Nir Hasson, a top Israeli journalist who covers Jerusalem and the Palestinian community, has criticised the brutal actions of police and soldiers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound over the past week. In the liberal English-language publication Haaretz, he called for a probe into the "terrible actions" against civilians, women, and journalists.
The journalist appeared on The Ray Hanania Radio Show on the US Arab Radio Network to say the violence began when a group of religious Israelis entered the Temple Mount "with political agenda". He said how the conflict was handled shows the change in policies of the current government led by Naftali Bennet from those of former PM Benjamin Netanyahu.
He noted that the public opinion in Israel is that former PM Netanyahu had an interest in escalating tensions and using it to build his coalition (government). "Current PM Naftali Bennett has not exploited the tensions for political benefit."
Netanyahu's party Likud has been campaigning that Bennet's government cannot keep Israel safe. It is in Naftali's best interest to keep things calm as possible because violence is always reciprocated with terror attacks, noted the journalist.
"Police were seen beating civilians and journalists. They overstepped and mishandled the response to the protests," said Hasson. Videos of police using clubs to hit women and a man standing with his son were seen. He stated that he cannot be more critical of the Jerusalem Police. The Temple Mount and Al-Aqsa compound have consistently seen clashes around Ramadan for the past five or six years.
Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem holds great importance to Jews and Muslims alike. The week of Easter and Passover occurring together had escalated tensions in the region. Hasson added the violence will not lead to another Intifada (resistance movement).
The leading journalist observed that the violence did not reach the level it has in the past. He was referring to the events of 2000 when former Israeli General and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon led a battalion of soldiers and police to the Haram Al-Sharif. The brutality provoked the first Intifada in September 2020. When three religious Holy days converged this year, conflict of a great scale was expected.
About the conflict between Israel and Palestine, Hasson said that there are extremists on both sides who want to exploit any event to fuel clashes. Some groups and NGOs are trying to influence the Israeli government to change the status quo. But, they are not mainstream.