Angry protests over a Quran burning and the cost of Syria’s normalisation – here’s the Middle East this week.
This week, the West Bank refugee camp of Jenin was devastated after being attacked for the second time in two weeks. Angry protests in the Middle East over a man’s burning of the Quran in Sweden. And Syria’s normalisation may be at the cost of the victims of its civil war. Here’s the Middle East this week.
It was reminiscent of the year 2002. That’s when Israeli forces last attacked the Jenin refugee camp with as much force as they did this past week. The latest raid lasted two days, killing 12 Palestinians, including at least three children.
Ahmad Abu Hweileh, 56, a resident of the camp, is thankful many young men were spared in the attack. The generation who grew up after the 2002 incursion, he said, are the ones continuing the struggle against the Israeli occupation.
“We lived this in 2002. The most important thing is that the young men are safe,” he said.
Some international condemnation came in, as Palestinians decried Israel’s actions as a war crime. Aid groups also sounded alarm over the scale of the attack, as bulldozers ploughed through streets and buildings, preventing life-saving medical access from reaching victims of all ages.
But analysts say the United States’ unwavering support for Israel has emboldened the far-right Israeli government’s escalating violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. In the aftermath of the raid, the White House again reiterated Israel’s “right to defend” itself. Earlier in the week, the pair signed a $3bn deal for Israel’s third purchase of F-35 stealth fighter jets, which will be financed through US military aid.
More than 3000 Palestinians were forced to evacuate the Jenin refugee camp, only to return to rubble and ruin. The camp houses thousands of Palestinians, descendants of people dispossessed when Israel was created in 1948, and who live wedged next to each other in small residential buildings with tight alleyways and adjacent rooftops. As the refugees returned, they got set to rebuilding their homes right away, taking the burden of the military’s destruction upon themselves.
Quran burning fuels ire
The backlash was immediate after Salwan Momika, an Iraqi refugee who fled to Sweden several years ago, tore up and set alight pages of the Islamic holy book as Muslims celebrated the Eid al-Adha festival.
Governments in the Middle East and North Africa issued strong statements and summoned Swedish ambassadors in their countries. Iran said it would refrain from sending a new ambassador to Sweden in protest over the incident. And protests rocked Baghdad, where thousands of Iraqis set fire to a rainbow-coloured flag representing the LGBTQ community, and instead held the Quran, chanting “Yes, yes to the Quran!”
The 57-country-strong Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) even convened an emergency meeting over the burning, saying international law and other collective measures are needed to prevent future incidents involving the desecration of the Quran.
Source : Aljazeera