“. . . Peace has two parents: Freedom and Justice. And occupation is the natural begetter of violence . . .” (Mahmoud Darwish)

❶ Islamic Waqf says decision not to enter Al-Aqsa through metal gates final
. . . . . ❶ ― (ᴀ) Israeli police injure dozens of worshipers denouncing security measures at Al-Aqsa
. . . . . ❶ ― (ᴃ) Rally in Rabat [Morocco] in support of al-Aqsa
❷ Opinion/Analysis: Aqsa shooting attack: Security blow to Israeli occupation
❸ A letter from Mahmoud Darwish
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Palestine News and Information Agency – WAFA      
July 18, 2017.   The Islamic Waqf (Endowment), which is in charge of Al-Aqsa Mosque, said Tuesday it was adamant about its decision not to encourage Muslim worshippers to enter the holy compound passing through the newly installed metal detectors.
___General Director of the Jordanian-run Islamic Waqf, Azzam Khatib, said during a sit-in for Waqf officials and staff outside Bab al-Majlis (Al-Nather), one of the gates to Al-Aqsa compound, that Muslim worshipers should not accept the new Israeli police measures for entering the Muslim holy place.
___Police installed on Sunday metal detectors outside two gates to Al-Aqsa Mosque and prevented worshippers from entering the mosque without going through them. Muslims have rejected the Israeli measures and have been holding the daily prayer ritual outside the gates causing tension with the police that often end up with clashes.     MORE . . .    
Ma’an News Agency  
July 18, 2017.  Dozens of Palestinians were injured on Monday evening when Israeli forces violently dispersed Muslim worshipers who were performing the night-time Isha prayer in the streets outside of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound to express their opposition to increased Israeli security measures at the holy site following a deadly attack in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City.
[. . . . ] The Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance service told Ma’an that its paramedics had treated more than 50 people who were injured by Israeli forces at Lions’ Gate.
___The Red Crescent said 16 Palestinians were hit with rubber-coated steel bullets, nine were wounded by shrapnel from stun grenades, and 25 sustained bruises after being beaten and kicked by Israeli forces.         MORE . . .   
. . . . . ❶ ― (ᴃ) RALLY  IN  RABAT  [MOROCCO]  IN  SUPPORT  OF  AL-AQSA    
The Palestinian Information Center   
July 18, 2017.   Hundreds took part in a large demonstration held on Monday in the streets of the Moroccan capital in support of al-Aqsa Mosque and in protest against Israeli unprecedented restrictions against the third holiest site in Islam.
___The protesters chanted slogans calling for an end to “Israeli attacks on al-Aqsa and Israeli settlement expansion.”
___They also demanded a ban to all forms of normalization with Israel.     MORE . . .      

The Palestinian Information Center 
July 15, 2017.   With the Friday morning breeze, one hour after the dawn prayer at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Occupied Jerusalem, and as Muslim worshipers were reading the Quran, Palestinians were surprised by three young men carrying out a shooting attack at the courtyards of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
[. . . .] Hamza Abu Shanab, an expert on Israeli affairs and a political analyst explained that the operation in Jerusalem constituted a qualitative shift in the resistance attacks, in terms of timing and place of implementation, noting that it emphasized the unity of the land and the Palestinian people geographically and in all places of existence.
___Abu Shanab said that the timing of the operation and its location dealt a security blow to the Israeli security apparatuses and army, especially in light of the procedures taken against Muslim worshipers at Al-Aqsa Mosque.       MORE . . . 

The Electronic Intifada
17 July 2017

  • The renowned Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish was the first writer that the Palestine Festival of Literature approached with a request to be a Founding Patron. He accepted. He was due to speak at PalFest’s inaugural event in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah in May 2008 but medical reasons prevented him from attending. He sent a letter instead. Darwish passed away three months later in August.     [. . . .] Darwish’s letter appears online here for the first time.

