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On holiday in Jerusalem Norsk Astrid:

The storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, shootings, terrorist attacks and violent demonstrations against controversial political reform have all put Israel on a full swing.

At the same time, Israel, and Jerusalem in particular, is a favorite destination for many tourists during Easter. Astrid Delhaug Norheim is one of those in Jerusalem right now. I noticed the security increase well.

– Armid: Occupation police guard Palestinians during prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount. Photo: Ammar Awad

Changed after storming the mosque

Nordheim, who works on a day-to-day basis as reporting director at the Center for Investigative Journalism, says they are prepared for the possibility of a number of demonstrations and blockades as a result of the violent anti-government demonstrations last week.

But after the storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque on Wednesday night, they felt that the mood in Jerusalem had changed.

Astrid Dahlhaug-Norheim on holiday in Jerusalem. Photo: TV 2

Astrid Dahlhaug-Norheim on holiday in Jerusalem. Photo: TV 2

They themselves lived about 500 meters from the mosque, which is located in Tempelhoiden in the city.

– We often fall asleep and wake up to news reports of clashes and tense situations. The rockets arrived from Gaza, Lebanon and the Golan Heights in Syria. None of the missiles posed any danger to Jerusalem, but we feel the tensions very well, says Nordheim.

Israel, for its part, attacked targets in Syria, Lebanon and Gaza.

The tour group has changed many plans and is trying to avoid areas where there might be clashes.

Tourists killed

– On Friday we thought we were going to Tel Aviv to be able to breathe, but on Friday evening the message came about a terrorist attack when someone burst into the crowd along the beach, says Nordheim.

Three tourists were killed.

– We don’t know if the attack was aimed at tourists, but it definitely hit tourists, so the situation in Tel Aviv and for us has become more ambiguous, says Nordheim.

Eric Covendsland is a PhD candidate in Middle Eastern history at the University of Oxford. He notes that the situation has become more tense over the past year.

Basic dynamics

The celebration of Easter this year at the same time as Ramadan has heightened concern that the situation in Jerusalem could become even more acute.

– Although we get a lot of headlines, this is due to the underlying dynamics of the escalation that has been going on for so long, given Israel’s somewhat proactive approach to the West Bank, Kvindesland tells TV2.

He points out that Israel holds the largest number of cards in this situation. They control the area and they have the armed forces.


What’s a bit special now is that Israel is so divided. Cvindslanders say they have had the most right-wing government in a very long time, which is trying to reform the entire state apparatus from within.

The controversial reform would prompt sweeping changes in the judiciary. Among other things, the government will tighten its control over the Supreme Court. This led to violent demonstrations.

Fact: Political turmoil in Israel

* Benjamin Netanyahu took office on December 29 as prime minister in a coalition government with the narrowest possible majority of 61 deputies in the Knesset National Assembly.

Netanyahu and his right-wing Likud party depend on the support of several right-wing nationalist and ultra-Orthodox parties.

– In January, Justice Minister Yariv Levin presented long-announced proposals for judicial reform, a key part of the coalition government’s programme.

More powers for the Knesset

The bills have led hundreds of thousands of Israelis to participate in the largest demonstrations the country has seen in the past three months. The United States and other Western allies have also expressed concern.

Changes in the law will limit the power of the Supreme Court by allowing the Knesset to overturn rulings by a simple majority. Politicians will have more power to appoint Supreme Court justices.

* Critics of the Supreme Court believe that the court is left-wing and elitist, and that it interferes too much in politics, often putting minority rights above national interests.

settlements and military service

* Critics of the government believe the changes will weaken the judiciary and the principle of separation of powers, give the government absolute power and endanger basic rights and freedoms. This, in turn, could threaten the economy and Israel’s relationship with Western allies.

* Opposition parties also believe that Netanyahu’s National Coalition partners will weaken the Supreme Court in order to establish more settlements in violation of international law in the occupied Palestinian West Bank.

Ultra-Orthodox parties also want to pass legislation exempting ultra-Orthodox Israelis from military service and fear the Supreme Court would reject such a law. The Supreme Court did just that in 2017, but ultra-Orthodox men are largely exempt.

