The embarrassment caused by the Israeli soldiers' negligence Saturday couldn't be papered over by shelling Hamas positions. More was needed
In the terror attack on the Gaza border at 9:30 P.M. Saturday, two boys, 15 and 17, were killed and two others, 16 and 17, were wounded. An Israeli military force fired around 10 artillery shells into Palestinian territory at the four, who were about 50 meters west of the border fence.
The bodies of Abdullah Armilat and Salem Sabah were found by a Palestine Red Crescent team that managed to reach them only Sunday morning. Both Armilat, 15, and Sabah, 17, are thought to have bled to death after being wounded by shrapnel from the Israeli shells.
The location, east of Shokka in the southern Gaza Strip, is known as a place from which young men hoping either to find jobs or be arrested, and thereby escape the life of hopeless poverty to which they have been sentenced, try to cross into Israel. Around 60 percent of young Gazans are unemployed, according to the latest figures. On television, and from a few high spots in Gaza, young Palestinians can see the Jews’ spacious communities, swimming in greenery, feeding the Gazans’ delusions of work, opportunities and open spaces.
Another point of infiltration, or attempted infiltration, that the Israeli army knows well is in central Gaza. Just this month, five young men who set out from there in search of work were caught and arrested. Most of those seeking to cross into Israel do so at night, like Armilat and Sabah. The vast majority, like Armilat, Sabah and their two friends, are from area Bedouin families.
The two teens whose lives were saved are being treated at the European Gaza Hospital in southern Gaza. One, whose wounds were less severe, told a researcher from the Palestinian Center for Human Rights that he and his friends, whose lives were cut short at such a young age, indeed hoped to cross the fence and look for work in Israel. When the doctor told his agonized father his son would be released the next day, the father burst into tears and kissed the doctor’s hand.
Recently there has been another rise in the number of people trying to enter Israel without permission. In the face of grinding poverty and growing despair, young people have grown bolder.
“The Israeli army is odd; it’s hard to understand it sometimes,” said a resident of Rafah who is like a little brother to me. We haven’t seen each other for 10 years, but we’ve cultivated trust and a close relationship through telephone calls.
“Sometimes you can see the army is restraining itself, showing it can draw distinctions,” he continued. “Usually, if whoever the soldiers catch is younger than 18, the soldiers release him on the spot and return him to Gaza. The soldiers are familiar with this spot and know the people leaving from it are hoping to find work. They have night-vision equipment, and they could have seen the four teens were unarmed. So why shell them directly and kill them?”
You’re wrong, my young friend, it’s not in off in the least. Ever since Saturday morning, when Israeli soldiers were seriously wounded by a bomb placed on Gazan territory, both official and media spokespeople had been preparing the ground for rapid revenge. It was said that not since 2014, during Operation Protective Edge, had there been such a serious incident. The detonation of an explosive device targeted experienced, well-armed soldiers was upgraded in the media to a terror attack. The head of the army’s Southern Command, Eyal Zamir, declared Sunday that “The attack on IDF soldiers is a grave terrorist incident,” as if the targets had been young children at a kindergarten or tired women on a bus carrying their baskets back from the market. The anger broke into television programming on Saturday and kept growing.
The embarrassment caused by the soldiers’ painful negligence could not be papered over merely by shelling empty Hamas positions. More was needed. In other words, a few Palestinians who were available for the killing, who could be buried in one vague sentence in media reports, with the aid of the monopoly that we hold on the right to define what constitutes terror.
Every Egyptian military regime has sealed off Gaza, blamed Gazans for Cairo's own problems and sown fear, humiliation and misery among the enclave's Palestinian population. Al-Sissi is no exception
Egypt, the only Arab country bordering Gaza, is strongly associated with the beleaguered population’s suffering and misery, but also nostalgia and lingering hope. But for as long as Egypt continues to be hijacked by military dictators, Gaza is doomed to suffer.
In the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, the Jordanian and Egyptian armies captured 22% of historic Palestine. Jordan annexed the West Bank, and gave its residents almost full rights, including Jordanian citizenship. Until today, Palestinians in the West Bank hold permanent or temporary Jordanian passports, or at least can travel to Jordan without restrictions.
Egypt, however, refused to annex the Gaza Strip, but rather fenced it off, installed an occupying force made up of military intelligence, and appointed a military governor in full control of it. The first governor was Mahmoud Riad, who later became the third Secretary General of the Arab League.
