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A new awakening is shining from occupied Jerusalem. It started with the advent of the holy month of Ramadan and is removing the sense of despair that has descended upon the Muslim world. This new dawn brings hope and the certainty of ultimate victory.

The Palestinians surprise me every year as, with sickening regularity, the Israeli occupation forces attack them during the Blessed Month, especially in the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa. The attacks were more widespread last year, when the “Sword of Jerusalem” battle took place. This came to mind when heavily armed Zionist occupation forces stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque, emptied it of worshippers in a brutal way, closed all of its gates and placed iron barricades at Bab Al-Amud Gate following calls by extremist Jewish settlers to storm the mosque and slaughter goats to “celebrate” Passover.

I also remembered that the occupation authorities have banned the Islamic Movement in Israel led by Sheikh Raed Salah since 2015, and banned the bus convoys carrying Palestinian worshippers to Al-Aqsa Mosque. Institutions serving the mosque were also banned, which convinces me more than ever that the occupation forces work in collusion with the extremist settler groups, especially under the current right-wing Israeli government.

However, the Palestinians have recorded a new epic to be added to their heroic record by countering the Israelis and forcing them to open the gates of Al-Aqsa Mosque. They succeeded after violent confrontations, which led to more than 150 being injured by steel-coated rubber bullets and tear gas fired by Israeli troops. More than 400 worshippers were arrested, most of them from the Palestinian land occupied since 1948.

This is an important point, because resistance to the Israeli occupation is no longer limited to the besieged Gaza Strip; it covers all of the occupied Palestinian territories, including Israel.

The occupation government believed that it could neutralise its Palestinian citizens with a façade of advantages of which the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are deprived. The latter are deterred from resistance by the treacherous Palestinian Authority security forces owned by Israel. This was also evident two weeks before the storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque, when four resistance operations targeted the major occupation cities of Tel Aviv, Beersheba, Hadera and Bnei Brak, away from the prying eyes of the PA security forces which coordinate their work with the Zionist enemies to track, detain and imprison Palestinian resistance fighters, and even peaceful anti-occupation activists.

These four operations shattered Israeli security myths and stability within the settler-colonial entity. They also struck a blow against the morale of the illegal settlers across the occupied Palestinian territories. This brought back memories of the First Palestinian Intifada because they targeted areas in 1948-occupied Palestine that Israel considers to be within its own secure but as yet undeclared borders. Even an attempt by Israel to recreate its 2002 siege of Jenin Refugee Camp failed when the resistance to the latest military assault shocked the enemy and it withdrew its troops to avoid further humiliation. The Jenin camp has become an icon of Palestinian resistance due to the bravery and persistence of its people.

It is clear that Israel and its brutal occupation regime only understand the language of force. This has been proven by the Palestinians in Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the 1948-occupied territories. Israel is blinded by its own vanity and arrogance from seeing the rapidly changing facts on the ground, so it continues to kill and abuse Palestinians, build illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, impose a “cruel system” of apartheid, violate international laws and ignore international resolutions. Its state terrorism is born out of the belief that the people of occupied Palestine have surrendered, a belief bolstered by the normalising Arab states. No wonder that legitimate armed and widespread resistance comes as a shock.

The Palestinians struggling valiantly for freedom deserve a free national leadership that appreciates their sacrifices rather than condemning legitimate resistance to Israel’s military occupation; a leadership that seeks to restore their usurped land and rights rather than coordinating with Israel’s oppressive security forces. The current leadership in Ramallah, the Oslo leadership, is only there to protect the Zionist state and illegal settlers.

The fact that Mahmoud Abbas and his Oslo men still lead the people of Palestine is a stigma for every free Palestinian. They are an obstacle to the liberation of Palestine, as are the discredited Oslo Accords, from which the people of Palestine have gained nothing but ruin.

The various resistance factions must unite to create a new entity in place of the Palestine Liberation Organisation under a new, vigorous leadership ready to abandon Oslo and take on the challenge of its catastrophic consequences. Every Palestinian will, I’m sure, support such a bold leadership. This much was obvious by the broad support for the “Sword of Jerusalem” last year. The people chose resistance in a public statement before the whole world in order to challenge Israel’s brutal military occupation and liberate Palestine.

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