Occupied East Jerusalem – When Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was shot lifeless on Might 11 whereas overlaying an Israeli raid on the Jenin refugee camp, north of the occupied West Financial institution, mourners rapidly gathered on the household house in occupied East Jerusalem.
As crowds streamed by means of the door to pay their respects, Abu Akleh’s household adorned the doorway with Palestinian flags and pictures of the veteran Al Jazeera journalist.
Associates cranked up nationalist Palestinian songs.
Inside hours, Israeli police had turned up on the Abu Akleh house in Beit Hanina demanding that the flags be taken down, the music turned off, and the nationalist chants silenced.
Two days later, related calls for have been enforced far more fiercely by Israeli forces.
When 1000’s of mourners gathered exterior St Joseph Hospital in Jerusalem to bid their beloved journalist farewell, dozens of Israeli police attacked the funeral procession with batons and rubber bullets. The police focused the pallbearers who struggled to maintain the coffin, which was draped with a Palestinian flag, from falling to the bottom.
“They kicked us, hit us with wood batons, and launched rubber bullets inside shut vary,” mentioned Fadi Mtour, one of many pallbearers who carried Shireen’s coffin that day.
“Irrespective of how arduous they beat us, we needed to hold that coffin from falling. It grew to become an emblem of our dignity and lives. If Shireen’s casket fell, we might, too,” mentioned Mtour, a 41-year-old Jerusalemite who usually attends demonstrations.
“There was a lot hatred and violence … like nothing I’ve ever skilled,” he mentioned.
The rationale for the Israeli aggression on the funeral was the Palestinian flag, and what Abu Akleh represented when it comes to Palestinian id, Mtour defined.
“They [Israeli authorities] are afraid of the Palestinian flag as a result of it represents our id, the identical means that Shireen, her funeral and life did,” mentioned Mtour, whose 18-year-old son was additionally overwhelmed on the pinnacle in the course of the funeral, sustaining an damage that required a number of stitches.
“They have been able to commit a bloodbath to deliver down the Palestinian flag,” Mtour mentioned, including that even ladies and youngsters have been overwhelmed for waving the flag.
Israeli media reported that Jerusalem’s police chief had ordered his officers to forestall the waving of the Palestinian flag and to confiscate flags displayed on the funeral.
Persevering with suppression
Related scenes of horror unfolded simply days later on the funeral of Walid al-Sharif, a younger Palestinian man who lastly succumbed to wounds sustained on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound final month.
Once more, Israeli police waded by means of the crowds of mourners, confiscating Palestinian flags and beating folks. Greater than 70 Palestinians have been injured, in response to Palestinian media stories.
Israeli forces’ confiscation of Palestinian flags has continued regardless of the Jerusalem Justice of the Peace Courtroom ruling final yr that flying the Palestinian flag shouldn’t be a prison offence in Israel.
The ruling got here after a protester was injured and 4 others have been arrested for elevating the Palestinian flag throughout an illustration within the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah – a flashpoint on the centre of a decades-long battle between Palestinian households and Israel authorities who’ve tried to evict Palestinian residents from their properties.
Palestinian activists have usually reported being focused when waving Palestinian flags in Jerusalem. They’ve additionally witnessed a rise in Israeli efforts to confiscate Palestinian flags and to punish those that try to lift them.
“We aren’t allowed to lift the Palestinian flag on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound,” mentioned Ruqaya, a 52-year-old Palestinian girl from the Previous Metropolis in Jerusalem.
“Those that strive, at all times wrap a keffiyeh round their face to maintain their id hidden,” she mentioned, referring to the black and white checked scarf that’s thought-about one other image of Palestinian id.
“Due to the acute Israeli response to waving a flag, Palestinian youth – my sons included – have taken it upon themselves to proceed to lift it at each alternative,” she added.
Ahmad Safadi, a Jerusalemite activist and member of town’s nationwide and civil motion committee, has usually been focused for elevating the Palestinian flag.
“I’ve been detained, overwhelmed and my [charity and media] organisation has been shut down a number of instances as a result of I hold waving the flag,” Safadi mentioned.
He additionally insisted on carrying the flag in the course of the funerals of Abu Akleh and al-Sharif, as a result of it’s “an emblem of our Palestinian id and sovereignty”.
“They’ll by no means cease me,” Safadi mentioned.
“I’ll proceed to lift the flag excessive.”
The Israeli assault on Palestinian id and establishments stretches again 20 years, in response to Palestinian lawyer and analyst Diana Buttu.
She referenced the funeral of well-known Palestinian politician Faisal Husseini in 2001, when “a whole lot of 1000’s of individuals gathered carrying the Palestinian flag and there have been no assaults in the course of the funeral”.
However, shortly after his funeral, issues modified.
Israeli authorities shut down the Orient Home – the political headquarters of the Palestinian folks in East Jerusalem, that was established by Husseini and had turn out to be an emblem of Palestinian tradition and id.
Suppression of Palestinian id has been on the rise since, Buttu mentioned, including that it reached a peak in 2017 with then-US President Donald Trump’s administration saying that it might recognise Jerusalem because the capital of Israel.
“That successfully emboldened Israel and we noticed the massive clampdown on Palestinian id, flags, and hues,” Buttu mentioned.
Since then, “there’s been an try to push Palestinians out and to crush their id. And Shireen was very a lot an emblem of Palestinian id,” she mentioned.
“However all of their makes an attempt merely present how afraid of the flag [and what it represents] they’re.”