When US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman commented on Israel’s “right” to annex land in the occupied West Bank — as a dutiful Zionist he called it “Judea and Samaria” — he provided the Palestinians with an important reason for resistance to the Israeli occupation. So too does Israel’s systematic annexation policy, which is basically ethnic cleansing because the state is trying to rid itself of the Palestinians in the areas taken.
There are now 20 synagogues in occupied East Jerusalem; there will probably be more. What’s more, the Israeli Supreme Court has approved a deal for the settler organisation Ateret Cohanim to buy three buildings from the Greek Orthodox Church located in the Christian quarter of occupied Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, according to a report from Human Rights Watch, “The Israeli government [has] continued to enforce severe and discriminatory restrictions on Palestinians’ human rights; restrict the movement of people and goods into and out of the Gaza Strip; and facilitate the unlawful transfer of Israeli citizens to settlements in the occupied West Bank. Israeli forces [are] stationed on the Israeli side of the fences separating Gaza and Israel responded to demonstrations for Palestinian rights on the Gaza side with excessive lethal force.”
The HRW report also mentioned the numbers of martyrs killed by the occupation forces, many of whom were not a threat to anyone, as well as the number of houses demolished by Israel during the past year. It also included a special section on the suffering of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip due to the Israeli-led blockade. All of these realities on the ground also provide reasons for increased Palestinian resistance in the West Bank.
In fact, the escalations, alongside the ongoing attempts to liquidate the Palestinian cause through the so-called “deal of the century”, are all fertile ground for a mass popular uprising; in other words, another intifada.
In May, 36 Palestinians, including three from the West Bank, were killed by the Israelis. Furthermore, 10 Palestinian prisoners died after being arrested by the Israeli occupation army. Israel’s prisons are places where the most severe and cruel forms of physical and psychological torture are practiced, including solitary confinement, night raids, strip searches, bans on visits, deliberate medical negligence and other violations which bring to mind fascist ideology. The arrest of Palestinians in the West Bank has become a daily occurrence and systematic policy, the only variable being the geographic extent and number. Israel believes that by resorting to arresting people, it is capable of weakening the Palestinians and thus ridding the territory of all resistance actions.
The Israeli occupation army arrested 303 Palestinians last month, including 39 children and six women, in various parts of the West Bank. Ten days ago, a bloody clash broke out between the Palestinian Preventive Security Service and an Israeli military force south of Nablus. Jerusalem topped the list of governorates where the Israeli occupation forces carried out large-scale arrests. The number of Palestinians from Jerusalem who were detained reached 74; another 23 young West Bank resident were arrested during their religious retreat in Al-Aqsa Mosque in the last ten days of Ramadan. Stabbings by Palestinians have also continued, the most recent of which was an attack on two settlers near Damascus Gate on the last Friday of the fasting month.
The former Chief of Staff of the Israel army, General Gadi Eisenkot, has warned the US that the situation in the West Bank could boil over before or after the announcement of the details of the “deal of the century”. Israel’s Channel 13 explained that Eisenkot’s warning was made in a private meeting at the White House two weeks ago, attended by Israeli and American officials, including US Envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt. Eisenkot recommended that the Trump administration should keep in mind the volatile situation in the West Bank when considering when to announce the details of the deal.
The current Head of the Palestinian Studies Forum at the Moshe Dayan Centre for Middle Eastern and African Studies, Michael Milshtein, has pointed out that Israelis have been issuing warnings for about a decade about the negative strategic change that is expected to occur generally in the Palestinian arena, and specifically in the West Bank. At the heart of these warnings are terrifying scenarios related to a third intifada, waves of violence and the disintegration of the Palestinian Authority. “The relative quiet in the West Bank does not attest to a dissipation of the Palestinians’ national identity and aspirations,” said Milshtein, “but rather reflects a redrawing of collective goals and their realignment with changes in the geo-strategic sphere as well as changes in the Palestinian social profile.”
Yes, despite all of the brutal killings and other atrocities committed by Israel, the experts among the enemy predict that our people will continue to resist and that the West Bank is integrated with the Gaza Strip and the territories occupied in 1948. This makes all of historic Palestine a potential arena for legitimate acts of resistance to Israel’s brutal occupation.
This article first appeared in Arabic in Al-Khaleej on 18 June 2019
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.