A recent poll by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research detailed how Palestinians are largely in favour of armed resistance against Israel’s settler-colonialism. More importantly, Palestinians have again asserted that they no longer need to take their cues from the main Palestinian political factions, indicating a sharp detachment from the politics of the previous years that monopolised resistance depending on factions and geographical territory.
In the poll, 71 per cent of Palestinians favoured the forming of armed resistance groups such as the Lions’ Den and the Jenin Battalion. The Palestinian Authority continued to lose favour among the people of occupied Palestine, with 80 per cent of survey participants against the surrender of members from resistance groups to the PA. In relation to this, 86 per cent of Palestinian respondents declared themselves to be against the PA’s persecution of resistance group members.Juxtaposed against these findings is the statement of Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s former foreign minister and current head of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, who has called for a targeted assassination policy against Hamas leaders in Gaza. “We cannot accept the ‘rules of the game’ in which they can inflame Judea and Samaria while being immune in Gaza,” said Lieberman, referring to Palestinian resistance in the occupied West Bank. He also called for a large-scale military operation in the occupied Palestinian territory to quash the resistance.
The current Palestinian resistance — which is legitimate under international law — does not follow the politics of Palestinian factions, preferring instead to maintain a unified front encompassing all groups. Moreover, support for Hamas in the occupied West Bank is not a recent phenomenon, but the result of the Fatah-led PA’s corrupt existence.
Referring to the Israeli raid of the Jenin refugee camp in which five Palestinians were killed (a sixth has since died of his wounds), Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem pointed out that, “The resistance fighters from all factions were united on the battlefield. It shows that the resistance still exists in the West Bank cities.”
Two narratives are at play here. One is the unified front which Palestinians are moving towards and embracing in their anti-colonial struggle. The other portrays Hamas as the epitome of Palestinian resistance and the reason why Palestinian resistance exists. Much of this is attributed to the discrepancy between Gaza and the occupied West Bank in terms of their portrayal, as well as the different reactions to their unique socio-economic and political realities. Now that the PA has lost much of its grip over the occupied West Bank, Hamas is looming as a bigger threat in the official narrative, despite Palestinians clearly veering towards a unified resistance that encompasses all factions and which remains independent.
Lieberman’s call for targeted assassinations exploits the image of Hamas as synonymous with Palestinian resistance. The movement is being used to promote Israel’s policy of targeted assassinations, a purportedly rational objective in the settler-colonial narrative. The impact, however, is not restricted to Gaza. A growing independent Palestinian resistance which is out of the PA’s control is an uncontained reality which Israel currently faces. Maintaining the narrative of Hamas as the exclusive source of resistance can ultimately be used as a facade for Israel and the PA to normalise extrajudicial killings of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.