Israeli Update by Liza Yedwab, JFMD Israel Office

How It All Began

When thinking about the reasoning behind what is going on, it turns out that it is a combination of a number of complicated events.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) had been planning elections this year after 15 years of no elections. It was evident to the PA that Hamas would most likely win, so elections were cancelled. Israel was blamed for the cancelation of elections causing tension amongst the Palestinian Hamas supporters in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Regarding the events in Jerusalem — Sheikh Jarrah is a neighborhood in Jerusalem where both Jews and Palestinians are claiming legal rights to the land in Israeli courts. Recently, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled in favor of the older Jewish claims and ordered the evacuation of the Arabs from the property. This led to rioting in Jerusalem.

Thirdly, last week saw the end of Ramadan, the holy Muslim month, which has often been a volatile time; the Temple Mount, Al Aksa Mosque, was a site of rioting. 

The first Hamas rocket attacks took place on Jerusalem Day, when many Israelis, from all over the country, converge on Jerusalem; parading in the streets of Jerusalem while singing, dancing and waving Israeli flags. For the Arabs, this is a bitter reminder and a time of mourning of Jerusalem becoming a unified city as a result of the Six Day War in 1967.

The Israeli military received the green light from the government to retaliate against Hamas forces in the Gaza strip and initiated a military strike named Operation Guardian of the Walls.

One of the most painful developments of the recent tensions is the civic unrest and rioting between Israeli Jews and Israeli Arab citizens (making up 20% of Israel’s population) in cities where Jews and Arabs live side by side — Lod, Jaffa, Akko, Haifa and Jerusalem. Until last week, most Israelis believed that co-existence was a reality and even a coalition government was in the process of being formed, including an Arab party and a right of center Jewish nationalist party.

Despite this most difficult period, there is some window of hope — there are increasing cases of solidarity and co-existence rallies and programming of Israeli Jews and Arabs who aspire to coexist in peace and aim to eliminate any future scenes of violence between Jews and Arabs.
Hoping that this ends as quickly as it erupted — Israeli Jews and Arabs standing together.

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