The Holy Month of Ramadan has ended, and while Muslims worldwide have been celebrating, Palestinians are still recovering from a month of attacks. Last Wednesday, the Biden administration expressed it is ‘satisfied’ with Israel’s “handling of security tensions” during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
Israeli occupation forces have attacked Masjid Al-Aqsa and its worshippers during the holy month for decades, disrupting the sanctity and joy of the occasion and reasserting Israel’s completely illegal and inhumane occupation over all of Jerusalem, including its most critical religious spaces in East Jerusalem. At the beginning of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s sixth term, extremist Itamar Ben-Gvir became the new Minister of National Security and stormed Masjid Al-Aqsa. Since then, settlers have continued to encroach on the compound under the protection of the Israeli occupation forces. In response, the Biden administration only expressed concern for Israel’s abuse of the Palestinians during Ramadan. Since then, the Biden Administration has expressed its satisfaction with Israel’s “handling of security tensions during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan,” adding insult to injury. On April 5, 2023, Israeli occupation forces invaded the Al-Aqsa mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem to attack Palestinian worshippers during Ramadan. Videos and images filmed by worshippers showed Israeli occupation forces firing tear gas, beating worshippers, and invading a holy space with vicious disregard. Israeli forces fired stun grenades, tear gas, and rubber bullets at worshippers, and arrested more than 440 Palestinians, including male children and minors, and banned entry to Al-Aqsa for all persons under 40. The attacks on Al-Aqsa are part of a more significant Israeli assault on Palestinian freedom of movement in the Old City. Israeli occupation forces conducted these attacks following calls by Israeli settler groups for Jewish worshippers to take to the Al-Aqsa compound for the Passover holiday – raising accusations that official policy is in lockstep with the most right-wing elements in Israeli society.
On April 15, 2023, Israeli police and armed occupation forces brutally beat Palestinian worshipers attempting to reach the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem for Easter. For years, Israeli right-wing settlers, supported by policy-makers and armed occupation forces, have escalated attacks on non-Jewish and non-Israeli worshipers in Jerusalem. The violent attacks occurred amid broader Israeli attempts to claim the holy city and enforce a new Judaized Israeli identity. Discriminatory practices have discouraged Muslim and Christian worshipers from reaching sacred places of worship in the Old City. On the Holy Saturday of the Easter holiday, Israeli armed occupation forces were deployed across the Old City’s Christian quarter. The city resembled a military base with checkpoints, the police, and the army deployed in every corner. Israeli occupation forces have claimed security concerns as a reason for deploying armed occupation forces in places of worship, but their attacks against Palestinian Christians go beyond sacred spaces.
When asked about the violence at al-Aqsa multiple times throughout Ramadan, the State Department spokesperson avoided mentioning Israeli violence and its violation of the status quo, instead urging restraint and preservation of holy sites. The spokesperson also condemned Palestinian violence, while the U.S. Ambassador to Israel posted a photo with a political and spiritual leader of a faction that supports theocratic rule in Israel. These actions suggest that the Biden administration sees Israel’s drift towards fascism as a mere inconvenience rather than a threat to the relationship between the two nations. Despite the Biden administration knowing what Israel is capable of with an understanding of the pattern of violence, they continue to unconditionally fund it with at least $3.8 billion in U.S. military aid annually. The administration’s total funding of Israel’s military assistance suggests complicity in the violence against Palestinians.
We must work to end the occupation and discrimination against Palestinians, hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law, and promote equality and justice for all people in the region. We are responsible for standing up against injustice and working to solve this long-standing occupation.