Red Crescent says at least 20 people wounded after Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound following Friday prayers.
— Arwa Ibrahim (@arwaib) May 21, 2021
Jerusalem (CNN) Israeli security forces used stun grenades and rubber bullets against Palestinians outside the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, where thousands of worshipers had been attending Friday prayers, puncturing a half-day of calm brought on by a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.
A CNN journalist at the mosque compound said dozens of Israeli officers hit journalists with batons and tried to point rifles at them, calling them “liars” when they showed them their press cards.
The officers moved on to the compound as thousands of worshipers chanted in solidarity with Gaza and with Palestinian residents of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, where some Palestinian families are facing eviction.
An Israeli police spokesperson said the officers were responding to a riot by hundreds of young Palestinians that included the throwing of stones at police forces.
CNN witnessed people, including screaming children, fleeing the scene to the sound of stun grenade blasts. The Palestinian Red Crescent said it treated 20 injuries following clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police at the compound. Two people were taken to hospital, while the rest were treated in the field, the aid group said.
The mosque and evictions have been flashpoints in the recent conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which according to the Hamas-run health ministry, left 243 Palestinians in Gaza dead, including 66 children, and 12 in Israel — including two children — who died from militant fire, according to the IDF and Israel’s emergency service.
One of the proximate causes of the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas was Israeli law enforcement and security forces raiding the al Aqsa mosque during prayers during Ramadan.
Weeks of sporadic violence between Israelis and Palestinians in Jerusalem intensified on Friday evening at a sacred religious site for Muslims and Jews, as the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan nears.
Israeli police in riot gear confronted crowds of Muslim worshippers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam’s holiest sites. Worshippers threw rocks and chairs at police, who fired rubber-coated bullets and stun grenades.
Israel asserted it had to conduct that raid on 7 May because Palestinians were using al Aqsa to plan terrorist attacks.
I have no idea whether this is true or not because, as was the case with the stated justification for reducing the building in Gaza that houses almost all the foreign news bureaus, Israel hasn’t actually shown any of their evidence, just asserted it. What I do know, however, is just how provocative and self defeating this type of action is. We spent years and years of training and education to get US military personnel, from senior leaders to squad leaders, and the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines they command to understand and internalize that one of the most provocative, self defeating, and harmful in terms of creating negative second, third, and fourth order effects is to send US personnel into a mosque to conduct a raid. Same thing with conducting tactical operations against weddings and funerals too! Eventually, just to make sure that this would happen only if there was NO OTHER POSSIBLE TACTICAL OPTION AVAILABLE and IMMINENT HARM OR DEATH WAS GOING TO HAPPEN IF A RAID DIDN’T HAPPEN, the Army started sending people like me, including me, to Iraq and Afghanistan so that someone would have a seat at the table who could make sure to reinforce this when the decisions on what would happen and when were being planned, discussed, war-gamed, briefed for approval, and approved.
And, eventually, the training, education, and advising began to stick. I only recall two instances during my deployment where I had to raise this issue. The first was while doing the brigade commander’s review of a company commander’s plan for a tactical cordon and knock operation. It was being planned for early on a Friday and while there was no intention to enter the local mosque, I reemphasized that it was 1) going to be done on prayer day and 2) that meant we needed to be extra careful. My brigade commander looked up from his briefing book, said “good catch”, and provide clear guidance to the captain whose Soldiers would be conducted the raid to be extra careful, extra respectful, and to be done well before Friday prayers started and to stay well away from the local mosque. The second had to do with a wedding. I got an email from one of the targeteers in our Field Artillery battalion that they had solid information that one of the high value Mehdi Army targets would be attending his daughters wedding and what did I think? I hit reply; added the brigade commander, deputy brigade commander, XO, S3 (Officer in Charge of Operations), S2 (Officer in Charge of Intelligence), the brigade planner, the Command Sergeant Major, the battalion commander, the battalion XO, the battalion Command Sergeant Major (that’s the guy with the soccer and junk food story I’ve written about before), the battalion S3, the battalion S2, and the battalion planner and replied with:
DO NOT BLOW UP OR RAID THE WEDDING!!!! BLOWING UP OR RAIDING THE WEDDING IS BAD!!!! VERY BAD!!!! VERY, VERY BAD!!!!
