Blinken travels to Israel to shore up ceasefire as violence against Palestinians continues
Jerusalem, Israel – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived on Tuesday in Jerusalem, the first stop on a Middle East tour aimed at cementing the Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire. But as the world breathes a sigh of relief, Palestinians say the violence is continuing behind the scenes.
"At the request of President Biden, I am traveling to Jerusalem, Ramallah, Cairo, and Amman to meet with the parties to support their efforts to solidify a ceasefire. The United States has engaged in intensive diplomacy to bring an end to the hostilities and reduce tensions," Blinken announced on Twitter.
In a statement, President Biden said the Secretary of State's trip would focus on ensuring the US' "ironclad commitment to Israel’s security" as well as providing humanitarian assistance to the people – but not the governing authority – of Gaza.
The ceasefire came after over 248 Palestinians were killed in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza. More than 60 of those victims were children. According to the UN, 74,000 Palestinians in Gaza were left homeless after the bombings. In Israel, 12 people, including two children, died after the 11 days of conflict.
But the ceasefire does not mean there is peace in the region. In fact, Palestinians in East Jerusalem have continued to document abuses by Israeli security forces.
According to The Intercept, Israeli police have planned mass arrests of 500 Palestinian protesters, the first 74 of whom were already detained on Monday. A video even shows an 11-year-old Palestinian boy being arrested in East Jerusalem by Israeli police while his sister pleads for his release.
As the world turns its eyes away following the ceasefire agreement, Palestinian activists say Israel has timed the campaign, deemed "Operation Law and Order," to pass under the global radar.
Palestinian activists document continued violence in East Jerusalem
Palestinian author and poet Mohammed El-Kurd, who lives in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, gave his impressions of the situation on the ground in an interview with Democracy Now. In addition to the arrests, he detailed the continued invasions of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam, as well as the blockade of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
He also spoke about Israeli settlers forcibly taking over Palestinian homes, including in his own. For around a decade, an American-Israeli man named Jacob Fauci from Long Island has lived in part of his house, El-Kurd explained. When El-Kurd's sister confronted the man in a now-viral video, he replied, "And if I don’t steal [your home], someone else is going to steal it."
The Palestinian activist said these settlers wouldn't be able to carry out the expulsion campaign "without being emboldened by the Israeli occupation forces, by an Israeli judicial system that is inherently colonial and supremacist, and by American tax dollars." The US gives Israel billions of dollars in military aid every year.
El-Kurd explained that Palestinians in the region feel the sting of Israeli brutality every day. "Colonial violence is still business as usual in occupied Palestine at large," he concluded.
Cover photo: Collage: Screenshot/Twitter/muna.kurd, IMAGO / UPI Photo