As we are entering the third week after the closure of Al Aqsa and installing the electric gates. Jerusalem is still holding tight with a resilience that is not far from the people of this city. The price is continuing to be high as clashes are not stopping and martyrs are increasing. But yet, the scene of people gathering for each prayer time in front the different gates of al Aqsa, despite what seems to be a real curfew on the old city gives a sense of strength that cannot be destroyed.
The last week proved that Israel’s only face is that face of brutal occupation. As the world ,and Israelis have been soothingly adjusting the occupation as a normal way of living, comparing their cruelty to the surrounding blood shed in the neighboring countries, Israel proved again and again that occupation cannot be beautiful or adjustable to a coexistence based on coercion, killing, stealing, manipulation and continuous injustice.
In the last week, we witnessed murder and blood shed in the streets with brutal force and shootings. The image of the massively armored troops from all kinds throughout the streets of the city and in every corner of its roads and allies, and only reflect the brutality and weakness. When you look into these heavily armed young soldiers locked in steel protections with their weapons directed to shoot anyone who makes them feel worried, you only understand that force will never bring peace.
The whole resemblance of people trying to pray versus a massive army machinery and force trying to stop people proves the meaning of lewd acts of a colonial occupation.
As people may wonder, why would we refuse the gates, after all, there are gates at the entrance of the Buraq \wailing wall? The answer is simple. We have sovereignty over this area, and Israel cannot use its gates to decide how we enter. It is like getting to your house one day, and you find such a gate at your door. We did not want and did not ask for this kind of “protection.” Then, one would argue, but look at what happened last week when the three people were killed, and the police were also killed. The answer is also simple, or maybe a question, the accident happened in Bab Hutta Gate, why would the electronic gates be there. Why are they only on three other gates. If the situation is so grave and dangerous why not use all the gates. What we have is, an accident taking in one place, and precautions taken in another . of course all the gates are currently closed.
What we know for a fact, and this does not need any smart person to analyze. This is a living experience. We do not want to see Jerusalem becoming another Hebron. Which means segregation that takes place from the entrance of the city until the mosque itself that was split between Muslims and Jews, not to mention that the latest UNESCO resolution announced that the Abrahamic Mosque is a sole property to Muslim Waqf, as much as Jerusalem’s Al Qsa Compound and the Buraq Wall which is the western wall of Al Aqsa. The fact that Jews are allowed to pray there does not give them ownership of it. But since Israel has been surviving on bloodshed and coercion, the whole area of the western wall that included the Moghrabi quarter was seized after the demolition and erasure of an entire neighborhood in June 1967. Israel believes that it can create a new status quo for the city that enables it to enforce a “deal” of peace where facts forced on the ground will be de facto.
What Israel does not get is that we belong to this land. It is not a matter of a place to live. It is an issue of belonging. This land is part of who we are; we were not implanted here. Our roots are so deep in this earth it is not that we are trying just to make a living.
Of course, it is hard for a colonial perspective to see that. We are ready to die for this place, not because we so attached to religion. Many are, but in many ways, religion is part of peoples identity, and it is part of a sense of belonging to something.It is precisely like waking up one day and finding a stranger sharing your bed, and this stranger starts putting rules on how you should lie, and later this stranger kicks you outside your house claiming it became his.
Our fight today on al Aqsa’s sovereignty is a fight for our survival. As much as we respect Jews for their autonomy on their religious places, this should not be even negotiable.
I do find it humiliating each time an Israeli police asking me if I am a Muslim and demands prove to show this. I do not need permission when I want to visit my mosque. It is simple.
We are aware of what is taking place in the distortion of history and reality under grounds. Whatever is happening on the field in the political levels is beyond our consensus as people. But al Aqsa, as much as any other holy place represents a form of identity, dignity; it is what is left for us to connect with on this land. They cannot simply get in and claim authority on what is not theirs.
And Israelis can live usually and conveniently with such barriers, but we don’t have to. Their fear is a fear of thieves. We don’t have to be afraid in accessing our properties. They terrorize us yes. But our connection to this place is further deeper than their colonial aspirations.
Jerusalem is not a place to live in our minds. Jerusalem is a place to be … This is a difference a colonial regime cannot grasp or get to understand.