Riad’s first move in office was to give up a third of the Gaza Strip (about 200 square kilometers) to Israel in 1950, after the Israeli military complained that Palestinian refugees in Gaza were crossing the armistice line to visit their demolished villages, or to move to the West Bank and Jordan.
Gaza, flooded with Palestinian refugees displaced from 247 destroyed villages, was Egypt’s last priority, and it refused to assume any responsibility over its then-population of one million. Although Gaza was one of Egypt’s frontlines of defense in its conflict with Israel, the Egyptian regime’s position on Gazans was to never accept the burden of their care, but rather pivot responsibility to Israel as the overall occupying force, a position that it has held consistently until now.
Egypt actively thwarted Palestinian efforts to mobilize politically or choose their own leadership, and repeatedly denied Palestine’s Grand Mufti Amin al-Husseini entry to Gaza to attend national conferences. It also demilitarized the Gaza Strip and disarmed the rebel groups that were fighting against Israel under the premise of an Egyptian promise, which never materialized, that, "It’s our job to set you free, not yours!"
Furthermore, Egypt's first president, Gamal Abdel Nasser’s domestic persecution campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood, the communists and the Jews extended to largescale arbitrary arrests of Palestinian activists, unionists and intellectuals in the Gaza Strip.
Recently, in Copenhagen, I met Umm Fadi, a Palestinian mother of three from Gaza, now in her 80s. She recalled over dinner how, in 1959, the Egyptian military arrested thousands of Gazan activists overnight and took them to a military prison in Egypt. Her husband, Fakhri, was amongst the detained activists, for no obvious reason.
At the crack of dawn, Umm Fadi hastened to the Rafah land crossing to visit her husband. But passing from Gaza to Egypt has traditionally been an impossible task unless one pays some unaffordable bribe to the gatekeepers. Palestinians in Gaza only held an Egyptian-issued refugee travel document that didn’t even allow them to cross into Egypt freely.
My late grandmother, Egyptian herself, went through the same experience at the borders when trying to return to Egypt. She once told me, just as Umm Fadi described, "All passengers had to slip some money along with their passports to the border officers to let them cross to Egypt." Passengers were always afraid they'd given less than what the officer expected - in which case, the officer would arrest them on charges of attempted bribery.
That tradition continues today: Gazans are explicitly blackmailed to pay a bribe, at a minimum of $2000, to leave Gaza through the Rafah crossing.
Upon finally arriving at the Egyptian military prison, Umm Fadi asked to visit her husband or find him an attorney, but both requests were denied under the pretext of "national security concerns." Luckily, she had a friend, Afaf Abu Hasira, who was married to an Egyptian military officer. He facilitated a meeting for Umm Fadi with infamous prison governor Hamza Al-Bassiouni to petition to see her husband.
Al-Bassiouni asked Umm Fadi to supply a list of bribes in order to see her husband in prison. She had to sell her jewelry in return for a visit permit. When she walked into the prison yard, she was shocked to find famous Gazan activists and leaders like Muin Bseiso, Samir Al Barqouni, Khalil Oweida and others, in torn clothes, perspiring profusely under a boiling sun, almost starved to death and covered in blood, bruises and scars from dog bites and the guards' lash.
She was blackmailed again to spare her husband the daily torture and humiliation in prison. She eventually had to sell their land in Gaza at an undervalued price to pay a huge bribe to move her husband to a non-military prison called Al-Wahat. The torture was no less severe in there, but she was able to visit him more often. Her husband remained in prison for four years with no trial, with no charges brought against him and no announced release date.
In 1967, Egypt lost control over Gaza, but the regime remained relatively hostile to its population. Anwar al-Sadat’s presidency differed little from Nasser’s; in 1978, Sadat launched a largescale arrest and deportation campaign against Palestinian students in Egyptian universities.
My father was studying medicine at Cairo University when the Egyptian national security forces arrested him; forces of ill-repute whose nominal specialty was, and is, counter-terrorism, but whose main aim has always been to target the regime’s political opponents. My grandmother, too, was forced to sell her gold jewelry to bribe her son out of prison and return him to the university.
It wasn’t until the 2011 revolution that Egypt, for the first time, had a government truly representative of its population. The borders with Gaza reopened, the claustrophobic population no longer felt imprisoned, the economy boomed, there were visits by Egyptian delegations to Gaza and vice versa; Gazans were treated like human beings again. It brought Gaza back to life. And Gazans took pride, for the first time in decades, in their identity when they visited Egypt.
