In the aftermath of “Operation Pillar of Defence”, the Israelis have diverted their attention to the occupied West Bank. Mass arrests have been carried out by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) for alleged “recent violent and terrorist activity”. Palestinian detainees protesting against administrative detention have embarked upon a hunger strike, joining other prisoners who have sustained their strikes for over 100 days. With their health deteriorating seriously, the prisoners languishing in Israeli jails have refused to end the strike, citing the necessity to further Palestinian resistance, as well as instructing relatives on how to proceed with burial, as death manifests itself to an imminent certainty.
Samer Al-Issawi, a Palestinian prisoner who has sustained his hunger strike for 141days, has asked to be buried next to his brother, Fadi. The hunger strike, he stated, will continue until victory or death, emphasising that his decision was based upon “defending the dignity of the Palestinian people”.
Meanwhile, Palestinians have voiced concern over misrepresentation by the Palestinian Authority, in the name of security coordination. Under the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority is obliged to cooperate with Israel regarding security matters. The political view that the agreement benefits both Palestinians and Israelis has failed to ingrain itself within Palestinians, who continue to struggle against the occupation without political support, especially in the West Bank.
With Mahmoud Abbas’s inclination to engage in UN dialogue and appease the international community Palestinians feel that their reality is being sidelined to accommodate Israel and international diplomacy. Abbas failed to take a strong stance against the building of further illegal settlements in the West Bank, compromising the already limited land available to Palestinians in return for a fragment of international aid. For the leaders, it seems that much is at stake if they refuse to cooperate with Israel’s security forces, namely the provision allotted to leaders in order to consolidate their position within one faction or another. The possibility that the Palestinian Authority won’t retain control of the West Bank if it refuses to participate in security coordination is another strong deterrent.
However, Palestinians are enraged at the provision of security coordination which is directed mainly against the citizens themselves, for the benefit of the Israelis. Palestinian security officers have been known to arrest Palestinians upon suspicion of illegal activity, suppress demonstrations and provide security, along with Israeli soldiers, to Israelis living in illegal settlements. Once again, Palestinians are far removed from any form of protection from the authorities.
The people of Palestine have distanced themselves from a neoliberal form of governance which enslaves its masses. With Hamas having gained political strength following the latest Israeli offensive against Gaza, Abbas seems to have become more isolated in the Palestinian struggle. Whilst Hamas continues to embody resistance, Abbas remains the entity engaged in dialogue with the international community, many of whose members attempt to side with Palestine in certain matters, yet entertain Israel and its allies without any signs of coercion. The misrepresentation of Palestinians with regard to local and international authorities has strengthened their identity as a whole nation, albeit incarcerated on opposite ends of the land by the occupation.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.