Five minutes later the battalion commander called me up laughing and saying “he got the message”. We then worked through options that would not disrupt the wedding.
The only reason to conduct this type of operation, within 12 hours of a cease-fire, is if you’re trying to goad the Palestinians into breaking the cease-fire. If someone is planning something in the mosque, then you put your people into place, watch, wait, observe, and arrest them a suitable and respectful distance from the mosque after they leave. This is the whole point of doing network based intelligence for targeting and engagement. Shin Bet has been a master of this for decades in regards to the Palestinians. You don’t go right back and do the very thing that was one of the three or four most immediate proximate causes of the conflict you just ended with a cease-fire!
It’s as if Bibi will do anything to avoid facing a judge.
This is so fucking stupid as well as brutal.
“Blowing up the wedding is bad!“
Seems intuitively obvious to the casual observer
Thank you, Adam.
Smedley the uncertain
Sadly, at this juncture I don’t think Bibi and company care. Without a change in leadership this will continue …
Adam L Silverman
@Raoul Paste: I may have been a wee bit hyperbolic just to drive my point home…
Adam L Silverman
@Tom Levenson: Yep.
Do people actually uncritically believe Israeli government assertions/statements? (Tactical lying is real.)
Also, it is kind of “fuck you, Biden. My buddy Trump will be President again in 4 years and will be for life, just like I am Israel’s de facto PM for life.”
Adam L Silverman
@Bill Arnold: You’d be amazed.
There is a large number who really want to believer, and probably an even larger number who admire the lie, the assertion that we have the power to make the facts what we want them to be.
Has Bibi announced yet how Iran was responsible?
One consistent pattern seems to be attacking media.
I wonder who is ordering this, at least not protesting this from a government level.
Again, the world shows that it will allow Israel to commit war crimes with impunity.
I am amazed that it took them so little time to get back to it.
It must be the same feeling for you, Adam, as I get when I see another governor ignoring exponential rise in covid policy.
Adam L Silverman
@Cheryl Rofer: I get that same feeling about the COVID stuff too.
As for this, it was inevitable. What Bibi and his coalition members and the Israelis that keep electing them and anyone anywhere else who supports them refuse to understand is that there are only two ways for Israel to be safe and secure within its borders. The first is a comprehensive, equitable, and just agreement with the Palestinians that creates a Palestinian state that ensures access to the holy sights in Jerusalem and creates a set of reciprocal mechanisms to make each side as whole as possible. The second is ethnic cleansing and genocide. Only one of these is acceptable, but Bibi, his coalition partners, and their supporters can’t seem to recognize that the unacceptable option is not the acceptable option.
I’d say it was a tad understated.
Anonymous At Work
I think that the US-based equivalent is an ATF/DEA joint raid on CPAC, using stun grenades and flashbangs to interrupt the conference, zip tie all attendees until background checks and digital searches of all computers completed, on the rumor that white nationalists were attending and plotting domestic terrorism (not a strike, per se, just “terrorism”). I mean, what’s it going to take to show bad faith in Israel on things like this?
Israel under the tutelage of far-right governments and encouraged by years of American support and unwavering backing has broken internationals at will, has denied basic humans rights afforded to prisoners of wars, and has disregarded their closest allies’ calls to behave humanely towards the imprisoned Palestinian population. The time is gone when the magic words of Israel’s right to self-defense meant that the blood of Palestinians didn’t matter. The US credibility and for that matter the credibility of the world is tarnished when pointing at China’s treatment of the Uyghur people, yet support or look the other at Israel in your face Human rights violations.
