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Popular committees are needed to confront illegal Israeli settlers

A Palestinian protestor lifts a national flag across from Israeli settlers and security forces blocking the entrance to the Palestinian al-Lubban al-Sharqiya village, preventing its pupils from going to school, south of Nablus city in the occupied West Bank on 28 November 2021. [JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP via Getty Images]
A Palestinian protestor lifts a national flag across from Israeli settlers and security forces blocking the entrance to the Palestinian al-Lubban al-Sharqiya village, preventing its pupils from going to school, south of Nablus city in the occupied West Bank on 28 November 2021. [JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP via Getty Images]

The issue of settlers' crimes has escalated in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem. Such attacks include using vehicles to run over Palestinians, arson, gunfire, the seizure of property, the destruction of crops, raiding homes, blocking roads and beatings. All take place in a difficult and painful environment in which the Palestinians find themselves alone, without any protection. Resistance activists are unable to reach all areas due to the security conditions and the failure of the Palestinian Authority and its security forces to provide the necessary protection for our people and to confront the settlers and their crimes.

There is thus an urgent need for "national popular resistance committees" to coordinate volunteers in the defence of villages, towns and neighbourhoods that are subjected to barbaric attacks by settlers, and to respond to attacks carried out by the gangs and extremist groups that plague the West Bank and Jerusalem with their corruption, devastation and threats. Such committees are a national necessity due to the reality on the ground if we are to stop this wave of aggression and make the criminal settlers pay dearly for their crimes. It will also reassure our people that there is a body working to defend them and confront the settler-terrorists, which will strengthen Palestinian steadfastness and raise morale, knowing that there is someone protecting them and standing behind them. This is important, given that the PA has basically abandoned the people and their safety, along with its other national responsibilities.

READ: Why is popular resistance in the occupied West Bank increasing?

There are some specific steps to be taken to implement this idea. For start, a general mobilisation must be announced to create popular committees to confront settlers on all platforms, provided that the necessary clarifications and details are provided to the masses. These committees must include youth from all areas of the West Bank based on a system of cells that are not connected to each other in order to make it more difficult for the enemy to disrupt them. All areas, neighbourhoods, villages, towns and cities must have the right to call on their residents to form separate committees spread across all areas. This work must be of a popular nature, not factional, in order to include all groups of our people without any consideration of political and ideological differences or affiliations. These committees must issue direct warnings to the settlers that all attacks are unacceptable and will carry an unprecedented price.

Israeli police support Israeli settlers in their theft of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem

Israeli police support Israeli settlers in their theft of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

I believe that this idea can cover the areas occupied in 1948 as well as the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem in order to achieve the largest number of "gains" to which the Palestinian people aspire. This will include the thwarting of the enemy's plans; acting as a deterrent to attacks by settlers; strengthening our domestic front and securing our people from any possible attacks; and protecting legitimate resistance. The latter might include harbouring individuals wanted by the occupation authorities, protecting individuals carrying out operations, confronting armed infiltration by occupation security forces, thwarting arrest missions, disabling surveillance cameras and attacking illegal settlements and disturbing settlers. The objective must be to make the task of the soldiers and settlers as difficult as possible.

This will create great challenges for the occupation. Instead of concentrating its efforts against specific elements and some resistance cells, it will find itself facing an army of popular committees in all areas, and it will not be able to direct accusations at any particular party or faction, because the whole Palestinian nation will be involved. This will be seen as a very dangerous development and it will hinder its ability to carry out its missions in a difficult and complex environment that could expose its soldiers and settlers to open confrontations with dozens or hundreds of people who stand against them in every neighbourhood, alley and street whenever any attack is launched by the army or settlers.

READ: Ex-Israel army commanders warn settler violence might ignite new intifada

None of this will be without serious challenges for the Palestinians. The occupation will try to abort these efforts through repeated arrests and targeting of individuals, hopefully without success. Moreover, the PA will view these formations as new resistance cells that threaten its existence and warn of a full-scale confrontation with the West Bank. This will prompt it to take a number of repressive measures to prevent the formation of these committees and undermine their activities. Its efforts will fail, and it will be condemned for trying, leading to resentment from the masses as they seek to achieve their desired objective.

The Palestinians in the West Bank, Jerusalem and the territories occupied in 1948 must realise that without the initiative to form these popular resistance committees, our people will remain subject to threats from the settlers, who will feel free to commit even more crimes without any deterrent. We will continue to see horrific crimes committed every hour of every day, something that no free, patriotic individual who values their people and land will accept. Hence, everyone must take action in every area and take whatever initiative they can. They must be careful at all times, though, and keep out of the enemy's sight.

This article first appeared in Arabic in Felesteen on 8 January 2022

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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