April 12, 2022
Israel is on edge following a series of Palestinian attacks inside the so-called Green Line that have killed at least 11 Israelis — all carried out by lone attackers. The fact that individual Palestinian youths were able to cross unnoticed into Israel from the occupied West Bank and spread terror and confusion among ordinary Israelis is a watershed in the decades-old conflict. Citadel Israel has appeared increasingly vulnerable in the past few weeks and not because the ironclad arm of the occupation forces has become lax.
Naftali Bennett’s coalition government, which has just lost its thin majority in the Knesset, is feeling the heat. To save face, the far-right premier has given his security forces permission to use all necessary force to subdue the Palestinians, especially in Jenin, where at least two of the lone attackers came from. Between Sunday and Monday, the Israeli occupation forces killed at least four Palestinians, including two women — one clearly in cold blood.
Furthermore, Israel is threatening to storm the Jenin refugee camp, home to about 14,000 souls and a symbol of defiance and resistance, in a repeat of what happened 20 years ago. Then, its forces besieged the camp for days before launching a large military operation that ended in the killing of at least 52 Palestinians and the widespread destruction of the camp.
To believe that this is merely a reaction to what has happened in the past few weeks is shallow and insulting. Millions of Palestinians have been living under a colonial occupation for decades and successive Israeli governments have been unleashing waves of wholesale land expropriation and settlement expansions, inviting more illegal settlers to take Palestinian lands, cutting off villages and towns, while arresting thousands, including children and women, and summarily executing hundreds of young men and women who dare to protest against their occupiers.
In recent months, radical Jewish settlers have been allowed, under army protection, to attack peaceful villages, torching cars and houses and uprooting olive trees. While the West is quick to condemn Palestinian terror, it shamefully falls silent when Israel commits war crimes. Gazans remain under an illegal, 15-year-long siege and still wait for UN investigators to arrive. They want justice for the loved ones they have lost in recent wars.
The new lone attacker phenomenon is one of increasing desperation and a sign that tens of thousands of young Palestinians are losing hope. Israel’s iron fist reaction has not worked before and will certainly fail this time. The killing spree that Israeli soldiers appear to be engaging in will not bring the peace and quiet that Israeli politicians wish for.
Ever since the collapse of the peace process, Israel has only had one answer to Palestinian resistance: To double down using extreme force and with new forms of collective punishment. While such policies have never succeeded in controlling the Palestinians, providing Israel only with short spells of quiet, the reality is that the two sides are reaching a critical juncture — one that promises to lead to new cycles of violence.
There are at least four factors that have contributed to the building up of Palestinian anger and despair.
One is the total loss of credibility of the Palestinian Authority as a representative of the Palestinian people. It has failed to deliver on all fronts and is now on the verge of financial collapse, as well as political bankruptcy. All that remains of Oslo is the security coordination, which Palestinians see as a liability tainting their presumptive leadership.
Second is the awareness that Israel’s end game is to colonize as much Palestinian land as possible, denying them a path toward liberation and self-determination.
Third is the growing frustration among millions of Palestinian youths that is driving them further toward radicalism and the belief that only force can alter Israel’s current trajectory.
And fourth is the conviction that the world will never hold Israel accountable for its crimes and violations of international law. The Palestinians believe they are on their own and must force change no matter the sacrifice.
The reality is that the two sides are reaching a critical juncture — one that promises to lead to new cycles of violence.
And while Western governments continue to ignore Israel’s occupation and its daily atrocities against the Palestinians, there is a glimmer of hope in the fact that world public opinion is becoming more aware of Israel’s crimes as an occupation force and as an apartheid state. This is thanks to social media platforms, which offer a different narrative to that of the mainstream media. Sunday’s cold-blooded and chilling murder of partially blind and widowed mother-of-six Ghada Sabateen at an Israeli checkpoint near Bethlehem was captured on video and trended on social media, gaining thousands of retweets.
Israeli leaders believe that force alone can stifle Palestinian resistance and pave the way to the marginalization of their decades of struggle for liberation. This is where they have been proven wrong time and time again. The killing fields of Jenin will not bury the just cause of the Palestinians. The world is changing and the unipolar reality is declining. Soon, Israel will find itself facing a new global structure. The West’s application of double standards when it comes to reacting to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinians is being exposed and is becoming difficult to defend or justify any longer.
- Osama Al-Sharif is a journalist and political commentator based in Amman. Twitter: @plato010
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