Bibi & co. should soon get their wish. Hamas will fire off some rockets (might require another mosque raid or two); Bibi will loudly proclaim that they’ve violated the cease-fire; and away we go.
@Dan B: I guess Israel thinks emulating Erdoğan is a good thing?
There is so little coverage in the MSM of the Israeli instigation behind this new conflagration.
James E Powell
Apparently, asking Israel to provide evidence shows that one is anti-semitic, objectively pro-terrorist, and soon to be fired.
How do you “try” to point a rifle at someone?
@raven: I wondered about that, too!
I wonder if Biden can just declare that this Israeli action violates the cease-fire and tell the world that that means the following automatic steps are the consequences for Bibi’s actions and then just fuck with Bibi. Rescind the recent arms sale. Stop shipments of spares for what we’ve already sold them. Freeze assets (especially of Russian emigrants to Israel) where we have domain or influence. Call a special session of the UN (don’t do anything, just call for one).
On the soft front, move the 6th fleet into some nonsensical position/posture that gets the press’ attention, while uploading old films of the Pueblo Incident to Youtube. Start referring to Bibi as “Defendant Netanyahu” instead of PM. Have the DOJ start investigations into AIPAC for some flavor-of-the-day chickenshit charges. Air more videos of Palestinian children asking where they’re supposed to live now.
I know, wishful thinking and probably counterproductive.
@raven: I think it means you pointed the rifle, but you had good intentions. Actually, no – I have no idea what it means.
Short video of the Israeli provocation.
“Do or do not. There is no try.”
This is not the same country I was brought up to support. Every time I think I can’t be more disgusted with the Israeli govt, they find a new low. What happened to “If it is hateful to you, do not do it to your neighbor”?
Surely you jest?
MSM – “OMG! So much death. Why did you do that?”
Israel- (shrugs) “Reasons.”
MSM – “Oh ………. were they good reasons?”
Israel – “We think so.”
MSM – “Thank God for that!”
I don’t know how you could have missed all the in-depth reportage. (MASSIVE SNARK)
Joe is on the wrong side of this. I feel an email coming on.
The whole point is to stir shit up to benefit the powerful. The worse it gets, the better it is for Netanyahu.
Beware politicians that politically benefit from war, terrorism, insurrection, crime, chaos and discord, because they will make sure to deliver these things.
@Adam L Silverman: Was listening to the Obama bros the other day and they were perplexed about what Biden was doing in not coming out quickly for a cease fire when that is what we have always done in the past. They suggested it was fecklessness or avoidance, but could they be misunderstanding what Biden is doing? It seems to me that Bibi should not necessarily view this as a good sign, and maybe be a bit worried that Biden might be contemplating sitting back and seeing if there is enough momentum in the Dem caucus for cutting off aid, i.e., letting the game come to him. In the past, Dem presidents who have tried to lean on Israel have been undermined by Dem supporters of Israel in Congress, which allowed the GOP to pile on and make a big issue of it. Biden has seen that enough that he may be thinking that jumping into this without a congressional tail wind is a sucker’s game. If there’s momentum to cut aid in Congress, he can then step in and broker something more favorable for Israel. Otherwise, there’s not much he can do, because sternly worded speeches or, alternatively, kissing Bibi’s ass doesn’t achieve anything. Of course, this could be complicated by 2022, but I’m not sure unwavering support of Israel is really all that great of a campaign issue for the GOP. Frankly, most Americans are pretty sick of the ME and it isn’t the motivator it used to be for a lot of reasons that used to drive this, such as the oil-based geostrategic ones that animated the late 20th century.
Thanks for this.
The players seem to be unchanged and unbowed.
Haaretz just now:
1) It’s kinda crazy when Erdogan’s government sounds slightly reasonable.
2) Bibi talks about weakening and punishing Hamas with one side of his mouth, while strengthening them with the other.