* Critics warn that a judiciary that is no longer considered independent may cause Israel to lose one of its most important defenses in matters of international law.

Allegation and Criticism of the Military

* Netanyahu is the country’s longest-serving prime minister with terms in office from 1996 to 1999 and then from 2009 to 2021. He was charged in 2019 with corruption and breach of trust, but he denied the charges.

On March 23, the Knesset passed a law that makes it more difficult to dismiss the prime minister. Critics believe the law is specifically designed for Netanyahu to prevent him from having to resign over corruption charges.

In February, the attorney general prevented Netanyahu from directly involving himself in reform. This is because he himself can benefit from it because he is accused of corruption.

The Minister of Defense was dismissed

– The bill also sparked sensational criticism from parts of the military, and hundreds of reservists, including combat pilots, signed petitions and refused to come to duty.

On March 26, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant of the Likud party was sacked after he said the anti-reform protests threatened Israel’s security. Gallant never received an official letter of resignation and has since continued with his job.

On March 27, new mass demonstrations broke out, and the powerful Histadrut trade union declared a general strike. That same evening, Netanyahu agreed to a temporary postponement of the reform, and the next day the ruling parties began negotiations with the opposition.

* Demonstrations continue against the planned reform, coinciding with the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, who both celebrate holidays on the Temple Mount.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to a temporary delay to reform, but the unrest has not subsided.

The political unrest coincides with the Palestinians’ celebration of Ramadan. Al-Aqsa Mosque, located on the Temple Mount, is the third holiest site for Muslims.

Hoyden Synagogue: There are sacred places for Christians, Jews and Muslims here.  Holy places are national and powerful religious symbols.  Photo: Ilan Rosenberg

Hoyden Synagogue: There are sacred places for Christians, Jews and Muslims here. Holy places are national and powerful religious symbols. Photo: Ilan Rosenberg

When Israeli police storm a mosque during Muslim prayers in the month of Ramadan, it has a powerful effect, and it will have a provocative effect on both the Palestinians and Israel’s Muslim neighbors.

For Israel, it is very much about deterring its enemies, showing that they have the ability to mobilize and project military strength regardless of these internal political divisions in which they stand, as Windsland explains.

Rally against a common enemy?

He believes that the state revolves around internal political conflicts, and he says that some believe that the escalation we are witnessing now could be an attempt to regroup against a common enemy.

– I have no basis for saying that Israel wants this escalation at all, but the attack on Al-Aqsa Mosque was after all a policy chosen by Israel, which they know will provoke a great deal of resistance and possibly attacks, says the land of women.

The question now is whether a divided Israel can somehow control the West Bank and control the three million Palestinians who live there in the same way they were able to before, he says.

The Norwegian authorities and other countries are expressing concern and calling for calm in Israel. However, Kvindesland was not swayed by calls to return to the peace process.

The peace process is dead

– The European Union and other Western ruling powers say all the time that they advocate peace, but they are not willing to put much force behind these words, says Covendsland.

– Both Anken Huitfeldt and the former foreign ministers know very well that these peace negotiations are dead, and they have done so for many years, he says.

Kvindesland does not believe in any major change in the Middle East in the future. The power relationship is deadlocked and Israel pretty much controls the entire land area. There is no indication that they will relinquish that control.

Prayer: Muslim women in prayer on the Temple Mount.  Photo: Reuters/Ammar Awad

Prayer: Muslim women in prayer on the Temple Mount. Photo: Reuters/Ammar Awad

– The situation has already gotten out of control since the partition of Palestine in 1948. But whether it can be escalated into an all-out war, I don’t think so, says Covindsland.

Self-examination gives hope

However, Kvindesdal points out one bright spot. At the intersection of polarizing fronts, a great deal of self-examination is now taking place in Israel. If things go in the best possible way, the historian believes, it might give way to new peace talks.

Criticism of reforms means that more and more Israelis are realizing that the political system is very weak. Perhaps this self-examination could provide fertile ground for negotiations and a new approach for the Palestinians.

— but that will remain to be seen, concludes Kvindesland.

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