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"From the Palestinians’ perspective, the land is more precious than life"

Excerpt of a column by Muwaffaq Matar, Fatah Revolutionary Council member and regular columnist for the official PA daily


Headline: “Jerusalem, Sheikh Jarrah”





“The Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem has not disappeared from the headlines, but the positions of the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and their sacrifices have returned the resolve of the neighborhood’s residents to the front – and it is no surprise, as civilian Muhammad (sic., Mahmoud) Salhiyeh determined that submitting to the Israeli occupation authorities’ racist and terrorist orders and willingly evacuating his home is treason (refers to attempted eviction of illegal Arab squatters from public land in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem on Jan. 17, 2022 -Ed.). He added to this a sit-in strike of him and his family members inside the home, and he threatened to burn and blow up the home with a cooking gas balloon if the Israeli terror and racism police would dare to break into it and to destroy it.


In an initial and quick analysis of the incident, there are those who are likely to reach the conclusion that Palestinian civilian and Jerusalem resident Muhammad (sic., Mahmoud) Salhiyeh is attempting to exert pressure on the occupation government and system, and in principle that is true. Others are likely to reach the conclusion that a realization of Salhiyeh’s threat constitutes extremism facing a critical situation, and that is also true. But the third side in the triangle of facts is that good Palestinian and Jerusalem resident Muhammad (sic., Mahmoud) Salhiyeh wanted to convey a message to the system of terror, racism, invasion, and terror (Israel) [parentheses in source]: The insistence of the heads of this system on carrying out ethnic cleansing, causing the Jerusalem residents to emigrate, and committing crimes before the eyes and ears of the so-called international community, will be met with critical positions and decisions by the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and by the Palestinians in general. The easiest of them will be sacrificing life, people, property, livelihood, and children for the sake of one inch of the land of Jerusalem, the capital of Palestine, the city of Allah, the city of peace, the city of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.Perhaps the invaders will understand that from the Palestinians’ perspective, the land is more precious than life…


Our patience has run out. The invaders need to leave, and not us, as we were created from the soil of this land and belong to the dynasty of [biblical] Adam who was created from its soil. We will not emigrate, we will not leave our homes, regardless of how powerful the destructive tornado of the Israeli racist settlers’ tiny terror state may be. You can give our flesh as food to the chains of your bulldozers and crush our bones, but not before we die honorably and proudly while defending our land and our homes. This is the message of Palestinian civilian and Jerusalem resident Salhiyeh…


From time to time, we are witness to events that take place on the ground. The little that can be said about them is that they appear like a prelude of [the eruption of] every active volcano; thick smoke rises and sparks fly and will yet fly… from places that the racist occupiers are not taking into account. This is because they have not learned the lesson of May 18 [2022], when the Palestinian people’s volcanoes erupted in every part of the land of Palestine (refers to Fatah/Hamas Riot and Rocket War 2021, in which Israeli Arabs violently rioted throughout Israel; see note below -Ed.).”






Fatah/Hamas Riot and Rocket War 2021 – On April 30, 2021, facing certain electoral defeat, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas cancelled the first PA elections scheduled in 15 years. Hamas, which expected to win the elections, denounced it as a “coup.” In need of a conflict to divert public discontent, Abbas artificially generated a crisis over Jerusalem. His Fatah party called for "raising the level of confrontation,” and Abbas' spokesman told Palestinians "the battle of all battles is here.” Jerusalem Arabs responded by attacking Jews with rocks and Molotov cocktails. Hamas, Abbas' political rival, could not allow Abbas to lead the battle, so on May 10, 2021, Hamas launched rocket barrages targeting Israeli population centers including Jerusalem. Over the next 11 days, Hamas and Islamic Jihad fired over 4,300 rockets into southern and central Israel from the Gaza Strip, killing 9 Israelis and 3 foreign nationals, and wounding hundreds. In response, Israel launched Operation Guardian of the Walls to target Hamas terror leaders and terror infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. Already in mid-April, a planned eviction of some Palestinian families illegally living in Jewish-owned buildings in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem had led to clashes between Palestinian residents and Israeli police. This dispute provided Palestinians with a pretext for violent rioting. Adding to the crisis, Israeli Arabs started rioting throughout Israel, especially in cities with a mixed Jewish and Arab population. Two Jews were murdered and many were wounded. According to Walla, an independent Israeli news site, 10 synagogues were wholly or partly burned down; fires were set in 112 Jewish homes and 1 Arab home mistaken for a Jewish home; 386 Jewish homes were plundered and 673 were damaged; 849 cars were set ablaze; and there were 5,018 rock-throwing attacks. In response, Jews started attacking Arabs and their properties as well, but on a much smaller scale. No mosques were burned; 13 Arab homes were damaged; 13 Arab-owned cars were burned; and there were 41 rock-throwing attacks by Jews. [Walla, May 16, 2021] The fighting between Israel and Hamas ended with a ceasefire on May 21, 2021.