I fear little is going to change soon. Maybe Biden’s Gaza rebuilding initiative will have some effect, eventually, but the people (no matter which side of which border they are on) are going to continue to suffer until they have new, sensible, political leadership.
Bibi is going to continue pulling this crap until he is out of office. We should stop – to the extent possible – being his enabler.
Most of the coverage I’ve read or heard doesn’t even mention it. They leave it to the reader/listener to figure that out, and I assume most people say to themselves “There those Palestinians go again”. Neither side is blameless, but I think a lot of people assume Israel is always the one who is provoked. Our coverage of things like this in the U.S. is mostly terrible.
You meant USS Liberty Incident, yes?
@debbie: Even if he whole-heartedly supported the Palestinians, he’d be in a bind. What a great distraction for Republicans desperate to find one – you’d have the entire wingnut bullshit machine cranked up to top volume screaming “They’re not only abortion-loving Marxosexuals, THEY HATE ISRAEL!”
It doesn’t help that the U.S. press will never, never, never, never, never address this honestly and forthrightly. I figured out a long time ago that what Bibi and his supporters want to do is drive all the Palestinians from Israel forever, or kill them all.
Hyperbolic seems a good choice for this incident. Back my days as a senior software guy at a gigantic tech company folks used to ask me if their solution to a software problem would work. I usually took the opposite tack. My most effective reply to stop hair brained schemes was:
“Will this work?”
Adam L Silverman
@Hoodie: My take from the reporting is that Biden and his team were incredibly active and engaged, they just did it quietly and behind the scenes. Right now I’m not sure if he and his team have simply decided there’s no real progress to be made until/unless Israel actually elects a government rather than limps along between two to three elections a year with a caretaker government or if there’s some other calculus in play. Right now we don’t even have designated nominees for ambassador to Israel or to be consul general in Jerusalem, which is the de facto ambassador to the Palestinians. You’re not going to get a special envoy named until those two positions are filled.
But I think Biden and his team have watched successive presidents and administrations engage with Bibi publicly on this stuff and not get very far, so they decided to be very engaged, but do it out of public view. Whether that’s any more effective or not, I don’t know.
@Adam L Silverman:
I think that maybe they do not want to recognize rather than can’t seem to.
But then this might be some more of that understatement stuff…….
Adam L Silverman
@Soprano2: I wrote an entire policy and strategy assessment on this problem when I was assigned by the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Security Dialogue in the Middle East to be the Cultural Advisor to the Commanding General of US Army Europe for the Commanding General and the Special Envoy. That was in 2014.
@Hoodie: FAS.org has a copy of a Congressional Research Service report (RL33222.pdf 46 page .pdf)
Biden can probably slow-walk deliveries, to some extent, but he probably cannot stop them for long. (I’d be very surprised if there’s even a way for the President to say “NO” in the legislation, given the politics.) These arms sales are in Congress’s handbasket.
@Chetan Murthy: DOH! Yes, thank you. I ought know that. Man, gettin’ old.
@Adam L Silverman: That doesn’t necessarily conflict with what I was saying. Of course, State may act behind the scenes because that’s just their professional role, e.g., countries like Sweden do that sort of thing. I was getting at the possibility that the US starting to act like a neutral is not necessarily a good sign for Israel, even if they benefit from it in the short term because we don’t do things like openly lean on them to cease fire. It’s kind of like the friend who decides not to take your car keys when you’re drunk, it signals that they may not be that great of a friend. Ultimately, Israelis need to realize that they’re screwing themselves by not picking a legit government and letting this asshole keep following his own short term political needs. We can’t do anything about that.
