Saturday,21 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1134, 7 - 13 February 2013
Saturday,21 October, 2017
Issue 1134, 7 - 13 February 2013

Ahram Weekly

Creative resistance, Israeli intransigence

Palestinians are turning to novel non-violent strategies to confront Israel’s ongoing colonial settlement policy, writes Khaled Amayreh in occupied Palestine

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Al-Ahram Weekly

In their seemingly endless struggle against Israel’s colonialist occupation, Palestinians are increasingly resorting to novel and generally non-violent methods of resistance against harsh Israeli army tactics.

This week, Palestinian activists from the village of Burin, south of Nablus, pitched tents and assembled some barricades in an effort to assert their land rights in an area constantly coveted by Jewish settlers.

However, as soon as the Palestinian “settlement” was started, the Israeli army hastened to dismantle the modest structures, arrest the peaceful activists and declare the locality a “closed military zone”.

The impromptu hamlet is called “Al-Manateer”, meaning gatekeepers, and is located in Area-B according to the Oslo Accords, which is supposed to fall under Palestinian Authority control. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the so-called “civil administration” had informed the Israeli army that Al-Manateer was outside Israeli control and that it had no authority to enter the village.

However, Israeli army commanders in the region refused to heed the instructions, apparently in deference to settlers.

Settlers or pro-settler military officers have long penetrated the Israeli army in the West Bank. According to the Hebrew press, some of these officers prefer to heed edicts from their “community rabbis” than instructions from military superiors. Hence, the army refuses orders to vacate settlement outposts, notwithstanding their illegality having been built on stolen Palestinian private land.

Moreover, in contrast to the harsh and violent treatment meted out to the Palestinians, which includes severe beatings, shooting, and violent arrest, the army adopts a “kid gloves” approach towards settlers, like reaching “deals and compromises” with them as well as agreeing to postpone for several months the removal of their illegal outposts. By the time the given delay expires, the settlers will have been able to create facts on the ground, facts that will eventually evolve into a full-fledged settlement.

Palestinians hope that by engaging the Israel occupation army in assertive but non-violent acts of resistance, they would gain international approval and support.

Last month, Palestinian activists built a virtual village they named “Bab Al-Shams” (the Gate of the Sun) at an area designated for confiscation by Israel.

The “village”, located in an area dubbed “E-1” and located between East Jerusalem and the colony of Maale Adumim three kilometres eastward was ostensibly established in order to frustrate Israeli efforts to seize the area in order to build a large Jewish settlement that would cut the West Bank in two and put an end to all hopes for a two-states solution.

However, the Israeli occupation army sent in crack troops who violently destroyed the encampments and arrested Palestinian, Israeli and international activists dwelling there. This happened without even waiting for a decision by the Israeli High Court on the issue, illustrating that the army, not the courts, is the highest authority and power in Israel.

One Israeli officer referred to the new Palestinian form of resistance as a “new terror tactic”.

The relentless repression of even the most peaceable and non-violent efforts to resist the systematic and unceasing theft of Palestinian land by Israel shows that true and dignified peace with the Palestinians is not on the Israeli agenda.

This modus operandi, which Israel always adopts in dealing with the Palestinians, manifested itself once again this week when the Israeli occupation army rounded up as many as 25 Islamist political activists throughout the West Bank. The detainees include at least three lawmakers: Ahmed Iton from Jerusalem, Hatem Kafisha from Hebron, and Mohamed Al-Tel from the southern West Bank town of Dahiriya, 20 kilometres south of Hebron.

Israel didn’t give any reason for the arrests, but Israeli sources said the most likely reason was to “keep Hamas under pressure”.

Hamas condemned the latest “aggression” calling it an attempt by the Israeli government to sabotage Palestinian reconciliation efforts. Hamas officials added that the arrest of Islamist political and community leaders in the West Bank showed that Israel wouldn’t allow the organisation of free and fair elections.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership has been demanding the organisation of elections as the first step towards reconciliation with Hamas.

However, the latest rounding-up of Hamas leaders in the West Bank draws a question mark over the feasibility of conducting genuine elections under Israel occupation.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been trying to woo PA leader Mahmoud Abbas into resuming negotiations with Israel. The Hebrew media on Monday quoted Netanyahu as saying that “every day that passes by without negotiating for peace is a loss for both peoples.”

Some Palestinian critics are worried that Abbas might be cajoled by the new Obama administration to agree to resume stalled peace talks with Israel even without having minimal Palestinian conditions met by the Israeli government. These include a moratorium on Israel settlement expansion and recognition by Israel that any peace deal with the Palestinians would have to be based on UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338.

Ahmed Amr, an Islamist spokesman from the Hebron region lashed out at Abbas for what he qualified as his “endless flirting with the Zionists and the Americans”. “I really don’t know if we have to devote our efforts to resist Israeli arrogance and recalcitrance or restrain Mahmoud Abbas. When will we ever realise that they are liars and that giving our people justice is the last thing these people think of?”

Amr said newly appointed US Secretary of State John Kerry would be no different from Condoleezza Rice or Hillary Clinton. “They are all held by the throat by Israel and the Jewish lobby. They are not free even to speak their minds. They know that if they did, they would lose their jobs.”

On the other hand, the issue seems more complicated than this. Israel faces a real demographic problem the severity of which Israeli leaders refuse to reveal lest they unsettle the Israeli public. This problem must be resolved sooner or later or else Israel will face an existential problem undermining its Jewish identity.

This week an Israeli writer wrote in Haaretz the following words: “Israel needs the Palestinian state to come into existence even more than the Palestinians do. Without it, Israel cannot continue as a Jewish and democratic state. If Israel doesn’t reach a two-state settlement with the Palestinians very soon, then one day — likely sooner than later — the Jewish state as we know it will cease to exist. And it will be our fault.”

 

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