Unfortunately, that golden era was short-lived.
It lasted two years before another military dictator led a coup against the elected government, sealed off Gaza from the world again, vilified it as the devil and key cause of Egypt’s repeated crises, and brought back a dark era of fear and misery.
By now, it’s almost a punishable offense to be a Gazan in Egypt; Egypt's population, subjected to interminable state propaganda, fear contact with Gazans as if they had the plague, or a contagious moral defect. And Gazans are the Egyptian regime's easiest targets for arbitrary arrests.
In 2014, my cousin was randomly picked up on the street to be a witness in a case with which he had no connection. When the officer learned he was from Gaza, although he held Egyptian citizenship, the officer called him a "terrorist" and threw him into detention for several weeks without even informing his family, who searched for him, increasingly desperately, without a single clue as to his whereabouts. Luckily, my uncle had some connections in the national security services who got his son out for a "decent price."
Ever since al-Sissi’s rise to power, it’s been virtually impossible for Gaza’s two million inhabitants to travel out of their open-air prison to a fellow Arab country. Egypt opens Gaza’s one gate to the world only occasionally: for three days every three months. Egypt decides who goes in or out and denies that right to thousands of people. Passengers must pay huge bribes to be allowed to leave Gaza, and then they are liable to humiliation, plunder, blackmail or arrest at countless checkpoints that punctuate that transit route.
Two weeks ago, Egypt opened its borders for three days after a long closure. My own family, waitlisted to travel for two years, failed to leave Gaza through the Rafah border crossing for the fifth consecutive time because they couldn’t pay the bribe.
The day before, I had called the Egyptian embassy in Sweden to check on my four-month-old visa application to see my family in Cairo. Once the employee heard me say the word "Gaza," his tone immediately became condescending, and reminded me that Gazans, and only Gazans, have to pass through an endless high-level security check by the national security authorities to obtain a permit to visit Egypt. A well-connected friend in Egypt told me that the current rate for a bribe to get that permit exceeds a thousand dollars.
I had a flashback to the 70 years of suffering that Egypt has dealt successive generations of Gazans. I felt the pent-up anger for that – and I also felt the shame of how the world continues to abandon Gaza as the Egyptian military regime's easy prey.
Muhammad Shehada is a writer and civil society activist from the Gaza Strip and a student of Development Studies at Lund University, Sweden. He was formerly the PR officer for the Gaza office of the Euro-Med Monitor for Human Rights. Twitter: @muhammadshehad2
"We have stated many times that we won’t accept the statements that Israel, as a Zionist state, should be destroyed and wiped off the map."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov chastised Iran on Monday for calling for Israel’s destruction during a panel discussion in Moscow where Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was sitting with him on the dais.
“We have stated many times that we won’t accept the statements that Israel, as a Zionist state, should be destroyed and wiped off the map. I believe this is an absolutely wrong way to advance one’s own interests,” Lavrov said in Moscow at the Valdai International Discussion Club conference entitled “Russia in the Middle East: Playing on All Fields.”
The two-day conference brought together heads of think-tanks throughout the Middle East, from Libya to Iran, including Dore Gold, head of the Jerusalem Center of Public Affairs, and Amos Yadlin, who heads the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.
Gold, a former director-general of the foreign ministry, was in the audience for Lavrov’s statement, and deemed it – being said in the presence of Zarif – as very significant, “because it is blatant criticism by the foreign minister of Russia of their Iranian ally.”
Asked how Zarif responded, Gold said the Iranian diplomat just smiled, adding that, “he is very good at smiling.”
“By the same token” Lavrov continued, “we oppose attempts to view any regional problem through the prism of fighting Iran.”
According to Lavrov, the US position on issues such as Syria, Yemen, and “even the latest developments around the Palestinian issue – including Washington’s announcement of its decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital – are largely motivated by this anti-Iranian stance.”
Zarif, in his comments, referred to last week’s incident on the northern border where the incursion of an Iranian drone led Israel to shoot it down and attack Syrian and Iranian installations inside Syria. An Israeli F16 was shot down during those attacks.
