This Last Sunday Israeli Occupation forces violently stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, assaulting worshippers and risking an escalation with the Gaza Strip, similar to what happened back in May.
Heavily armed Israeli occupation police forces, making way for illegal settler extremists to storm the site, violently removed Palestinian worshippers from the al-Aqsa mosque compound. The Israeli forces shot tear gas and rubber bullets, as well as other munitions, at elderly worshippers during prayer and proceeded to violently assault unarmed women.
The al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site for Muslims, who were praying there just days before their religious holiday of Eid al-Adha. Ultimately, 1540 illegal Israeli settlers forced their way into the site, where mosques had just been damaged by the fire power of Israeli armed forces. In addition to this, Israel set up barriers around the old city of Jerusalem and prevented Palestinians from entering, later gassing, assaulting and arresting protesters.
The attack, which could be described as the largest Islamophobic attack in the past months, went virtually unreported, however, with little Western media attention coming its way at all. This has been the case since Israel’s violation of the May 21 ceasefire agreement with Gaza, that Western media has all but ignored it, despite Gaza having been bombarded four times. The difference between now and May? Gaza’s armed groups have not been firing rockets at Israel and Palestinians have not reacted violently to Israeli provocations.
When Palestinians do respond violently, this is always where the story begins, with the “Hamas rockets”. This too could have easily been in the headlines over this weekend, as the very actions taken by Israel’s forces have worked to stoke tensions and arguably to provoke an armed response from Gaza.
The Secretary General of Lebanese Hezbollah, Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, said in a speech following the May conflict, that future attacks on al-Aqsa should mean a regional war. However, there has been no action as of yet by Hezbollah or any other group. From Lebanon, on Tuesday morning, two rockets were reportedly fired into the upper Galilee, North of Israel, but seemed to have been fired by smaller Palestinian groups and not by Hezbollah itself.
As for Hamas, they have so far refrained from any rocket fire from Gaza. This action may well come in the future, but it does seem that Israel sought to get one up on its opposition by showing that it could violate the sanctity of the Holy Site with no repercussions. Which, if anything, speaks to the restraint of Israel’s foes, that whilst Israel actively attempts to provoke them with attacks on religious sites, the supposed “terrorists” do not respond.
Despite Western mainstream media attempts to paint the new Israeli government, of Prime Minister Naftali Bennet, as a breath of fresh air from that of Benjamin Netanyahu’s, the very same tactics have continued to be used regionally and against Palestinians. This includes the routine bombing of Syria, like was last done in the early hours of Tuesday morning – on the first day of Eid – with airstrikes on targets in the countryside of Aleppo. These airstrikes on Syria were committed unprovoked and the Syrian government, despite constantly being bombed, has not responded to Israel’s provocations officially since 2018.
Perhaps one crucial difference in the new Naftali Bennet administration in Israel is the question of how well they will seek to restore their “deterrence capacity” with both Lebanon and Gaza. It is well established at this point that Israel cannot risk a ground incursion into Gaza and any attempts at declaring war will mean a strong response. As for Lebanon, if it becomes a regular occurrence that rockets are fired into Israel, then how will it seek to respond? If Israel attempts a war on Lebanon, Hezbollah will instantly get involved and this is not a battle that Israel can win.
In 2006 Israeli forces could not defeat a few thousand Hezbollah ground forces and withdrew after taking hundreds of casualties. Hezbollah today is not like the group of 2006, it is stronger than the Lebanese military and has modern weapons technology from Iran, including missiles which can precisely target any part of Israel directly. These forces under the command of Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah are essentially an army of their own and not an army that Israel would have the slightest hope of defeating, especially if the IDF’s army cannot even stomach entering Gaza anymore.
If Naftali Bennet behaves too irrationally, he could truly find himself in the middle of a multi-front war – all of his own doing. Such acts, as have been carried out at the al-Aqsa mosque, demonstrate not only that he is willing to violate Palestinian human rights, just like Netanyahu was, but that he is not making the correct calculations against his enemies, who are well trained strategic thinkers.