[. . . .]   We are now in the 60th year of the Nakba. There are now those who are dancing on the graves of our dead, and who consider our Nakba their festival. But the Nakba is not a memory; it is an ongoing uprooting, filling Palestinians with dread for their very existence. The Nakba continues because the occupation continues. And the continued occupation means a continued war. This war that Israel wages against us is not a war to defend its existence, but a war to obliterate ours.
___The conflict is not between two “existences,” as the Israeli discourse claims. The Arabs have unanimously offered Israel a collective peace proposal in return for Israel’s recognition of the Palestinians’ right to an independent state. But Israel refuses.
[. . . .]  Life here, as you see, is not a given, it’s a daily miracle. Military barriers separate everything from everything. And everything – even the landscape – is temporary and vulnerable. Life here is less than life, it is an approaching death. And how ironic that the stepping up of oppression, of closures, of settlement expansion, of daily killings that have become routine – that all this takes place in the context of what is called the “peace process;” a process revolving in an empty circle, threatening to kill the very idea of peace in our suffering hearts.
___Peace has two parents: Freedom and Justice. And occupation is the natural begetter of violence. Here, on this slice of historic Palestine, two generations of Palestinians have been born and raised under occupation. They have never known another – normal – life. Their memories are filled with images of hell. They see their tomorrows slipping out of their reach. And though it seems to them that everything outside this reality is heaven, yet they do not want to go to that heaven. They stay, because they are afflicted with hope.    THE LETTER IN FULL . . . 

“. . . What should I do with the fence of fire . . .” (Samih Al-Qasim)

❶ Palestinians fear Al-Aqsa closure following attack could affect status quo at holy site

  • Background: “The Druze in Israel: Questions of Identity, Citizenship, and Patriotism.” Middle East Journal.

. . . . . ❶ ― (ᴀ) YESTERDAY’S EVENT:  3 Palestinian citizens of Israel, 2 police officers killed in Jerusalem shooting
. . . . . ❶ ― (ᴃ) RELATED: Israeli plan for minorities slammed as bid to ‘divide and conquer’
❷ 18-year-old Palestinian killed during Israeli raid in al-Duheisha refugee camp

  • POETRY by Samih Al-Qasim

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Ma’an News Agency
July 14, 2017.  Following a deadly shooting attack in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem on Friday that left two Israeli police officers and three Palestinians dead, Israeli forces imposed widespread closures on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and wider Jerusalem area, sparking widespread condemnation from Palestinian officials who called the moves “terrorist procedures.”
___Hundreds of Israeli soldiers were deployed across streets around the Old City, preventing people from entering or leaving the area . . .
___Unable to access Al-Aqsa, worshipers performed Friday prayer in the streets and alleyways leading to the compound inside the Old City.
___Firas al-Dibs, Head of the Public Relations and Media department at the Islamic Endowment (Waqf) — which administers the compound — told Ma’an that dozens of Israeli soldiers and intelligence officers raided and completely surrounded Al-Aqsa following the armed confrontations . . .    where the two police officers, both Druze citizens of Israel were killed — and ended inside the compound where the three Palestinians, also citizens of Israel, were shot and killed.   MORE . . .

Nisan, Mordechai. “THE  DRUZE  IN  ISRAEL:  QUESTIONS  OF  IDENTITY,  CITIZENSHIP,  AND  PATRIOTISM.” Middle East Journal, vol. 64, no. 4, Sept. 2010, pp. 575-596.
The Druze community of Israel enjoys a special place alongside and in-between the Jews and the Arabs. Accounting for less than 2% of Israel’s population, numbering just 122,400 people of a total of about seven million, the Druze community is marginal . . . Yet unlike the predominant non-Jewish Arab minority population, overwhelmingly Palestinian by national identity and Muslim by religious affiliation, the Druze have preferred a more insular identity . . . .   the Druze have, bilingual, shown no readiness to identify with the Arab narrative of Palestine. . .  The call for reconstituting Israel as a “democratic multi-cultural” state, effectively a bi-national entity that recognizes the Palestinian Arabs as nationally equal to the Jewish people of Israel, did not evoke Druze solidarity or enthusiasm.
[. . . .] The Druze, sandwiched between the Jews and Arabs of Israel, by their collective identity and public stance have nonetheless made a discerning mark on Israel’s ethnic and political map. For Israel to accept and integrate, but not homogenize, the Druze into the Jewish matrix of society in what is sometimes referred to as the Israeli “melting pot” is a formidable challenge . . . Israel would have to advance a policy of inclusion and the Druze would have to show willingness to absorb the Israeli reality with its sweeping Jewish character. A most powerful expression on the path toward adhesion is the Druze Zionist Movement initiated by Yusuf Nasr al-Din of Daliat al-Carmel, who believes that the Arab-Israeli Conflict is a monumental historical struggle between Zionism and Arabism, recommending that the Druze show complete solidarity with Israel by going as far as to adopt the national Zionist ideology of the Jewish people.
___A contrasting conception identifies the Druze as a branch of the so-called Arab “nation,” brothers on the cultural and political battle-lines against the Jewish state. A typical portrayal, as articulated by the journalist Nazir Magali from Nazareth, identifies the Druze as sharing with the Arabs the same language, traditions, and customs, to the extent that the Druze can be considered Muslims the Koran.” Moreover, a common dismal fate binds the Arabs and the Druze as victims of Israel’s land expropriations policy, deficiencies in the Arabic-language state educational system, and a host of other disabilities that, it is claimed, discriminate against all non-Jewish sectors of the population. However, when the army draft rate for Druze males constitutes an impressive figure of 83% of eligible draftees, it is clear that this minority community’s commitment to Israel’s national security offers a picture radically different from the Arabs’ sense of alienation from the state. Druze patriotic Israeli sentiments and sacrifices put into question the notion that the Druze are as “Arab” as the Muslims (or Christians) in Israel.   SOURCE . . .

