Veteran Palestinian journalist Abdel Bari Atwan says Benjamin Netanyahu has launched assaults on Masjid Al Aqsa in a bid to overcome his domestic difficulties, but he is playing with fire by attacking the third holiest site in Islam.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the hawks in his fascist government are looking for a war to help them overcome their domestic crises and international isolation.
That is why they gave the green light to their army and security forces to storm the Al Aqsa Mosque compound, assault the people keeping vigil there, force them to leave, and arrest 400 of them to clear the way for an invasion by settlers celebrating Passover.
Netanyahu will doubtless get what he is looking for, but he will pay a very high price. Perhaps higher than in the May 2021 “Sword of Jerusalem” campaign when thousands of missiles came hurtling down on Tel Aviv and the settlements near Gaza, sending millions of settlers into shelters, closing down Israel’s airports, and cutting it off from the outside world for the first time since the Nakba.
The initial Palestinian response to the storming of Al Aqsa was swift. Twenty missiles were fired from the Gaza Strip at the settlement of Sderot, hitting factories and causing considerable material damage. The much-lauded “Iron Domes” failed to intercept them.
But those 20 missiles were merely a warning, according to the Palestinians. They said Jerusalem is a red line, and assaulting worshippers and defiling sacred places during the holy month of Ramadan is a crime than cannot go unpunished.
So Netanyahu is playing with fire, and could end up burning not just his fingers but himself and his government.
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In May 2021 he went begging to U.S. President Joe Biden to intercede with Egypt to broker a halt to hostilities. If another battle breaks out for the same reason (settler invasions of Al Aqsa), which is more than likely with Passover approaching, it will be much harder to stop. It could turn into a broader regional conflagration in which thousands of missiles rain down on Israel and its settlers, whether from Gaza or other unexpected fronts.
We have spoken to large numbers of people from all walks of life in Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the 1948 areas. They were virtually unanimous about their determination to give their all to defend Al Aqsa and liberate the land of Palestine.
They say the days when Israeli warplanes could bomb the Palestinian people without retaliation are over. So are the days when they could seek salvation from Arab governments or their submissive “Arab League.”
The Israelis will have to rely solely on themselves and their fighting brigades that have made their occupation more costly, deprived its settlers of security and stability, and spurred a big wave of capital flight and reverse migration.
So the days and weeks to come could be marked by retaliatory Palestinian missile strikes and targeted operations. And they may not be confined to the Occupied Territories. The pressure has been mounting inexorably and is close to the point of explosion, with Netanyahu and his gang of fascists lighting the fuse.
This article was first published in Raialyoum.