Jerusalem police take down ‘terror inciting’ Palestinian park

The Arab East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Ras al-Amud © Baz Ratner
Israeli police cleared out a memorial garden that had been set up in east Jerusalem to commemorate the lives of Palestinian “martyrs” – reportedly, those who died participating in recent attacks against Israelis amid escalating tensions.

Unknown individuals planted trees and attached pictures of at least 47 Palestinian “martyrs” killed in a recent wave of violent attacks, according to Israeli media reports. The memorial was set up in the Ras al-Amud neighborhood. Police said that park had been taken over “without permit.”

Jerusalem authorities are referring to the people remembered at the memorial as terrorists, while many Palestinians celebrate them as heroes. This is not the first case of public support for what has become known as the “knife intifada,” with earlier reports saying that Palestinian authorities had even renamed streets in the West Bank in honor of some of the alleged attackers.

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On Tuesday, police and Jerusalem municipality forces removed all of the planted trees, pictures, and nearby graffiti in the neighborhood.

“The police will continue to act decisively against any show of support or incitement to terror anywhere in the country,” Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said, adding that those responsible for setting up the garden will be held accountable.

In a separate report, Fox News claimed that a UN-backed Palestinian charity known as the Union of Agricultural Work Committees planted more than 200 olive trees in the West Bank to honor Palestinian “martyrs” who died in the attacks against the Israelis.

“Through this event, we want to convey the message that we will hold on to the land, and that we will not forget the martyrs who sacrificed [their lives],” the channel quoted Aghsan Barghouti, a spokesman for the committee, as saying.

Tensions between Israelis and Palestinians have been escalating since the collapse of peace negotiations two years ago.

Knife violence carried out by Palestinians against the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and civilians have been on a rise, with the IDF escalating its responses to attacks.

In his most recent comments, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas asserted that work is being done to root out knife violence, while stressing, however, that talks on a two-state solution must be held in order for them to produce a meaningful impact.

Some 29 Israelis and four foreign nationals have lost their lives in the current wave of attacks, while around 188 Palestinians are said to have been killed by IDF fire.

One of more controversial incidents recently came to light due to a gruesome video uploaded in the end of March that shows an Israeli soldier finishing off a wounded Palestinian lying on the ground. The victim had reportedly been initially shot in retaliation for a stabbing attack, before being cold-bloodedly “executed” with another shot to the head.

Despite the global outrage, the Israeli soldier appeared to have the Jewish public’s support on his side, as a poll conducted by a local television station revealed that only 5 percent of participants said the soldier’s actions constituted murder. 

On Monday, pathologists concluded that the Palestinian, identified as Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, was killed by a gunshot to the head.

Meanwhile, an Israeli military tribunal has downgraded charges against the IDF soldier from murder to manslaughter. Meanwhile, the UN issued a statement calling the incident “a clear case of an extrajudicial execution.”

In addition, the issue of Palestinian homes being demolished by Israelis has also been attracting international criticism. One of the latest incidents involved Israel tearing down at least 41 structures, including an elementary school in the West Bank village of Khirbet Tana on March 4, which displaced 10 families and 36 people, including 11 children.

Overall, this year’s rate of Palestinian home demolition in the West Bank is the highest on record since 2009, while, at the same time, the expansion of the internationally condemned Israeli settlements in the occupied territories continues to grow.

READ MORE: UN slams Israel’s latest seizure of land in West Bank