Israel-Palestine: the 15 essential MEE stories you may have missed

People gather amid the rubble of Al-Sharouk Tower in Gaza City, destroyed by Israeli air strikes (AFP)

MEE Staff

Middle East Eye  /  May 21, 2021

After 15 days of nonstop coverage, here are 15 must-reads, videos and analysis to make sense of what’s happened.

After 15 days of 24/7 coverage of the events across Gaza, the West Bank and Israel, we are bringing our live blog to a close.

But with so many fast-moving events on several fronts, there are undoubtedly stories and videos that may have passed you by.

Here’s a round-up of 15 of Middle East Eye’s most essential stories, videos and analysis to help make sense of the past 15 days: 

  1. The latest crisis started when Israeli settlers and far-right groups, backed by Israeli police, attacked and intimidated Palestinians in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, including residents who were facing imminent, forcible evictions.

From past to present, here’s everything you need to know about Sheikh Jarrah.

  1. As Palestinians were attacked in Sheikh Jarrah and as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan reached its climax, Israeli forces raided Al-Aqsa Mosque, firing tear gas and rubber bullets. Here’s a full account of how the symbolic mosque became an epicentre of a long weekend of violence.

But why did Israeli forces storm the mosque?

  1. Was the storming of al-Aqsa Mosque by Israeli soldiers a war crime? Ian Cobain outlinedseveral international laws and treaties under which attacks on cultural sites during armed conflict are considered to be a war crime.
  2. On 10 May, Israel started launching air strikes on Gaza in response to rockets fired at its cities by Hamas. But was that really the only reason? A quick explainer on why Israel bombed Gaza: 
  3. And what exactly did the attack on Gaza have to do with internal Israeli politics? 

In a matter of days of air strikes, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to sabotage the formation of the “anyone but Bibi” coalition government that had been set to replace him, wrote veteran Israeli journalist Lili Galili.

  1. Richard Falk, a former UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, asked whether this was the beginning of the end of Israeli apartheid:

“I find it appropriate to recall Gandhi’s famous observation along these lines: ‘First, they ignore you, then they insult you, then they fight you, then you win’.”

  1. As violence flared across Gaza, Israel and the occupied territories, activists sounded the alarm over the distorted reporting in the mainstream media and language used by politicians. We put together a glossary of the most problematic terms.
  2. Standing in front of rubble in Gaza, ten-year-old Nadine Abdel-Taif asked MEE: “You see all of this. What do you expect me to do? Fix it? I’m only 10. I can’t even deal with this anymore.”
  3. As the Israeli bombardment of Gaza continued, its largest bookstore, Iqraa al-Jadeed, was demolished. Owner Shaaban Aslim said he had given up food in order to open his shop. “This was my dream,” he said.

A couple of days later, after the video went viral, a crowdfunding campaign raised more than $130,000 for Aslim to rebuild.

  1. In southern Israel, residents facedwailing sirens and shelling as Hamas and other armed groups launched thousands of rudimentary rockets across the border. 

“I know that in Gaza [it] is more difficult,” a resident in Sderot told MEE. “They don’t have the military power that we have and they don’t have anywhere to run. They have no shelters, but I feel that our destiny is similar.” 

  1. A day after Israeli jets brought downthe Al-Jalaa Tower in Gaza City where MEE staff worked, our correspondents Maha Husseini and Mohammed al-Hajjar reportedon the Abu Hatab family. Ten members of the family, including eight children, were killed when Israeli jets struck their building in the al-Shati refugee camp without warning.

Mohamed al-Hadidi, who lived in the building, lost his wife and three of his five children in the attack, while his five-month-old son, Omar, was rescued. A fifth child remained missing under the rubble.

“I was shocked when I received the news. I was paralyzed and horrified and fell to the ground crying,” Hadidi told MEE at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza.

  1. MEE’s Editor-in-Chief David Hearst wroteabout how the developments of the past two weeks have completely upended the conflict: 

“The contours of the new struggle have already been determined. It has Jerusalem at its geographical centre, and Palestinian citizens of Israel as its foot soldiers. They will be backed by a generation with nothing to lose.”

  1. From Mark Ruffalo to Gal Gadot, we put together a round-up of celebrity reactions to the ongoing violence. While some called for action and posted tributes, others shared photos or videos with their feelings and received quite the backlash on social media.
  2. More than 50 residents of the Hanadi Tower in Gaza City were given two hours to evacuate their children and belongings before Israeli air strikes demolished the 13-storey high-rise.

“What do we do to them so that they’d do this to our home? There are no signs of life left,” said one of the residents who was searching through rubble for clothes or anything that could help her family. “All my memories – 14 years we’ve lived in this building. They’ve erased all our memories.”

  1. Joseph Massad, professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History at Columbia University, broke down how and whythe west continues to support Israel’s “right to defend itself”.

“Palestinians are rarely identified in the western white liberal lexicon as the indigenous people of Palestine undergoing ethnic cleansing, and Israeli Jews are never exposed as Jewish colonists committing ethnic cleansing . . . This is intended to erase the Zionist colonial war against the Palestinians since the 1880s as not the first cause of their calamity and their Nakba.”