Palestinians resist against the Israeli occupation of their territories and their lives on a daily basis. However, in the last few days, violence escalated in growing confrontations and Palestine is back on the international news, with a persistent backdrop-question: are we there yet, in the Third Intifada? But what is the purpose of asking it?
By Moara Crivelente
The Palestinian intifada is the vigorous answer to the persistent and systematic oppression sustaining the Israeli occupation. Since 2014, after another void period of negotiations derailed, the situation in occupied Palestine has deteriorated, with fatal peaks in confrontation, which demanded urgent evaluation of the status quo.
At the UN General Assembly, President Mahmoud Abbas gave formal expression to the growing Palestinian discontent with the innocuous “peace process”, seen by many as an attempt by Israel’s allies to liquidate resistance. Since the early 1990s, the series of talks and pretentiously temporary agreements gave deeper roots to the Israeli occupation. Therefore, Abbas said that the moment in which the Palestinians would denounce the agreements – that only them have applied – could be around the corner.
At the center of this debate is the “security coordination” with Israel in the occupied territories. In March, the PLO’s Central Committee voted for the suspension of the security coordination and for the boycott of Israeli products, since they faced another escalation and the persistent construction of houses in already immense illegal settlements.
“Israel, the Occupying Power in Palestine”, must assume its responsibilities under International Law, the Committee said in a statement. Its decision was justified by Israel’s “systematic non-compliance with its obligations”, and the document denounced daily military raids, attacks against civilians and properties, and the “systematic denial of the Palestinian right to self-determination”. The decision was not yet implemented, however. Palestinians are under a great deal of pressure exerted by the “donor countries”, especially the US. But the speculation over an imminent intifada is persistent and Israel’s response is to duel with the Palestinians to save the occupation.
The daily rebellion of the Palestinian resistance
The national revolts against colonization are historical and go back to the 1930s, as suggested by Marxist Palestinian Ghassan Kanafani and many others. Focusing on the class struggle and the resistance against colonization, the author already evaluated the articulation of his people. Back to contemporary movements of popular resistance, organized or not, using stones, weapons and even diplomacy, the Palestinian intifada occurs on a daily basis.
To ever more renowned actors in the Israeli “diplomacy”, and also in the US’, a “security strategy” – against the Palestinians – should rest on the maintenance of status quo. Some ways of deterring Palestinians are evident practices of “collective punishment”, which is a war crime. To justify them, the Israeli leadership points at the attacks by exasperated Palestinians – mainly using knives – and the killings of four Israelis this month, as well as to demonstrations with stones or Molotov cocktails against military vehicles or equipped soldiers. (Also, read here a report by Palestinian NGO Adalah on Israeli Police brutality against Palestinians citizens of Israel condeming the escalation).
During the First Intifada, which broke out with non-violent purposes in 1987 and lasted for six years, around 2,000 Palestinians and 160 Israelis have died. During the Second, from 2000 onwards, over 3,300 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis have died, while occupation authorities intensified brutality – with collective punishments such as house demolitions and “breaking bones” tactics for repression and deterrence.
The Palestinians’ actions are labeled “terrorist” and their bodies are mutilated by the Israeli “security measures”. Between October 1st and 12th, according to Palestinian human rights organizations, over 25 Palestinians between 12 and 23 years old were killed and four homes were demolished by the Israeli forces. Last Sunday, an Israeli air-strike killed a pregnant woman and her 2 year-old daughter, and her husband’s pictures, physically and spiritually wounded, were unbearable.
On October 6th, PLO’s Central Committee condemned the Israeli leadership’s endeavor to raise tensions. The Palestinian government denounced the efforts for the Judaization of Jerusalem, the attempts at separating Muslim Palestinians from their places of worship – such as Al-Aqsa Mosque – and the settlement activities. The Committee also called on the Palestinians to work on national unity and political reconciliation, forecasting a meeting with the participation of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.
While analysis are focusing on an imminent Third Intifada, the occupation’s bills are pilling up, not only for the Palestinians but also for the Israelis. It is necessary to remember what the intifadas meant: they strengthened national unity and its political expression, but were also met with brutal responses and had extremely high costs. The Israeli reaction to contain them included practical measures of repression and demagogic national mobilization for violence, transferring responsibility to the Palestinian Authority, accused of “incitement”. Meanwhile, “extrajudicial killings” of people who have stories, families and names are on the rise.
A video published by the Israeli NGO B’Tselem shows soldiers escorting settlers who prepared to attack Palestinians (read here the organization’s take on impunity in this matter). In another one (watch below), from April, soldiers detain Maher Abu Haya, who’s a child, in Hebron, accusing him of either having thrown stones or knowing who did it. The Israeli Government has also recently approved a repressive measure which will impose “minimal sentences” on Palestinians accused of throwing stones and the like. The soldiers might also be able to use live munition to contain protests, besides the .22 rifles and other equipments that have already taken Palestinian lives.
The Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as many other countries, “urged” Israel to “comply with its duties to protect the physical integrity of the Palestinian population under its occupation, in accordance with the International Law and the UN resolutions.” France also plans on submitting a resolution to the UN Security Council against the construction of more illegal settlements, while the extreme-right pressures Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to expand them.
Netanyahu suspended the construction of 538 houses, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, and rejected the Police call for “sealing off” the West Bank, fearing signs of accelerated deterioration of Israel’s relations with its allies. Meanwhile, Israeli officials and media analysts ask, in these terms, whether “the Palestinian terror wave” already is the Third Intifada, and evaluate the mobilization to assure themselves they are not there yet. But the correct answer would be that the occupation, depending on the world’s answer, could be counting its final days.
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