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Jerusalem, the eternal focus of tension


Two attacks by local Palestinians highlight the city's explosive potential and Israel's difficulties in preventing them

In 1967, shortly after Israel captured East Jerusalem - and other territories - in the Six Day War, two journalists interviewed Uzi Narkiss, the general who led the capture of the old city and who appears there in a famous photo with Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and Chief of Staff Isaac Rabin.

When asked how long it would take for a Palestinian revolt over the occupation of his territory to break out, he replied: “I was an Israeli military attaché in Paris during the National Liberation Front revolt against French rule in Algeria.

You cannot compare the Arabs of Jerusalem and the West Bank with the Algerian Arabs.

There will be no armed resistance here," recalled one of the journalists, Uzi Benziman, in 2017.

A few weeks after the interview,

three Palestinians left a bag bomb under the seat of a popular cinema in the city.

A policeman managed to get it out before it exploded.

Last week, 56 years later, two Palestinians from East Jerusalem carried out attacks against Israelis, in both cases in the occupied part of the city.

The first, on Friday in the Neve Yaacov settlement, was the deadliest in the municipal area since 2008. It killed seven people when it opened fire at point-blank range near a synagogue.

The second, a day later in Silwán, was the work of a 13-year-old teenager, who wounded two, also with a gun.

Burial of Rafael Ben Eliyahu, one of the fatalities of the attack last Friday, this Sunday in a Jerusalem cemetery. RONEN ZVULUN (REUTERS)

“Jerusalem is the microcosm of the entire Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Everything begins and ends in Jerusalem […].

The tension is experienced daily and, from time to time, it explodes," Meir Margalit, a former city councilor for the left-wing pacifist Meretz party, author of the book

Jerusalem, the impossible city

(Waterfall) and today a professor at the center , said by phone.

academic ONO.

That "impossible" refers to the fact that Jerusalem is a "non-city" because "it lacks the lowest common denominator between the Jewish and Palestinian populations, which are two planets that travel on different paths."

In the Israeli political vocabulary there are words that rhyme with violence.

Such as Gaza, the territory controlled since 2007 by the Islamist Hamas movement, or Jenin, the stronghold of armed youth in the West Bank where the Israeli army killed 10 Palestinians (at least two of them civilians) in the raid that triggered the current escalation of violence, Thursday.

On the other hand, Jerusalem is the "sole, eternal and indivisible" capital of Israel (although almost no country recognizes it as such) and the vast majority of its 350,000 Palestinian inhabitants (40% of the population) can work and move freely around the world. country.

With permanent resident status (more than 90% refuse to ask for Israeli nationality), they live mainly in the occupied eastern part of the city, which Israel annexed in 1980 and in which about 220.

000 Jews reside in residential settlements: illegal, under international law;

“neighborhoods”, in the official slang of the country.


One of the many paradoxes of the city is that the political dimension clashes with that of security, as became clear last week.

In 1967, the Israeli authorities expanded the municipal area from six square kilometers to 76, absorbing dozens of West Bank towns.

The initial proposal for expansion was greater, but in the end the logic of reducing the territory prevailed so as not to have to absorb another 30,000 Palestinians.

The then 70,000 Palestinians in that “new Jerusalem” are today 350,000 and, at the current demographic rate, they will grow to surpass the Jewish majority in 2045.

The vast majority are outside the separation wall that Israel began to build in 2002 and military checkpoints, so advance notice from intelligence services is almost the only thing that can prevent anyone with a weapon and the will to of using it, I ended up doing it.

Something particularly difficult in the case of the so-called

lone wolves


“As has happened many times before, these two attacks are expected to be followed by a wave of copycat attempts.

The atmosphere in Jerusalem was already tense, given the relatively large number of incidents between Palestinians and the police, the controversy over activities on the Temple Mount and the general feeling that this may be the source of another outbreak ahead of March. and April, when Ramadan and Pesach will begin and overlap”, the Muslim holy month and the Jewish holiday of Passover, Amos Harel, a commentator on defense affairs in the

Haaretz newspaper, pointed out this Saturday in an analysis.

Amnón Ramon, a


researcher at the Jerusalem Institute, believes that "rather than asking why this week happened, one should be surprised that there are moments of calm in Jerusalem."

And he insists that "you cannot separate what happens in the city from what happens in the West Bank", as evidenced by the shock wave of the raid in Jenin.

Its Palestinian inhabitants, he adds, "see themselves as defenders" of the Esplanade of Mosques, whose religious importance is mixed with identity.

Videos of Jews praying in the place, a violation of the informal

status quo

, are becoming more frequent and the controversial Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben Gvir, visited it on the 3rd.

Jerusalem has been at the base of major outbreaks of violence.

The Second Intifada was born in 2000 from a visit by Ariel Sharon to the Esplanade, which Jews call the Temple Mount and whose only vestige, the Wailing Wall, is its holiest site.

Very few attackers came from East Jerusalem then, but many did in what was dubbed the Intifada of the Knives (2015-2016), a wave of individual attacks ―amplified by social networks― that was born precisely out of fear that the

status quo

of the Esplanade was altered.

Although their situation is better than that of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, they are subjected to discriminatory practices, home demolitions, ultra-nationalist settler groups, and neglect of infrastructure and public services.

“They have the worst of both worlds: full obligations to the City (in terms of taxes and fines), but very limited services,” the

think tank

International Crisis Group says in a report.

They can vote in the municipal elections, but the majority boycott them.

Some, because they consider them a legitimization of the occupation;

others, for not being pointed out as traitors in their neighborhoods.

Hamas, moreover, has been gaining ground in the city.

Three Palestinian girls, on the rubble of a house demolished by Israeli bulldozers in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal Mukaber, this Sunday. AHMAD GHARABLI (AFP)

They are also banned from all political activity and cannot fly Palestinian flags.

Last month, the police went so far as to persecute some young people when they were celebrating the passage of the Moroccan team to the semifinals of the World Cup for interpreting the slogans they uttered as political.

This month, however, Yonatan Yossef, a far-right city councilor, passed through one of the most explosive spots, Sheikh Yarraj, chanting through a loudspeaker: "We want a





(catastrophe, in Arabic) is the expulsion or flight of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians (two thirds of those who lived in the area) in the 1948 war, following the creation of the State of Israel, and a particularly sensitive.

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2023-01-30

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