In the past, maybe not the immediate past, Israel was a weaker country and we, in a call for something, shored him up rather well. And that has not gone as well as some might think, mostly because he seems a bit power hungry and possibly in a tad over his head. The concept that all strength comes from military power seemingly always keeps the conflict going, until critical mass is reached, whatever critical mass is in any conflict. And it often ends up becoming shear madness in international relations, this concept that there is only one correct side and nothing else matters. It’s a big world, getting smaller by the day as populations grow, as the environment worsens due to the numbers and the lack of trying to do better and the proliferation of some pretty strong weapons. People get to a point that conflict is the only response. That is seemingly where Bibi is and has been for a while. It’s a kill all of them before they hurt one of us and it very often works out the way it is in the middle east. Not well. I’d bet Bibi did the cease fire because of President Biden’s work behind the scenes, and then screwed it up because that’s who he is and what he does. The Bibi’s of the world have been doing this for ever and it’s always worked out about the same, in the end not at all.
But of course, with the corollary that somehow “it was all their own fault“…..
@Adam L Silverman: When the ceasefire was announced yesterday, Hamas claimed that the ceasefire agreement included promises from the Israelis to respect the sanctity of the El-Aqsa Mosque, and not to evict the Arab families of the El-Jarrah neighborhood. Do you think Hamas’ claim is true? If not, why claim this?
J R in WV
As usual, a good piece describing the situation in Jerusalem, and judging from your quote of the CNN reporting, perhaps the MSM is getting a clue. Easier for reporters to get a clue when being attacked by the same storm troopers the Palestinians are being attacked by, after all.
Thanks for this. Bibi is obviously only interested in maintaining power in order to stay out of jail, just like TFG was and is. Well, that and torturing the Israeli Arab population, he’s interested in that too.
Thanks for the reporting. Between you and Cheryl we have a lot to chew on this afternoon. So much news, mostly bad…
New Deal democrat
Joe Biden: “I believe the Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely, and enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity, and democracy. My administration will continue our quiet, relentless diplomacy towards that end.”
Kudos to President Biden for saying what on Sunday I wrote no US President could say. Needless to say, it will be very instructive to see what the reactions to this statement will be over the coming days and weeks. Let us pray that the dam is breaking.
@Adam L Silverman: Meanwhile, in the world of Israeli Politics, are there perhaps coalitions that can oust Bibi?
Another pro sign Biden gave was not rushing to be the first to call for a ceasefire, but the first to give Israel a deadline. 24 hours as I recall.
Who was the last president to do something like that? I ask because I don’t know.
@Adam L Silverman:
I believe that you are correct. It’s always been done publicly and that in the end has got the situation no where. Bibi always blames the other side and it’s tough to negotiate publicly when your side is always blaming and killing the other side. Tough to say publicly your ally is wrong and then back them up with money and arms, without looking the fool.
The Pale Scot
I’d go with “indicted mobster Netanyahu”
While this seems self-evident I’ll expect most if not all reporting on it to be some form of “While IDF did not want to have to do this, they ultimately had little choice in the matter.”
There is a coalition of Israelis and Palestinians that argue a Confederation is a third way.
@Adam L Silverman:
That might be a message all by itself.
Odie Hugh Manatee
The Palestinian to Israeli deaths ratio this time is a bit more than 20 to 1… Israel has upped their game from the usual 15 to 1 killing ratio. I quit being an Israel supporter back in the 90’s when I learned how bloodthirsty some of their police and military are. I’ve been paying attention to this since the Camp David Accords under Carter. While I agree that Israel has a right to exist, they do not have the right to take it all for themselves and leave the Palestinians stateless.
I’m also sick of our bombs and bullets being used to kill while we politely ask them to stop killing. It makes no sense.
@Adam L Silverman:
Now say it five times fast. With feeling.
@Odie Hugh Manatee:
Bibi is thinking, “I’m winning, why should I sue for peace?”
It’s not like anyone will do anything other then tsk, tsking. //
Particularly crappy reporting on this from our local NBC affiliate tonight – talking about unrest in Jerusalem today at a site ‘that Israel calls Temple Mount’. Like the Al Aqsa Mosque isn’t even there.