Ma’an News Agency
July 14, 2017     [. . . .]   Rosenfeld reported early on Friday afternoon that the two critically injured officers had succumbed to their wounds while in the hospital, identifying them as Hail Stawi, 30, and Kamil Shakib Shinan, 22 — two Druze citizens of Israel from the villages of Maghar and Horfish respectively.
[. . . .]  Unlike Muslim and Christian Palestinian citizens of Israel, Druze and Circassians with Israeli citizenship are subject to mandatory military service in the Israeli forces, one of a number of distinctions made by the Israeli government between indigenous residents of Israel that have been denounced as “divide and conquer” tactics. MORE . . .
Ma’an News Agency
Jan. 15, 2016.  A plan approved by Israel’s cabinet last week to provide half a billion dollars worth of assistance to Israel’s Druze and Circassian minorities has been denounced by leaders of Israel’s Palestinian community as a “divide and conquer” tactic.
[. . . .]  Israeli law differentiates between Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel, and forms further distinctions between various Palestinians minorities.
___Druze and Circassians are subject to mandatory military service in the Israeli army, whereas Muslim or Christian Palestinian citizens of Israel are not. Israeli identification papers do not recognize Christians, Druze and Circassians as Arabs, unlike Muslims.   MORE . . . 
Ma’an News Agency 
July 14, 2017.   An 18-year-old Palestinian was killed by Israeli forces during a detention raid in the al-Duheisha refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem on Friday morning.
___The Palestinian Red Crescent told Ma’an that the teenager succumbed in the hospital to wounds sustained in his upper body, after Israeli forces raided the refugee camp seeking to detain two residents.
___The Palestinian Ministry of Health identified the slain youth as Baraa Hamamda.
___Locals told Ma’an that Israeli forces detained Muhammad Ubeid and Muath Abu Nassar during the raid, adding that they then fired live bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at al-Duheisha residents.
___An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that during a detention raid in al-Duheisha, Palestinians threw “explosive devices and blocks” at Israeli forces, who fired towards the youth.   MORE . . .

What should I do with the narcissus?
The apricot?
The crowns of rugged trees?
What should I do with the finest
of my wildflowers? What?
What should I do with the strongest, fiercest,
and cruelest wild flowers and thorns?
What should I do with the strongest
of English words?
The fiercest of French traits:
The cruelest of German blows:
The ugliest of Hebrew terms:
The most horrible sound in Arabic:
What should I do with my pain
over my ignorance of Sanskrit
and Esperanza?
My fondness for wildflowers
runs deep.
What should I do
with the fence of fire
and with my being caught―
between the ugliest and the finest?
What should I do?
What should I do?
–Trans. by Nazih Kassis

*Etrangé: Stranger

From Al-Qasim, Samih. Sadder than Water: New & Selected Poems. Nazih Kassis, Trans. (Jerusalem: Ibis Editions, 2006.)   Available from Amazon
About Samih Al-Qasim