Damascus gate; the pain of leaving - KEMAL ÖZTÜRK

Damascus gate; the pain of leaving


It is as if they know what is happening street by street. They are explaining what they experienced in every street, in every neighborhood. “They came and seized this place to make a monument saying 'there is a Jewish saint's tomb here.' They took the houses there with the excuse of security. They paid three times the value and bought that house there. There were no Jewish settlements in this area, now it is completely in their hands.”

Anadolu Agency's (AA) two young and skilled Jerusalem correspondents Turgut Alp Poyraz and Esat Fırat, are witnessing the practices of the Israeli state occupying Eastern Jerusalem step by step, contrary to the United Nations agreement.

Damascus Gate, more than 300 executions

All the stories we heard fall heavy on my shoulders while walking slowly in the streets of old Jerusalem which feels abandoned. Israel is now more aggressive and open with its policy of the Judaisation and isolation of Jerusalem which has been going on for quite some time now. Because there is nothing left for it to be afraid of. Occupying land, killing Palestinians in the middle of the street, bombing Gaza… who was and is going to stop them from doing what they want?

As I was leaving through the ancient city's biggest entrance, the Damascus Gate, Poyraz said more than 300 young people were killed here in the last two years, I froze.

Israeli soldiers have their finger on the trigger and with the authority they have from the state, they can kill anybody who they have the slightest doubt about. They killed more than 300 young people in front of everybody using the knife attacks as an excuse. They exiled their families from Jerusalem and razed their homes with bulldozers. Now, mothers are afraid to let their children out on the streets.

The Damascus Gate…

I stopped there and looked around. Tens of Israeli soldiers, finger on the trigger, are checking the entry and exists of the people whose numbers have now become scarce. We were going to leave Jerusalem that day. I took one last photograph of the Damascus Gate. This place is where the most painful stories of Jerusalem are told.

On the day I was returning to Turkey, an Israeli soldier shot and killed a 16-year-old girl named Fatima at the very same time I snapped a photograph. He claimed that the girl was going to commit a knife attack yet, they couldn't find a knife on her.

The Damascus Gate has turned in to the execution field of innocent children.

The Hamas-Fatah fight

I was curious about how the Israel-Turkey agreement, Hamas's latest declaration was received by the Fatah administration. Thus, we met up with Central Committee member Abbas Zaki, an important figure in Fatah, in Ramallah. I asked him what he thought about both matters.

He passed off the Turkey-Israel agreement saying, “It is the decision of a sovereign country, I can't say anything.” However, he flew in to rage about the Hamas declaration. He couldn't stop criticizing it.

I stopped him when he said, “The contents of the text are actually the same as all the theories we advocate.” I said, “That's great, then you can unite now, Hamas is what you want. This way, the fight between brethren will be over.”

He laughed bitterly. He made me realize just how impossible it would be.

How impossible could it be for the Palestinians to unite? During the conversation, the Fatah authority criticized Hamas more than it criticized Israel. Currently Fatah has been cutting Gaza's electricity, workers' wages and Hamas are arresting those who side with Fatah in Gaza. Fatah wants Hamas to be terminated and the Gaza administration to be handed over to them. Yet, Hamas is insisting that it is a separate power. There is bloodshed between them, they killed each other in the previous years. This is how impossible it is for them to come together. Still, one can have hope in God.

The biggest problem of the Palestine cause, separations

The Palestine cause has been lost not because of Israel's power but because of the separations in the Muslim world. Today, Israel is still experiencing its most comfortable term because of the division among the Muslim world, the separation of Palestinians. Look at the countries around Israel. Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Lebanon are losing blood as part of the close combat. The administration in Egypt has been seized through a coup. Who can tell Israel to stop? Who is it going to be afraid when a child is killed at the Damascus Gate?

Therefore, the blood of innocent children killed at Damascus Gate are not only the responsibility of the Israeli soldiers, but also all Muslims who have involved their personal issues in the Palestine cause. In other words, nobody is innocent.

The followed debates in Turkey

While he was speaking, at some point, the Fatah authority mentioned the recent debates in Turkey. “We read in the media that there is a conflict between Mr. Erdoğan, Abdullah Gül and Ahmet Davutoğlu. It saddens us greatly, there is no need for this.”

What do you say?

I said, “Thank God there problem is nothing next to [Hamas leader Khaled] Mashal and Abbas's problem.” I won't write the rest out of politeness. However, I stopped and thought. Recently, some people are busy disputing the figures around the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) more than the occupier Israel. So he does have a point.

'Do not dispute, your strength would depart'

We took a stroll around the quiet streets of Jerusalem at night and sat on a staircase with my friend Mustafa Ekici. Our youth was filled with memories of getting beaten up by police at Beyazıt Square for Palestine. Now, the Al-Aqsa Mosque stands in front of us all alone; all we can do is look at it and weep. Not being able to do anything, just sitting and watching all that is happening hurts us greatly. We would probably feel better if we were beaten up. But we can't even do that.

Everything is happening because of the Muslims who are disputing each other. Now, the seeds of separation are being sowed around the strongest political movement of the Muslim world, the AK Party, and it is spreading everywhere. Nobody seems to remember the Quranic verse, “do not dispute and [thus] lose courage and [then] your strength would depart,” (al-Anfal, 46). Just like what happened to the Palestinians.


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