Protests occur all over UK in response to worst unrest in Jerusalem in years

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The world has rallied in solitude with Palestine over the last few weeks, as historic conflict has escalated again in the region on grand scale

Protests have arisen across the globe in the last few weeks in anger at the force of the treatment of Palestinian protesters by the Israeli army, after rising conflict between the two states mounted in violence in Jerusalem on Monday, 13th May in retaliation for Palestinian rockets fired.

The renewed conflict that has seen a barrage of Hamas rockets fired into Israel and Israeli counter airstrikes into Gaza are: “totally unacceptable,” the European Union said in a statement.
“The significant upsurge in violence in the occupied West Bank, including in East Jerusalem as well as in and around Gaza needs to stop immediately,” the EU said.

Fierce confrontations erupted overnight as Palestinians threw rocks and launched fireworks at police, who returned fire into the packed crowds with round after round of rubber bullets and stun grenades.
By morning, heavily armoured officers had stepped up the crackdown, pursuing protesters by storming the sacred Jerusalem site that holds the Dome of the Rock and leaving the stained-glass windows in al-Aqsa mosque – the third-holiest site in Islam – smashed.

An already highly flammable situation made increasingly worse by weeks of mounting anger, the question of the two nations relationship and nature of co-existence is, by it’s very creation, in constant flux and is fraught with religious and political division.

The recent violence was a product of long-standing tensions over Israeli occupation and the partitioning of the state in 1948, accompanied with the typical characteristics of two peoples trying to forcibly co-exist, and a melting pot of recent events that have escalated tensions specifically in this instance.

Jerusalem has always been the centre of the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, with its holy sites revered by Jews and Muslims alike and a product of much conflict as a result.

Palestinian groups such as Hamas and Israeli forces are constantly at odds with one another due to the perceived deeply incompatible nature of both current claims to the Holy Land.

The Trump administration’s previous plans and cosy ties with Israel to further cement Israel’s control over Palestinian territories had citizens on high alert, especially given that he has cut hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, declared the divided city of Jerusalem Israel’s capital, shut down Palestinian diplomatic offices in Washington and devised a “peace plan” that affords Israel’s government many of its demands.

Protests in London. Credit: The National Scot

Then a potentially unfortunate decision by Mahmoud Abbas, the 85-year-old leader of the unpopular semi-autonomous Palestinian Authority, to postpone planned elections has added frustration for Palestinians.
Their last parliamentary ballot was in 2006 and feel disenfranchised and disempowered.

Alongside this, an Israeli election in March further emboldened Israel’s far right, returning a party of Jewish ultranationalists allied with the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, into parliament.

To add to these rising fears for Palestinian citizens, during the month of Ramadan inhabitants have complained of unnecessary restrictions to their freedom of religious expression by Israeli police, who prevented them from gathering on steps outside the Old City, which is an unofficial tradition to attend after evening prayers.

Street harassment was documented over the month, with an increase in communal violence between both Jews and Palestinians posted online to social media platforms.

Bigoted tensions truly erupted in late April when hundreds of far-right Israelis marched down city streets chanting “death to Arabs” and confronted Palestinians with shouts and violence.

To add to this already smouldering timebomb, anger built ahead of an Israeli court ruling, which was due on Monday, on whether authorities would evict dozens of Palestinians from the majority-Arab East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah and give their homes to Jewish settlers.

To make matters worse, on the same day, thousands Israeli nationalists were due to march through Muslim neighbourhoods in the Old City in a provocative parade that celebrated Israel’s capture of the city in 1967, a clear message to Palestinian citizens.

Prior to the recent casualties and escalation of violence, The European Union had called on authorities to “act urgently to de-escalate the current tensions in Jerusalem” while the US said the Israeli government should “pursue appropriate measures to ensure calm”.

Protests in solidarity with the Palestinian people have been observed across the globe, as worldwide people call for an end to the oppression.

Protests have arisen in London, Glasgow, Edinburgh just to name a few, where large audiences attended.
In London, Jeremy Corbyn, the former Labour party leader, told crowds gathered outside the gates of the Israeli embassy that international action provides comfort and support to those suffering in the conflict.

“Think what it’s like being a mother or father and seeing a building bombed in front of you, knowing your family is in there, and you can do nothing,” he said.

“It’s our global voices that will give succour, comfort and support in those settlements alongside Gaza and all over the West Bank, East Jerusalem who are suffering at this time.

“End the occupation now. End all the settlements now and withdraw then. End the siege of Gaza now.”

Stirling Uni Labour’s Palestine Protest. Credit: Rachel Swan

In Stirling, The University Labour Society organised it’s own protest at King’s Park.

Chairperson Lauren Harper said: “I felt it was really important for Stirling to show some solidarity with the Palestinian people given the escalation we’ve seen in the conflict during the last few days.”

Featured Image Credit: The Glasgow Times

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