@Diane Mason: Argh
Typical crap. Palestinians are throwing rocks at Jews at Wailing Wall from the grounds of Mosque. Israeli practice is massive reprisal, as if that solves the problem. Extremists on both sides are happy. The use of the Mosque grounds for rock throwing is intended to provoke the typical Israeli over-response, which they are happy to deliver.
This looks to be an answer to Palestinian claims that ‘they won the battle’. This is Bibi saying: ‘Oh yea … My troops can go to your holiest places on your holiest days and there is nothing you can do about it’.
A lack of US support, even an arms embargo, isn’t going to do much in even any small number of years. The Israelis have structured their military to be largely free of international dependence. They do, or easily can, produce most of their own weapons and they have buyers world-wide who are, by design, set up to work the grey market to get anything they need. We tried this before. They know the dance.
I don’t care about Palestinians. Israel does what it does. I don’t advocate any violence but it is understandable. If anything Israel has shown remarkable restraint. It isn’t as if they couldn’t clear Gaza in a few days if they wanted and were unconcerned with Palestinian casualties. They do have that much power.
So why am I harshing on the Palestinians? The Palestinians don’t recognize Israel’s right to exist. They recognize it does exist, but this is not sufficient. The major Palestinian party that did include the right to exist in a letter, not even an official declaration, was run out of power by Hamas. They vehemently maintain their right to kill Israelis and Jews wherever they are. In whatever manner is most convenient. The vindictiveness toward Israel, Israelis, and Jews has become the defining characteristic of the Palestinian people. They were offered a two-state solution and they rejected it because it would mean abandoning their revenge fantasies and identity. They murder any Palestinians who cooperate, even in the most benign and peaceful enterprises, with Jews. Typically they are chopped to death with a hatchet and the body is displayed publicly. Often for days.
The Palestinians have made themselves into the rabid dogs of the world. I don’t think suffering has any purpose and I hate to see people suffer but my sympathy toward the Palestinians is very very limited. They have tried struggle and violence. Perhaps something different.
You probably should examine the history of the propaganda of the various factions in that conflict, in particular how they have been honed over time into different mostly self-consistent self-serving narratives. You are regurgitating one line of propaganda, completely uncritically.
@Art: Well, as you say, Hamas is a repressive regime. So do the residents of Gaza have any say over whether and when Hamas gets a war going with Israel? Granted, their views may be conditioned by propaganda. But now there is a wide range of information that elites cannot control. This could be beginning to have an effect that we would not yet be able to see.
Diplomatically and psychologically, this conflict has been static for a very long time. I recently read Michael Oren’s history of the Six Day War. He points out in his final chapter that the political dynamic has been frozen in place since that war, the cold peaces with Egypt and Jordan notwithstanding. That started to change with the Israeli/UAE peace treaty last year. One result, I think, was a message the UAE sent to the Palestinians that the UAE wasn’t supporting the Palestinians’ maximal goals any more, that the Palestinians were going to have to take what they can get.
It’s too early to know how consequential the so-called “Abraham Accords” will be. Because of the contempt many have for Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu, there is a tendency to derogate and dismiss these treaties because they are so identified with those two leaders. But the treaties fulfill a process between Israel and the Arab Gulf states that began before trump and even Netanyahu were in power, and will be around when they are gone. It could be that the ice jam of the last fifty three years can finally thaw.
If there is a thaw, though, it will take at least a couple years to manifest, and the requirements for progress are more psychological than diplomatic. That’s why I thought Biden was right to put other foreign policy issues ahead of this one. And while people are rightfully upset about the toll this last war exacted, I am relieved that it is (at least temporarily) over, and that the outcome was not far worse than it was.
That said, I must say I think that your vehement animus towards the Palestinians as people is not unlike the hatred you accuse them of having for Jewish Israelis. I might feel similarly about the leadership, but I think the people are no better or worse than their Jewish neighbors.