Since 1948, Israel has tended to follow a policy of maintaining a Jewish majority in the city of Jerusalem and so its settlers can control all sources in the occupied city. The Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem are being attacked and demolished by the Israeli settlers and soldiers as well.
Shireen’s Coffin Revives the Spirit of the Holy City
The funeral of Shireen Abu Aqleh, Al-Jazeera correspondent in Palestine, who was killed by an Israeli sniper on May 11, 2022, marked an important stage in the history of the question of Palestine under Israeli settler-colonial regime over the identity of the city of Jerusalem. The city, which was occupied by Israel during the 1948 war, was subjected to many stages of Judaization, exclusion and marginalization with the aim of excluding it from any phase of settlement of this conflict.
The unprecedented Palestinian public presence emerged in its intensity and heroic response to Israel, and the brutal repression that targeted the coffin and mourners by the Israeli forces. The liberation of Jerusalem from the Israeli sovereignty and the imposition of Palestinian popular sovereignty, albeit temporarily, were the results that appeared to the whole world as Israel and its military forces failed to tighten its control over the city of Jerusalem, or to stop the flood of mourners who came to participate from all parts in the West Bank and Jerusalem, proving that the identity of the city was and still is an Arab and Islamic one.
Palestine witnessed many funerals with enormous mourners such as the funeral of Abdul Qader Al-Hussaini in 1948 and Omar Al-Kasek in 1989 but it’s the first time for Palestinian people to witness a funeral where the battle was for the sovereignty of the coffin. The same scene repeated again when the Israeli forces attacked funerals of the martyrs Walid Al-Sharif from Jerusalem and Ghufran Warasneh from Hebron.
The Palestinian Funerals as Tool for Demonstration
The touching funeral to the iconic journalist Abu Akleh was distinguished from others by the courageous response to the brutality of the Israeli occupation. The size of the national and emotional feelings, the unlimited pain, sorrows and oppression, in addition to the Palestinian grievances, determination and challenge, and the overwhelming love that the Palestinians have for their martyrs and icons, the funeral turned into a real and comprehensive battle over sovereignty with Israel.
The US-based Foreign Policy Magazine highlighted on the Israeli attacks against Shireen Abu Akleh’s funeral by saying that Israel’s actions seem to indicate it is more concerned about the long-lasting impact of large public funerals of Palestinian icons than potential backlash by human rights groups and the international community.
The Battle of Sovereignty in Jerusalem
The repeated attacks on the Palestinian funerals constituted a victory for the Palestinians in the battle of image and narrative with Israel. The Israeli behavior revealed that there was an Israeli political decision that the government made and the security services implemented without a shadow of hesitation. The Israeli attack on the funeral of the martyr Walid Al-Sharif and his mourners two days after Shirin’s funeral, and the confrontations that took place, resulted in the injury of more than seventy Palestinians and the arrest of about one hundred Palestinian young men and girls.
It is clear from what is happening that the matter is related to Israel’s attempts to impose its total sovereignty on Jerusalem as eternal capital of Israel, which is reflected in the details of daily life in the city of Jerusalem, and includes attempts to Israelite curricula and education, and to impose Hebrew names on streets, historical memorials, and public facilities. The imposition of the Israeli sovereignty also includes the simplest details that would exclude any aspect of Palestinian presence, such as raising the Palestinian flag or chanting slogans, or wearing the Palestinian Kuffia.
Israel aims to prevent any phenomenon that would renew the Palestinian presence in the city of Jerusalem. The funerals of the martyrs in Jerusalem have always constituted a turning point into a state of great popular anger represented in demonstrations against the Israeli army and the Israeli police, which gives a state of revival of the spirit of the Palestinian uprising in city again. Therefore, the Palestinians faced an Israeli attack from tens of thousands of soldiers and policemen after the funeral of Shireen Abu Aqleh, and then it was repeated with others who were killed by Israel.