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Jerusalem clashes: An urgent call for Muslim Unity

Clashes between Israelis and Palestinians escalated Friday night in Jerusalem. Scores of people were injured on Saturday as Israeli forces targeted Palestinians outside the Old City of Jerusalem.

The violence took place after thousands of worshippers gathered at Al-Aqsa Mosque for their weekly Friday prayers and were met with a heavy police presence. Israel’s police forces fired rubber bullets and grenades and made arrests.

Tensions have mounted in the city throughout the Muslim holy month of Ramazan, amid growing anger over the potential eviction of Palestinians from Jerusalem homes on land claimed by Jewish settlers. Let’s take an in-depth review of recent tensions and the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Why tensions escalated?

Tensions in Jerusalem have soared in recent days, ahead of a Monday Israeli court ruling on whether authorities can evict dozens of Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, and give their homes to Jewish settlers. Palestinians have also complained of oppressive restrictions during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Earlier this year, a Jerusalem district court ruled the homes legally belonged to the Jewish families. The Jewish plaintiffs claimed their families lost the land during the war that accompanied Israel’s creation in 1948.

The Palestinian families implicated in the case have provided evidence that their homes were acquired from Jordanian authorities who controlled east Jerusalem from 1948 to 1967.

Sheikh Jarrah

The Sheikh Jarrah district is home to the descendants of refugees who were expelled or displaced during the 1948 war in what became known by Palestinians as the Nakba (catastrophe).

In 1956, 28 refugee families were given housing units in an agreement between the UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) and the Jordan government, to help provide shelter for the families as part of a resettlement agreement.

Following the Israeli occupation of the West Bank in 1967, settlers have claimed ownership of the land, despite international law stating that they have no legal authority over the population it occupies. However, settler groups have filed several successful lawsuits to forcefully evict Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah since 1972.

In 2002, 43 Palestinians were forced to evacuate their homes, leaving many displaced. Six years later the Hanoun and Ghawi families were forced to leave their homes behind and in 2017 the Shamasneh family were also evicted from their home by Israeli settlers.

An urgent call for Muslim Unity  

The attempts to endorse peace in the Middle East have botched mostly because of mistrust and suspicion existing Israeli-Palestinian dispute. In the absence of communal trust and confidence, peace remains vague as the contracting parties succumb to their invented lingering fears.

Israel and the western powers required to understand the outcome of history that the force of battalions can prevent the invasion of armies but not the invasion of an idea whose time has come.

Muslim leaders need to diagnose these problems and resolve them on a war footing. A reformed and empowered OIC will immensely help safeguard the collective economic and political interests of Muslims. Any delays in uniting the divided Muslim countries will further embolden the West to divide and weaken Muslims in this anarchic world.

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