The Occupation Didn't Take a Break for Rosh Hashanah

By Leanne Gale

I approached Rosh Hashanah this year with an almost dogged determination to close my eyes, briefly, to the world around me. I wanted to breathe in the sea breeze by my parents’ house, catch up with loved ones, and enjoy the taste of apples and honey on my tongue. But the occupation doesn’t take a break for the Jewish holidays. This year, in fact, it mostly got worse. Here’s a roundup of the violence we missed while we were in shul.

1. Israeli settlers in Silwan took possession of a building and harassed a Palestinian child in the neighborhood. When Palestinian adults attempted to defend their little ones, the settlers sprayed them with pepper spray. Israeli forces were called to the scene, and clashes ensued. 13 Palestinians were injured, mostly from pepper spray and tear gas inhalation, and 4 Israeli police officers were injured as well.

2. Since then, several Palestinian children in Silwan have been detained under suspicion of throwing stones, including Mohammad Ramadan and Ahmad Tawil, pictured below. 

3.  In order to accommodate Jewish holiday worshippers, the Israeli authorities imposed dramatic restrictions on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif and the Old City. Palestinian children were prevented from attending elementary schools in the Haram al-Sharif compound, and Israeli border police shut down the Via Dolorosa, throwing stun grenades at Palestinians who remained beyond the checkpoint.

4.  Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque, shooting stun grenades into the Muslim holy site. Centuries old woodwork, windows, and doors were damaged in the clashes. The Israeli police spokeswoman said the clashes began on Sunday, when security forces sought to secure the area for foreign visitors and Israeli Jews.

#القدس:مواجهات عنيفة داخل المسجد القبلي، و ابعاد جميع حراس #المسجد_الاقصى الى باب السلسلة، و انباء عن عشرات الاصابات....

Posted by ‎القدس - alquds‎ on Saturday, September 12, 2015

5. Many Palestinians were wounded in the ongoing clashes in the Haram al-Sharif compound. Israeli forces used stun grenades, tear gas, and rubber-coated steel bullets. One boy, Anas Siyam, was evacuated to the hospital after he was shot in the chest with a rubber-coated steel bullet. An elderly man was shot in the eye with a rubber-coated steel bullet. 

6.  Twelve Palestinian journalists say they were beaten by Israeli police in Jerusalem's Old City throughout the escalating violence. 

7. Following the clashes on Sunday, Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel visited the site. In turn, Jordan's King Abduallah warned, "Any more provocations in Jerusalem, will affect the relationship between Jordan and Israel; and Jordan will have no choice, but to take action, unfortunately."

*Context: Since Tisha B’Av (July 25), when similar clashes took place, Israel has taken several inflammatory steps to change the status quo on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif. The Israeli government outlawed the Murabitun and Murabitat Islamist activists, who shout at Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount. (The increased presence of Jewish settler tours on the Temple Mount have not been similarly condemned, much less outlawed.) Israeli authorities have also increased increased age, time, and gender restrictions on Muslim worshippers. Many observers perceive this as an Israeli attempt to impose further control over the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif. I agree. 

8. A Palestinian woman threw water at two settler children walking through the Old City of Jerusalem. In response, here’s what happened. 

#فيديو | اعتداء مستوطن وأحد جنود الاحتلال على سيدة فلسطينية يوم أمس في #القدس القديمة.#المسجد_الأقصى #لن_يقسم

Posted by ‎شبكة قدس الإخبارية‎ on Monday, September 14, 2015

9.  Alexander Levlovitz (64), a Jewish Israeli, was killed after Palestinian assailants threw stones at his car in East Jerusalem. May his memory be for a blessing.

10. Following an emergency meeting of the cabinet and security chiefs, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to crackdown using “all necessary means” on stone throwers. The government will establish mandatory minimum penalties for stone-throwers as well as those who throw fire-bombs and explosives. It will also introduce heavy fines for parents of youth involved in any of these activities. Less than a day later, Netanyahu asked the Israeli Attorney General to authorize sniper fire (sniper fire!) against Palestinian stone-throwers in Jerusalem, aligning with the more "permissive West Bank regulations."

Special Bonus:  Fans of the Maccabi Tel Aviv soccer team unfurled this banner at a local match. And I quote, “The Maccabi Tel Aviv Fanatics fan group has announced it was against the donations [to support Syrian refugees], saying that a better cause would be to support Israel's poor on the eve of the Jewish New Year.”


The words Shana Tova – a happy new year – ring hollow in my mouth.