Jerusalem is resisting the #OngoingNakba.
Posted inFrom Palestine / From Palestine

Jerusalem is resisting the #OngoingNakba.

Israel annexed the western region of the Jerusalem Governorate in 1948, forcibly displacing and ethnically cleansing around 60,000 Jerusalemite Palestinians. In 1967, Israel occupied the remaining parts of Palestine and the Syrian Golan Heights  and two years later annexed the eastern part of the city and the Syrian Golan Heights.

Israel annexed the western region of the Jerusalem Governorate in 1948, forcibly displacing and ethnically cleansing around 60,000 Jerusalemite Palestinians. In 1967, Israel occupied the remaining parts of Palestine and the Syrian Golan Heights and two years later annexed the eastern part of the city and the Syrian Golan Heights.

Days after the occupation Israeli forces raided the Moroccan Quarter in the eastern region of Jerusalem in order to displace Palestinian Jerusalemites. When the residents of the Moroccan Quarter rightfully refused to leave their homes, Israeli military bulldozers began demolishing the home, with the residents inside., They killed one Palestinian and injured many more.

Since then, Israel has developed a multi-layered effort to ethnically cleanse Jerusalem of its Palestinian population in order to advance the ultimate Zionist plan of expanding Israel’s settler colonial project to the entirety of historical Palestine and beyond. Jerusalem is at the heart of Palestine and at the core of this plan.  

Nowadays, the #OngoingNakba manifests itself in various ways where the Israeli settler colonial project attempts to gradually ethnically cleanse Jerusalemite Palestinians from their capital city. 

At the center of the resistance to the #OngoingNakba in Jerusalem: The Afro-Palestinian community. 

The Afro-Palestinian community is a Palestinian community in Jerusalem, living at the center of the Old City of Jerusalem. Elham Shaheen is an Afro-Palestinian youth, explaining her community’s history and sense of Sumoud [steadfastness]. “The community’s neighborhood occupies a strategic area that allowed us to be the historical guardians of Al-Aqsa’s Bab Al-Majles” she says. In keeping up with their vow to protect Al-Aqsa Mosque, activists from the Afro-Palestinian community play a crucial role in protecting worshippers from Israeli military raids and promote a sense of steadfastness in Al-Aqsa Mosque and in the Old City of Jerusalem. During the latest attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque in Ramadan 2023, Afro-Palestinian Jerusalemites stood their grounds inside Al-Aqsa Mosque in protecting it and worshippers from Israeli military attacks.  

 “Our great-grandparents came to Jerusalem to perform pilgrimage and to protect Al-Aqsa Mosque during the British colonial era.”

Elham Shaheen, a fourth generation Afro-Palestinian youth.

The community descends from Chad, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan, and many arrived generations ago for multiple reasons to Jerusalem.  “Our great-grandparents came to Jerusalem to perform pilgrimage and to protect Al-Aqsa Mosque during the British colonial era,” Elham explains. The community consists of only 750 people, connected by a strong bond of solidarity. Since the start of Israel’s settler colonial project, they have taken a large role in the Palestinian struggle in Jerusalem. 

Members of the Afro-Palestinians community take pride in their place in the Palestinian society and culture. Some of them are grandchildren of heroes of the Palestinian resistance against the Nakba and work to keep this legacy alive.  Many Africans played a key role in the battles around Jerusalem during the Nakba. In fact, the commander of the battalion that prevented the fall of Jabal al-Mukabber in 1948 was the Nigerian-born Muhammad Tariq al-Afriqi.

The Afro-Palestinian community is part of the Jerusalemite Palestinian struggle for freedom. [Jaclynn Ashly]

Activists from the Afro-Palestinian community have also been involved in promoting education and community development initiatives, including the establishment of a Palestinian-African cultural center. This center aims to preserve and promote the cultural heritage of the African community in Palestine and serves as a platform for political and social organizing. Through their efforts, members of the Palestinian African community are working to overcome the multiple forms of injustices that they face and to fight for their rights as Palestinian citizens.

Further, as they are a central part of the Palestinian struggle against Israeli apartheid and ethnic cleansing, they face the same policies of arbitrary arrests, daily attacks and deprivation of their most basic human rights including their right to adequate housing. “We are not outsiders, we are a part of the Jerusalemite community that shares the same struggle with all Palestinians, Israel is targeting us and is aiming to erase us the same as all Jerusalemite Palestinians.” Elham added, explaining the Afro-Palestinian and the entirety of the Palestinian’s struggle against Israel’s settler colonial enterprise. 

The #OngoingNakba by excavations, Silwan.

On the southern outskirts of the Old City of Jerusalem lies the town of Silwan. Like the rest of Jerusalemite Palestinians, the people of Silwan are subjected to and resisting the de-Palestination of Jerusalem a. Silwan is home to more than 60,000 Palestinians, both original Silwani families and refugees, who Israel displaced in 1948. Currently, those people are in danger of being ethnically cleansed by several means, including Israel’s policy of depriving Palestinian Jerusalemites of their right to adequate housing. 