“Israel has violated Syrian sovereignty. So for the first time in 36 years, Syrian defense forces managed to bring down an Israeli plane. Is this a catastrophe? Is this a strategic complication, or is the fact that Israel violated the airspace of a sovereign state a strategic catastrophe?” Zarif asked.
He continued: “Israel has to put a stop to its aggression. Don’t look for excuses, such as drones. We need to stop this aggression, and if anyone takes such an action against another country, it is possible to react.”
On Sunday at the Munich Security Conference, which Zarif also attended, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu displayed a piece of the downed drone and confirmed that Iran has been denying that it sent the unmanned aerial vehicle.
“Well, here’s a piece of that Iranian drone, or what’s left of it after we shot it down,” Netanyahu said. “I brought it here so you can see for yourself. Mr. Zarif, do you recognize this? You should – it’s yours.”
After comedian Sarah Silverman called last week for people “to stand up” for imprisoned Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi, she quickly encountered a barrage of feedback that lasted through the weekend. Some applauded, some criticized, some sought to educate Silverman, who has a history of supporting groups opposed to Israel’s occupation.
The comic retweeted a call from Amnesty International for Tamimi to be freed from jail, two months after she slapped a soldier.
In the backlash, pro-Israel journalist Noah Pollak accused Silverman of “narcissistic Hollywood political posturing at its vilest and most ignorant” while pro-Israel activist Chloé Valdary wrote to Silverman, Tamimi is from a “notorious terrorist-supporting family.”
Silverman reacted with,
“Ok, friend. But may I ask, do you wonder why she has done this? And where her rage comes from? And might we see ourselves in her in any way?”
Tamimi, 17, was arrested last December 19 in the early morning hours at her family home in the West Bank village of occupied Nabi Saleh. She has since been indicted on five counts of assault and incitement. Her case has gained prominence because supporters say the teen is subject to an unfair Israeli military court system that issues harsh sentences to Palestinians.
In the actual incident that led to Tamimi’s arrest, the petite teen on December 15 shouted at an Israeli soldier entering her family’s property, “Get out or I’ll punch you,” and then slapped him. The encounter, which followed the shooting of Tamimi’s cousin Mohammed that day, in Jerusalem-related protests, was filmed by Ahed Tamimi’s mother Nariman, and the two shared the footage on social media, which landed them both additional charges of incitement.
Silverman is the latest with a high profile to back Tamimi. Earlier this month 27 celebrities signed a letter seeking Tamimi’s release. But Silverman stands apart by being the most well-known of the supporters with ties to Israel, through both family and support to liberal Zionist causes. Her older sister Susan Silverman is a prominent rabbi in Israel and campaigner most known for calling for an egalitarian prayer section at the Western Wall in the Old City– including in many demonstrations.
Sarah Silverman has twice performed in the Jewish state. In one of her shows she mentioned Palestinians must wait in long lines at checkpoints in order to enter Israel. Last year she contributed to a Passover Hagadah that called to end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. In the 2012 and 2015 elections in Israel she endorsed the Meretz party, a left-wing group that is opposed to Israel’s occupation (and current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) and calls for the creation of a Palestinian state. Her views have been shared over social media for years. As late as last December, she set her Twitter location to “state of Palestine.”
In the Twitter-storm over Tamimi, Silverman reposted a list of organizations that back Palestinian rights, and an article by the left-Jewish group IfNotNow that criticizes Zionism. IfNotNow invited her to attend a meeting with them in-person in Los Angeles.
The Israeli occupation prosecutors have been working arduously for two months, like the tailors in Hans Christian Andersen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes, to tailor a case for Ahed Tamimi, in order to make her a terrorist.
After her arrest, it was ruled that she must be kept in prison until the end of proceedings, because, God forbid, she might slap again.
After indicting her on some rather ridiculous charges such as “interfering with a soldier carrying out his duties”, her trial was to actually begin on her 17th birthday, the 31st of January – but it was delayed a week, and then another week. The prosecutors needed more time to tailor the final, invisible touches to this amazing case.
Finally, last week, the trial started, and we were meant to witness it. But alas, after a few minutes, the judge suddenly ordered all spectators except family members to leave and announced that the proceedings would continue behind closed doors. He said he was acting in the best interest of a juvenile defendant.
That was not in the interest of Ahed Tamimi, nor of her family. “The court decided what is best for the court, and not what is good for Ahed,” Ahed’s defense attorney Gaby Lasky told reporters, and said that the judge was trying to keep the world from watching.
