The clashes in Palestine escalate

October 15, 2015

A steady drumbeat of mainstream news coverage portrays Israeli Jews as the chief victims of violence--while Israeli security forces and right-wing settler mobs mete out obscene levels of brutality. In an article published in the Australian socialist newspaper Red Flag, Kim Bullimore reports on the latest developments in the ongoing confrontation between the apartheid state and Palestinian protesters.

PALESTINIAN YOUTH and the Israeli military have clashed repeatedly in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Violence has also spread to Gaza.

Since October 3, 21 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces. Nearly all of those killed have been 20 years old or younger, including five children aged 11 to 17 years. Up to 1,600 have been injured.

Israeli forces opened fire on unarmed demonstrators near Khan Yunis in Gaza on October 9, killing seven Palestinians and injuring 145. On the same day, more than 400 were injured in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Another seven Palestinians were killed on October 10, including two children.

According to the humanitarian organization Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS), in the six days between October 3 and 9, at least 151 Palestinians were injured by live ammunition and 255 by rubber-coated steel bullets. Twenty-one were injured as a result of beatings by Israeli settlers and soldiers, while 741 were affected by tear gas inhalation.

The Red Crescent declared a state of emergency on October 4, denouncing ongoing attacks on its staff by the Israeli military and Israeli colonists. According to the organization, "14 attacks were carried out against its staff and vehicles by occupation forces and settlers in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the past 72 hours, in a serious escalation of violations against PRCS, its teams and the humanitarian services they render."

Israeli settlers, protected by IDF soldiers, attack a Palestinian woman
Israeli settlers, protected by IDF soldiers, attack a Palestinian woman

Since the beginning of the month, four Israelis, including two settlers, have been killed. Another 10 Israelis, including police and settlers, were injured in stabbing incidents in the past week.

The increasing violence comes in the wake of continued and deliberate provocation by Israel. Since September 13, Israeli forces have repeatedly stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, attacking worshippers and causing damage to the holy site.

Known in Arabic as Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary) and in Hebrew as Har HaBayit (the Temple Mount), the site is considered to be the third holiest place in Islam and the holiest in Judaism.

The primary purpose of the Israeli assaults on the compound has been to facilitate access for Israeli settlers and extremists from the Temple Mount movement, including Israel's agriculture minister, Uri Ariel. The Temple Mount movement has repeatedly called for the destruction of the Muslim holy site and the construction of a Jewish temple in its place.

After the repeated storming of al-Aqsa, two Israeli settlers were killed in a drive-by shooting near Nablus on October 1. In response, illegal settlers rampaged throughout the occupied West Bank, carrying out revenge attacks. The Israeli military did little to stop these.

According to the Palestinian Liberation Organization's Negotiations Affairs Department, between October 1 and 7, Israeli colonists carried out 122 attacks on Palestinians. Now, as settler attacks continue, another two Israelis have been killed in a stabbing attack in East Jerusalem.

The Palestinian Authority Committee for Prisoners' Affairs has announced that more than 650 Palestinians, primarily youth, have been arrested by Israel since the beginning of October. According to the committee, most were detained during clashes with Israeli soldiers or had been arrested in raids.

Those who had been detained reported that they had been held, in some cases, for 16 hours or more--during which time they had been beaten and tortured. Many had also been denied medical attention, despite having serious injuries.

Clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters have also broken out inside Israel. Palestinian youth have demonstrated in Nazareth, Afula, Ramle and a number of other cities.

Several thousand took to the streets in Nazareth in solidarity with their brethren in the occupied Palestinian territories, calling for an end to Israel's occupation and for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

First published in Red Flag.

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