Friday, October 19, 2018

Palestinians prevented from protesting Jerusalem day celebrations

Juicebox Gallery

By Lil Jackson - May 29, 2014
TAGS:
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Jerusalem] [Israeli border police] [Jerusalem municipality]

Photography by Dylan Collins.

Jewish Israelis marched to the Old City of Jerusalem yesterday in celebration of Jerusalem Day, marking the annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967. Counter rallies by Palestinians of East Jerusalem were suppressed with the use of horses, sound grenades and a heavy military presence.

For the Palestinians of East Jerusalem, the day is a painful reminder of the seizure of their city, the ever-present threat of increasing judaisation of the area and the ongoing occupation of their land. East Jerusalem remains the social, economic and cultural epicenter for the Palestinian community. According to The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, there are approximately 371, 844 Palestinians in East Jerusalem, comprising 39 per cent of the overall population of Jerusalem.  

Palestine Monitor spoke to Yara Yaish, 25, a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem, about the violent and aggressive tactics Israeli Border Police used to disperse Palestinians who wished to stage a counter rally. “They should abide by the Geneva Convention and they are violating all of it,” said Yaish. Israel’s adherence to the Geneva Convention, or lack of, is contentious. The Geneva Convention signed by Israel in 1951, is an international treaty that governs the treatment of civilians during wartime and those living in territories under occupation. 

Israeli Border Police used aggressive and often unnecessary behavior from the outset of yesterday’s Palestinian counter rally. Clashes took place in the Al- Aqsa compound in the morning after Palestinians threw stones at a police units. Four Palestinians were injured after they were hit by rubber bullets.

A counter rally took place at Damascus Gate in the afternoon. Nine Palestinians were detained and three injured. Unwilling to let press or protestors gather in one area, horses and sound grenades were used to disperse Palestinians and members of the press away from Damascus gate and the Old City--the destination for those participating in the Jerusalem Day celebrations. 

“They are proving they are above international law,” said Yara Yaish. Her point was driven home when, later in the day, settlers participating in the Jerusalem Day parade attempted to attack Palestinian members of the International Red Crescent, who were wearing luminous waistcoats designed to make their purpose at the rally clear to onlookers and participants. Article 24 of the Geneva Convention states that “Medical Personnel exclusively engaged in the search for, or the collection, transport or treatment of the wounded or sick….shall be respected and protected in all circumstances.”

As with previous years, Israeli Police forcefully advised merchants in the Old City’s Muslim Quarter to close their shops before the march entered the Old City. The request, once again, brings to light the presence of Israeli extremists who intimidate Muslim shop owners, so much so that when asked to comment about Jerusalem day, many declined in fear of retribution for speaking out against the occupation.

This year, Jerusalem Day comes at a time of heightened sensitivity in the area. Celebrations took place in conjunction with Israel’s authorization of plans for 50 new settler homes in Har Homa, situated in southern East Jerusalem and considered illegal under international law. East Jerusalem is internationally recognized as the future capital for any viable Palestinian state. It is the first such announcement after the collapse of last months peace talks. During the nine months of negotiations, beginning in July 2013, Israel approved plans for 14,000 new settler homes. The PLO has said it will not return to the negotiating table without a complete freeze on settlement construction.

Further to this, from the outset, both the international community and international law, have never formally recognized Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem as valid.

One only has to look at the way in which Israeli military segregated Palestinian protesters from right wing Jewish marchers to understand the dichotomy at play here. A day of celebration for those who believe in the right of Israeli Jews to annex East Jerusalem and the 300,000 Palestinians of East Jerusalem who experience social, political and economic hardship as a direct result of this belief. 

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