But the occupation judge knows best. Better than Ahed’s parents, better than Ahed herself – what is best for Ahed. More fairytales.
And this reminds me of another fairytale – Rapunzel – in Disney’s rendering called “Tangled”. In the song called “Mother knows best”, Rapunzel is kidnapped by the fake “Mother Gothel” who wants to benefit from the magical power of her hair. Gothel sings to her that it’s best for her to remain imprisoned because of what’s awaiting outside – because mother knows best.
So the military court apparently thinks that it is best for Ahed that her case would be handled “in the dark, without witnesses and cameras”, just as Israeli journalist Ben Caspit had opined would be best.
Of course, the Israeli occupation court only wants Ahed’s best. Why should we not believe that, or any other fairy tale?
But in the real world, as Israeli human rights lawyer Michael Sfard tells us, Israeli military law “is set up to label every act of resistance, violent or nonviolent, as criminal” and the military court system is just another branch of an occupying army. “It is not about justice,” he said. “Its main objective is to curb any attempt of resistance and enhance the control over the population.”
Of course the military court thinks it is best for Ahed to learn not to resist. Resistance can be dangerous for you. This is something that Israel’s military occupation knows best.
Ahed’s next hearing is set for March 11th. Yet Attorney Lasky noted after the last hearing that she is still waiting to receive case material from the prosecutor. Meanwhile Ahed remains in prison. There’s time – the prosecution tailors are working. Patience.
The military prosecution is working hard to tailor a “just” case from its intrinsic corruption, but the thread has no substance, it is invisible. That’s why they have to close the court doors, just like in The Emperor’s New Clothes, until the final moment where they would present to the world the final sentence. Ahed might not get life in prison as Education Minister Bennett had suggested, but a villain they will no doubt attempt to make of her. And the Israelis who cannot accept the slap Ahed gave the soldier, they will go “oh”, and “ah”, “we knew there was something wrong with her”, they will totally see it.
But this case will have an ironic twist. Israel thinks it is tailoring the case for Ahed – but actually it is preparing transparent clothing for itself. Israel is the Emperor, and it will eventually go out in broad daylight, displaying its ridiculous oppression for the whole world to see.
And it will only take a little boy to finally shout: “But they haven’t got anything on”.
President Donald Trump’s declaration that the US would move its Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was met with global condemnation and warnings that it could lead to a violent escalation.
But another threat to Jerusalem’s status quo, though no less dangerous, has received little international attention by comparison: Right-wing Israeli activists gained significant ground in their goal to take over the al-Aqsa mosque compound in the last year.
The so-called Temple movement, which has backers in Israel’s parliament and religious establishment, seeks to increase the number of Jews visiting the al-Aqsa mosque compound, one of the holiest sites for Muslims.
Swelling numbers of Jewish visitors, the movement believes, will force the hand of the Israeli government to grant permission to Jews to pray there.
That would pave the way for the holy site, referred to as Temple Mount by Jews, to be divided between Jews and Muslims. That has been the reality at the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron, also in the occupied West Bank, ever since an American Jewish settler massacred 29 Palestinian worshippers there in 1994.
Temple movement activists ultimately seek the destruction of the Dome of the Rock, also housed in the mosque compound, and the construction of a Jewish temple in its place.
This final scenario may currently seem unrealistic, “but in recent months we have clearly witnessed that the police are progressively acting in tandem with those advancing precisely this goal,” warns Ir Amim, a nonprofit group which envisions Jerusalem as a capital shared by sovereign Israeli and Palestinian states.
Where Israeli police once proved a barrier to Temple movement efforts, these activists now find cooperation and encouragement.
More than 22,000 visits by Jews to the al-Aqsa mosque compound were recorded in late 2016 and the first three quarters of 2017, an increase of almost 60 percent from the 14,000 visits made one year prior.
An Israeli attorney “who has filed numerous petitions on behalf of Temple activists,” according to Ir Amim, recently stated that “Netanyahu will have to approve prayer for Jews on the Temple Mount when their number of ascents surpasses 100,000 a year. This means no more than 300 Jews on average each day.”
According to Ir Amim, many Jews visit the mosque compound “motivated by the idea that their visits signify participation in the ongoing campaign to alter the status quo.”
The group has observed “a radical shift between police officers and Temple movement activists.”