One of many ways Israel implements this policy and continues the #OngoingNakba is by performing excavations under Al-Aqsa Mosque extending to its south, where the town of Silwan is located. These excavations are causing cracks in the walls and roofs of many houses, making them unsuitable for living. Apartheid Israel uses many excuses to conduct these operations under the Al-Aqsa Mosque and surrounding areas, such as archeological research, which is in reality an attempt to create a historical Zionist narrative. Both, the excuse and the settler colonial motive in creating a narrative stand trivial in front of Israel’s deprivation of Palestinians of their right to adequate housing by attacking their house’s foundations, especially in Wadi Hilweh neighborhood in Silwan. 

The homes in Wadi Hilweh, Silwan are cracking up due to Israeli excavations.

Wadi Hilweh is the neighborhood in Silwan that is closest to Al-Aqsa Mosque and hence the most affected by Israeli excavations. Houses in this town, especially around the neighborhood’s main street, that spans approximately 500 meters, have huge cracks in their walls and roofs and may fall apart any minute now. 35 houses have documented damages in different degrees. For  the Israeli apartheid regime this is a positive side effect as it advances their aim to force Palestinians to a point where they “self-evict” from Silwan. This is a form of displacement through the creation of a coercive environment in order to ethnically cleanse Jerusalem’s Palestinian neighborhoods, continuing the Nakba. 

The #OngoingNakba by demolition orders, Jabal Al-Mukabber

The Israeli policy of not issuing building permits to Palestinians in Jerusalem is part of an overall strategy to Judaize the city and displace its Palestinian population. The policy is aimed at limiting the growth of the Palestinian population in Jerusalem, while promoting the expansion of Jewish-Israeli settlements. This policy has been in place for decades, and it has resulted in the displacement of thousands of Palestinian families who have been forced to demolish their own homes or face the prospect of having them demolished by the Israeli authorities.

Families watch as Israel demolishes their homes in Jabal Al-Mukabber.

Near the end of January 2023, Jerusalemites in Jabal Al-Mukabber started a general strike in the town against the hundreds of demolition orders Israel has issued against homes in this town. Israel triggered the strike when the occupation forces demolishedtwo homes and announced the imminent demolition of another 14 homes days after.  This strike came after hundreds of cases of demolition orders, which forced the Jerusalemites to choose between demolishing their own homes by themselves or paying the Israeli government to implement its own orders. This “choice” is an apparent attempt to mentally break Palestinians, driving them away from building and living in their own lands. This accounts as a coercive environment leading to the displacement of Palestinians continuing their ethnic cleansing. 

The situation in Jabal Al-Mukabber is just one example of Israel’s wider policy of settler colonialism, the capture of Palestinian land and its discriminatory policies towards the Palestinian people. Palestinians, forced to live under Israeli occupation, struggle on many fronts, including limited access to healthcare, education, and employment, as well as constant military checkpoints and restrictions on their movements. As a result, Israel has created a system of apartheid where Jewish settlers enjoy full rights and privileges, while the apartheid regime treats Palestinians as second-class citizens.

Cutting off the edges – Kufr Aqab resists the #OngoingNakba by exclusion and ghettoization.

With the 1967 Israeli occupation, Israel annexed the entirety of the eastern region of Jerusalem, subjecting it completely to Israeli jurisdiction. However, Israel excluded 22 villages from the Jerusalem Governorate by separating them from the city of Jerusalem via the Israeli apartheid wall. This separation is an obvious manifestation of Israel’s apartheid regime. It ghettoised many neighbourhoods in Jerusalem, such as Kufr Aqab. Israel also furthers its settler colonial goals with this exclusion, as many Jerusalemites, who Israel forbids to build or maintain their homes, resort to these excluded villages and neighbourhoods to build their homes. As a result, they are heavily overcrowded. 

Kufr Aqab is one of the most prominent among the excluded areas in Jerusalem. It lies between the two cities of Ramallah and Jerusalem. Before its occupation and later on exclusion, it used to be an agricultural village with a low population density. Nowadays, it is the home of almost a 100,000 Palestinians that lack decent services. Israel made Kufr Aqab one of  the most densely populated urban- neighborhoods in Palestine after they abruptly declared in 2011 that they will not control any construction in the area anymore. Hence, Palestinians already suffering from construction and building restrictions in Jerusalem resorted to living in Kufr Aqab en masse.  This calculated move to push Palestinians from Jerusalem to move to Kufr Aqab as well as the ghettoization of Kufr Aqab are part of Israel’s policies of ethnic cleansing and apartheid. 

Take action against the #OngoingNakba. 

The #OngoingNakba in Jerusalem and Palestine will continue as long as international complicity offers a lifeline to Israeli apartheid. It is time to take action for a free Palestine and to ensure all our refugees will return to their homes. 

Participate in our #EndEthnicCleansing campaign, and during May join the commemorations and protests to end the #OngoingNakba. Share information about the continuing ethnic cleansing in Palestine. Participate in the BDS campaigns, such as:

  • The campaign to demand the Basque company CAF stop its involvement in the expansion of the illegal Jerusalem Light Rail. As it is serving Israel’s colonial settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem.  
  • The campaign to end Hyundai’s complicity in Israel’s ethnic cleansing as well as the complicity of other corporations, such as JCB, Volvo and Caterpillar.  
  • Support the call for a comprehensive and immediate military embargo on Israel, as the apartheid regime relies heavily on imported weapons as well as the money coming in through the export of its own military technology to sustain the continuous oppression of Palestinians…