With its different Palestinian factions, Gaza collectively consecrated the state of Palestinian consciousness of all Palestine and achieved its goal of breaking the prestige of Israel, despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim that it had become “a superpower, not just a regional power.” This new Palestinian awareness was achieved following the Israeli escalation and aggressive campaign against the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood (read below the entire story) inhabited by more than 38 Palestinian families threatened with eviction from their homes. Israel also savagely attacked al-Aqsa Mosque demonstrators.
The destiny of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood has become an international issue that raises global awareness and solidarity with the oppressed Palestinians. The Palestinian cause had been absent from the international arena following the Arab and Islamic countries’ normalizations and when [former US President] Donald Trump offered all of Jerusalem to Israel.
However, the battle in Gaza is not expected to stop soon because Israel is trying to restore the deterrent power it has lost due to the Palestinian missiles successfully fired from Gaza. Moreover, what is unusual is the uprising of the 1948 Arabs. After 72 years of coexistence, in the city of Lod in particular and in other Arab-Israeli mixed cities, they have proven that the new generation wants to regain their occupied territory, rejecting the unsuccessful Oslo and Camp David agreements.
The stormy development is not generated only from the field: Gaza’s rockets burn the ground under the feet of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). Abbas delayed the parliamentary and presidential elections that would inevitably lead to the loss of the presidency he has been holding on to since 2005. Israel of course believes that the current Palestinian president is its best partner because he has rejected armed resistance. Also, Abbas maintains security cooperation with Israel and prevents any possibility of the Palestinians living in the West Bank joining Gaza to confront both Israeli aggression and Israeli expansion.
It is highly plausible that Israel has also acted in its own interests by disrupting the Palestinian presidential elections that coincided with the illegal eviction of the Sheikh Jarrah families to prevent the Palestinians in Jerusalem from participating in the polls. The Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu is undoubtedly aware that attacking al-Aqsa and the inhabitants of Jerusalem is like lighting the fuse of a powder keg. The first and the second intifada were the best proof of these explosive possibilities.
Hamas, the “Islamic Jihad”, and all the other factions in Gaza Strip have succeeded in achieving unity with Jerusalem by defending it. Hamas did not start bombing Israeli settlements before giving Israel many hours to stop attacking the civilian population in Jerusalem. However, Tel Aviv insisted on its position and dragged everyone into the battle so that Benjamin Netanyahu would achieve his goals to postpone the Israeli electionsto save his political future. The Palestinian groups in Gaza bombed Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ashkelon, Ashdod with hundreds of rockets that reached not far from Haifa. The Israeli officials failed to anticipate the intensity of the Palestinian rocket response and the reaction to its abuse of power and bombing of Gaza. The various resistance groups proved their credibility with timing and intimidation. They gained more significant popularity among the Palestinian and the Arab populations supporting the cause and against the normalization with Israel.
Among the most critical goals that the Palestinians have achieved in Gaza was to demonstrate the failure of the Iron Dome to intercept all incoming domestically manufactured cheap rockets targeting Israeli areas. Gaza flooded the Israeli sophisticated interception systems when launching over 100 rockets simultaneously. Israel admitted that it could not stop the firing of rockets even though the Israeli army bombed dozens of targets. To harm the population, Israel bombed several civilian towers (al-Hanadi, al-Jawhara and al-Shorooq) in prestigious commercial and residential areas with the intention to turn the inhabitants against the Palestinian groups confronting Israel.
So far, at least 69 Palestinians lost their lives and 6 Israelis, including a military officer, were killed in the exchange of bombing. The Palestinian groups were able to launch more than 1,300 rockets. Embarrassing scenes appeared of members of the Israeli Knesset and the Minister of Defense fleeing to bomb shelters.
Not only has Israel lost its ability to deter, but also its prestige. In the 1940s, a Jewish terrorist group attacked British forces and blew up the King David Hotel in 1946, killing 91 people. The Irgun Group claimed responsibility for the attack, in which British officials of the British Empire, who ruled Palestine at the time, were killed. David Ben-Gurion, the founder of the so-called State of Israel, was asked at the time: “Will the Haganah gangs defeat Great Britain with this bombing?” He replied, “The aim is to break the prestige of the British Empire.” Gaza has broken the prestige of the Israeli myth.
The Story of Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood:
In the aftermath of the 1948 expulsion of Palestinians known as “Nakba,” around 750,000 Palestinians were forced to flee their homes to neighboring countries. Following these events, 28 families (today they are 38) families settled in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem [al-Quds] in 1956. They reached an agreement with the Jordanian Ministry of Construction and Development and the UN refugee agency UNRWA to provide housing for them in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. At that time, the West Bank was under Jordanian rule (1951-1967).
The Jordanian government provided the land while UNRWA covered the cost of constructing 28 homes for these families. It was agreed that the residents pay a symbolic fee, provided that ownership was transferred to the residents more than three years from the completion of construction.”
This, however, was interrupted by the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, including Jerusalem, in 1967, which prevented the registration of the houses under the names of families.
This month, Jordan’s Foreign Ministry said it had provided the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs with 14 ratified agreements meant for the people of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem, which support their claim of their lands and property.
In a statement, the Ministry said it handed over a certificate to the residents proving that the Jordanian Ministry of Construction and Development had agreed with UNRWA to establish 28 housing units in Sheikh Jarrah to be delegated and registered in the names of these families. The process, however, was interrupted as a result of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank in 1967. The Ministry had previously provided the Palestinian side with all the documents that could help Jerusalemites maintain their full rights, including lease contracts, lists of beneficiaries’ names, and a copy of the agreement concluded with UNRWA in 1954.
In 1972, the Sephardic Committee and the Knesset Committee of Israel claimed that they owned the land on which the houses were built in 1885, and asked the court to evict four families from their homes in the neighborhood, accusing them of land grab.
In 1982, the Israeli settlement associations filed an eviction case against 24 families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and 17 families assigned Israeli lawyer Tosia Cohen to defend them. The lawyer in 1991 signed an agreement, without the knowledge of the families, that the ownership of the land belonged to the settlement associations. The lawyer put Palestinian families under the threat of eviction if they failed to pay the rent to the settlement associations.
In 1997, Suleiman Darwish Hijazi, a resident, filed a lawsuit with the Israeli Central Court to prove his land ownership, using title deeds issued by the Ottoman Empire, brought from Turkey. The move, however, backfired when the court rejected the claim in 2005.
The court said the papers did not prove his land ownership, and Hijazi’s appeal in the following year was rejected. In November 2008, the al-Kurd family was evicted from their home, followed by the eviction of the Hanoun and al-Ghawi families in August 2009.
So far, 12 Palestinian families in the neighborhood have received eviction orders issued by the Israeli central and magistrates courts. Four Palestinian families filed a petition with the Supreme Court, Israel’s highest judicial body, against a decision to expel them from their homes. The Israeli Central Court in East Jerusalem [al-Quds] approved a decision earlier this year to evict four Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in favor of right-wing Israeli settlers.
In 1948, al-Sabbagh’s family fled their home in Jaffa, which Israelis now inhabit. Al-Sabbagh, a 32-member family, including ten children, is afraid that the court verdict will make him and his family refugees again.
By Elijah J Magnier
Magnier is a veteran war correspondent and a Senior Political Risk Analyst with decades of experience covering the West Asian region.