Police officers were once “careful not to demonstrate personal bias favoring political activists with whom they come into contact in the line of service.” But in recent months, Ir Amim states, officers “have frequently been photographed with members of the Temple movement in public displays of affection.”
The Jerusalem police district commander Yoram Halevy has been recorded on video embracing Temple mount activists and receiving a ritual blessing from an activist at an entrance to the compound.
Halevy threatened injuries and fatalities against Muslim worshippers after mass demonstrations were held in the streets of Jerusalem over new police restrictions at al-Aqsa mosque last July.
Five Palestinians were killed amid a crackdown on Jerusalem protests that month and three members of an Israeli family were fatally stabbed by a Palestinian assailant in a West Bank settlement.
Ir Amim also notes that Temple activists were distinguished guests at a farewell party near an entrance to the al-Aqsa mosque compound for a police commander upon the conclusion of his post at the site.
They were also “officially invited to the ceremony marking transfer of responsibilities” when the commander of the precinct encompassing the holy site completed his appointment.
“The outgoing commander went so far as to acknowledge them in his farewell speech,” according to Ir Amim.
Imagery of cooperation and affection between Temple movement activists and the police “serves to stoke the motivation of [Temple movement] supporters,” Ir Amim states.
Police have meanwhile looked the other way when Temple activists have violated a prohibition against Jewish worship at the al-Aqsa mosque compound or worn provocative T-shirts advocating the destruction of the Dome of the Rock.
Temple movement signage now hangs at the entrance to the Mughrabi bridge – the entry-point for non-Muslim visitors to the holy site after crossing a police checkpoint – as if the right-wing activists “had been granted official public status over the area.”
Police have allowed activists to hold religious classes at Mughrabi Gate, treated by the activists as an ad hoc yeshiva to train an army of worshippers once Jewish prayer at al-Aqsa is permitted.
Ir Amim points to Gilad Erdan – Israel’s strategic affairs minister who oversees a “black ops” program to combat the nonviolent boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) in support of Palestinian rights – as “the root of this provocative change in police conduct.” Erdan also holds the “internal security” portfolio in the Israeli government.
“During Erdan’s tenure, new officers have been appointed to sensitive positions relating to the Temple Mount,” according to Ir Amim.
“Temple activists report that the minister’s door is open to their representatives and that he is attentive to their concerns.”
Ir Amim notes that the Islamic Waqf endowment that administers the al-Aqsa mosque compound has responded to these changes to the status quo with caution.
“The combination of Minister Erdan’s desire to strengthen the Temple movements and the police perceiving that erosion of the status quo does not meet with strong Muslim protest may encourage the Israeli authorities to take more hazardous steps,” Ir Amim warns.
Such an erosion could lead to an escalation of violence, the group adds, “as it did in the summers of 2014 and 2015 when the cost of attempts to infringe upon Muslims’ freedom of worship … was bloodshed in Jerusalem.”
More than 250 Palestinians and 35 Israelis were killed in a year-long wave of protest and violence following unchecked Israeli assaults and incursions on the al-Aqsa mosque compound in September 2015.
Israeli forces have slain several more Palestinians, including children, during protests against Trump’s Jerusalem declaration.
The brutal force used by police against Palestinians protesting Israeli designs on Jerusalem is starkly contrasted by their leniency towards Jewish mobs who rampage through its Old City.
On Wednesday, Mustafa al-Mughrabi, a Palestinian resident of the Old City, was severely injured by a crowd of Israelis while they were exiting the al-Aqsa mosque compound.
Police “called the incident a fight,” the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.
Honenu, a legal aid organization that represents Israelis accused of harming Palestinians, claims that a group of Jews “were attacked by a number of Arab assailants and were forced to defend themselves.”
One of the group of Israelis was reportedly severely injured in his face.
Video shows a bloodied al-Mughrabi lying on the ground, his body convulsing:
Al-Mughrabi told the Ma’an News Agency that he was beaten after Israelis leaving al-Aqsa approached a group of his friends who were standing near the exit, and al-Mughrabi went up to them to see what was the matter.
He lost consciousness during the attack.
Video shows police escorting a large number of right-wing Israelis at the al-Aqsa compound earlier that day:
The evening before al-Mughrabi was attacked, construction began on a new major settlement project a short distance away from the al-Aqsa mosque compound.
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights stated that the building of the three-story religious study center falls under Israel’s “policy to make a Jewish majority in the city and change its character.”