Jerusalem City: What Really Happened During Last Days of April 2021, the Role of Turkey and of UAE and the elections of May 22...


Located in Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa Mosque, is considered to be one of the holiest places of the city. Few days ago, during end of April 2021, the mosque became a field of violence against worshippers, who were attacked by Israeli police forces. 

The place there, especially during Ramadan period, is traditionally known as a boiling piece of land, between Arabs and Orthodox Jews. Last year, due to the strict lockdown, imposed by the Israeli government, there were no violent incidents. But after the successful management of the pandemic by Israeli officials, the situation didn't need more to explode once again.

What is really not known at all, by the people who discuss this nowadays, is how it all started, and how incompetence and the role of social media and TV networks, both in Israeli and Palestinian channels, played a role in this tension.

Just few days before the violent episodes started, the Palestinian TV network payed attention and showed often, the heated discussion that took place between Israeli policemen and some young Arab residents of the city, who after their pilgrimage in the mosque, they went out and sat on the scales of the Damascus Arch (a tradition that takes place there from generation to generation). Noone will be able, to ever know the reason behind this argument, but this heated dialogue between them, led the Israeli police to put fences around the Damascus Arch, a move that is not only showing incompetence by Israeli side, but it is also clearly, leading to tension.

This incident, together with many videos that showed young Arabs attacking ultra orthodox Jews really violently and on the other hand videos showing the exact opposite, Israeli forces attacking brutally Arab residents, became the motives, behind two major demonstrations, that took place around the Damascus Arch. The first one was a demonstration initiated by young Arabs, and the second one, by a Jewish organization "Leava).

The really schocking part in this situation, is the fact that the Israeli network, never showed the fences that were put around the Arch, and the people in Israel never knew about them, or the cause of this tension. Same the Palestinian network, while transmitting the videos of Arabs being attacked, they supported that the violent videos created by young Arabs against same aged Orthodox Jews, were only jokes. When 2 different TV networks show completely different things, this is a way to understand how manipulative messages can easily create misunderstandings. Ofcourse, the tension between Palestinians and Israelis does not need excuses, or motives. It is there. And it has never been unsolved. But it is not a bad idea to have a look a closer one, to those who have a profit from taking advantage of this tension. 

First of all the Israeli government acted completely wrong, showing not only incompetence, but by also pulling the trigger. Raising fences around the Damascus Arch, was by itself, a very aggressive incident! And the reason for this, was a heated discussion as mentioned above, between Israeli police officers and young Arabs sitting on the scales out of the mosque.

This new exploding situation, which consequently led the organisation of Hamas, to attack Israel, is taking place inside a very unique scenery. For the first time after 15 years, the Palestinian officials based in Ramala, decided to have elections for Palestinians on May 22. What is the current Palestinian authority (Fatah), really afraid of, is the growing popularity of Hamas. And for this reason, Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinians, as he expressed some days ago he would do, in case his demands were not respected, he proceeded to cancelling the elections. But what was his demand? I would call his demand a pretext, and not a real demand ofcourse! His request, was that in the forthcoming elections of May 22, the Arab residents of Jerusalem should have the right to also vote. Ofcourse as we all know from the beginning of such an argument, the Israeli government would never accept this, and Abbas knew it from start!

But the reason Mahmoud Abbas insisted on this topic, was because this way, the profile of Fatah, officially leading Palestinian force at the moment, came out to people as a competent and revolutionary one, antagonising somehow Hamas's popularity. On the other hand, Hamas, informed that in case of cancelling elections an explosive situation would become reality again. What in real President Mahmoud Abbas is afraid of, is the fact that Hamas might take over.

And how is Israel taking advantage of this? Ofcourse, by having so many motives to fight against Hamas, the Israeli government hits surgically, military targets of the organisation in Gaza. By doing this, Israel is actually pushing Fatah and President Mahmoud Abbas, by making them even more vulnerable to Israeli wishes, as they know for sure, that the Palestinian authorities are really afraid of the rising power of Hamas, which becomes even stronger, after Israel attacks the organisation militarily in Gaza.

The worrying factor in all this situation, is that Turkey, who is responsible for arming Hamas, as it became widely known, gets in the game, by wishing to become the "mother of Arabs", when it isn't even an Arab country. This is the reason why they came closer to Hamas and many  Muslim Brotherhoods, as a means to unite the Arab countries against Israel. And in same time, while the relations between Turkey and the United Arab Emirates become less tensed, Turkey cooperates in this project with an Arab country...

On the other hand, the intentions of the United Arab Emirates, a country that expresses opinions on the situation with real diplomacy, remain to be seen, as their appearance might mean a new player in this war agenda... 

                                                                              written by Themis Panagiotopoulou, PhD in Political Science

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