by Adam Keller
Yesterday was celebrated throughout the Muslim world – including the Palestinian Occupied Territories – the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of the month of Ramadan. And with the end of this month there also came to their end the special Ramadan easing of restrictions which the state of Israel and its armed forces granted the Palestinian population on the occasion of Ramadan.
Exactly a month ago, General Eitan Dangot, Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, met with the representatives of the Palestinian Authority, so as to inform them of the special favors which Chief of the General Staff Benny Gantz has seen fit to recommend for them and which Minister of Defense Ehud Barak has seen fit to approve. These measures were undertaken as part of the policies intended on improving the way of life for Palestinians in the Judea and Samaria region.
As at the time reported proudly on the Israel Defense Forces blog, it was decreed that no less than 200 Palestinians be allowed to travel abroad via Ben Gurion Airport; that during Ramadan the Beit Mishpat crossing to Ramallah be open to Palestinian traffic, as would be Gate 107 near Qalqiliya; and that during Ramadan, trucks carrying supplies will be able to travel freely between the Judea and Samaria Region and the Jordan Valley. Also, in a most generous good will gesture, it was decreed that for the duration of the Ramadan period, no less than 2,000 Palestinians be able to pray at Temple Mount during weekdays.
As for Fridays, it was decided that Palestinian residents of the Judea and Samaria Region and who are men aged over 50 and women aged over 45 would be able to enter the Temple Mount for prayer without any restrictions. For men married with children who are over the age of 45 and women married with children who are over the age of 30 it would be more complicated, they would have the option of asking for a special prayer permit and if granted it would be allowed to pray in Jerusalem. And as for men younger than 45 and women younger than 30, they would just have to wait some years for implementation of Israel's famed policy of free religious worship in Jerusalem, for which Netanyahu got such a wonderful standing ovation on Capitol Hill…
But now Ramadan has ended and the time of leniency with it, and now the checkpoints and gates will close down, and there will be no further prayer permits, and no further trucks with supplies sent to the Jordan Valley.
At the end of this month, the Palestinians will go to the UN - as well as holding mass demonstrations on the ground. They intend to express, in a clear and unequivocal way, that they are not content with an easing of restrictions which an Israeli Chief of Staff graciously recommends and an Israeli Defense Minister graciously approves. At the end of this month, the Palestinians will demand at the UN - and on the ground - to be a free people and live in their own independent state. A state in whose territory there will be no checkpoint or gate manned by Israeli soldiers, with the Jordan Valley part of its sovereign territory to which Palestinians would be able to send trucks of goods at any time of the year, and also the mosques in East Jerusalem would be part of its territory where Palestinians of all ages could pray without needing anyone's permission, and their state would also have an international airport from where all Palestinians could take off to wherever they choose as of right. In short, the Chief of Staff of Israel's armed forces would no longer have anything to do with improving the way of life for Palestinians in the Judea and Samaria region, but rather this issue would be given over exclusively to the government of their own sovereign state.
And how would the Israeli Defense Forces respond to the audacity of Palestinians who are not satisfied with the easing of restrictions granted to them by the army? According to news published daily in the papers, the soldiers are intensively training in order to respond to that threat. Two weeks ago a Ma'ariv correspondent was present during one of these exercises, held in the Nablus area, where the commander told him "We practiced using non-lethal weapons, but still in the scenario of our exercise three demonstrators were already killed". Later, the army started providing weapons to the settlers, who were authorized to use them in case of a crowd of Palestinian demonstrators crossing a "red line" which was demarked around each of the settlements. And dogs are also to be used by settlers against the threat of Palestinian demonstrators - on TV the head of the Judea and Samaria Dog Handlers Unit reiterated that "A dog is an excellent biological weapon."
Meanwhile, the new school year opened throughout the State of Israel (and also in the settlements the state of Israel maintains in the Occupied Territories). On this occasion Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declared that the educational system would continue to focus on instilling the values of Zionism and Jewish Heritage and inoculate discipline. Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar added that he would strive to instill love of the Homeland, and even in kindergarten kids must learn to salute the national flag, and the dogs of course…
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|Liaquat Ali Khan|