanctuary of what Jewish belief holds was a temple that formerly existed on the site, the precise location of which is not known.
In recent years, however, extremist rabbis and settlers have undermined this ruling, seeking ever more aggressively to establish a physical presence in area.
Many of these extreme “Temple” activist groups have close ties to and receive funding from the Israeli government, according to a 2013 report from the Israeli nongovernmental organization Ir Amim.
The settlers now go up to the mosque daily in ever increasing numbers. At times occupation forces close parts of the compound to Muslims, as during recent Jewish holidays, or violently force Palestinian worshippers out using tear gas and stun grenades, thereby initiating and provoking violence.
During a 13 October incursion, occupation forces barricaded worshippers into a section of the mosque and rained down tear gas and stun grenades on them while the settlers went about their business.
These videos posted on Instagram capture moments of the 13 October assault:
It was a similar incursion in September 2000 by then Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon that is widely regarded as the spark that set off the second Palestinian uprising, or intifada.
With tensions mounting all over occupied Jerusalem due to relentless Israeli home demolitions, colonization, arrests and killings of Palestinians, the Israeli provocations at al-Aqsa have the potential to lead to much worse violence.
Yet the situation has been virtually ignored internationally. Palestinian Authority de facto leader Mahmoud Abbas recently stated that he would be “taking the necessary legal measures, at the international level, regarding the aggression of settlers on the al-Aqsa mosque.”
Abbas did not elaborate on what these measures would be, nor how they would be any more successful than all his previous failed efforts to halt Israel’s colonization while simultaneously helping Israel to crush any form of Palestinian resistance.
Notably, one of the leaders of the increasingly bold assault on the mosque is Moshe Feiglin, the deputy speaker of the Israeli parliament who recently called for Israel to put Palestinians in Gaza in “concentration camps” and to “exterminate” them.
In the video above, Feiglin can be seen touring the al-Aqsa compound last February. He states that under the stones he is walking on are the remains of the Jewish “First” and “Second” temples.