Tuesday, September 29, 2020

"Itís not an Intifada, at least not yet"

By Sara Cuña - February 25, 2016
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [popular resistance]

Since Oct. 2015, over 170 Palestinians and 27 Israelis have been killed in a wave of unrest across occupied Palestinian territories and Israel. Five months after its beginning, the question remains whether we’re witnessing a Third Intifada.


“The new generation no longer has memory of the first or the second intifada,” said Professor Abdul Rahman Haj Ibrahim of the Political Science department at University Birzeit. “They feel like they haven’t yet protested against this occupation, so they go out into the streets and do it,” he added.


But, as Ibrahim also points out, these individuals, going into the streets and carrying attacks, “are doing them on their own, out of their own frustrations against the occupation,” rather than, “following a political agenda, a program, and lacking of a leadership.”


“Without these conditions,” he says, “you can not call it an Intifada.”


Either way, women and men, regardless of their age, are coming together on the streets to protest against over 50 years of occupation. This wave of violence, which started in the Old City of Jerusalem, is characterized by individual attacks carried by Palestinians armed only with knifes, targeting mostly Israeli forces and settlers.


“This coming together certainly means something,” Ehab Iwidat told the Palestine Monitor, a Birzeit University student from Hebron, “But it’s not an Intifada, at least not yet.”


“Israel calls it an Intifada because it helps perpetuate the international image that Israelis are the victims and Palestinians the terrorists, the ones who continuously hurt them and don’t let them live in peace, when it’s actually the opposite,” he continued.


Although comparisons have been made between the initial phase of the Second Intifada and the last five months of violence, the number of fatalities in the first months of the Second Intifada was almost double the figures in the current unrest.


But there are many other crucial differences, Ehab says.“I remember hearing Arafat on the radio. He would say that his forces would fight back Israel, there was a sense of leadership. Now there’s no one fighting for us. It’s us alone, in the field, against the IDF.”


The General Secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative, Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, has recently compared Israeli army’s behaviour on the field against Palestinian youth as “torturing terrorism” and he believes that official Israeli accounts of the attacks tends are false.


“It’s the duty of every country that claims to respect human rights to impose sanctions against Israel’s abuse of the system, after scandalous scenes documented by the media and the dissemination of field operation executions and torturing unarmed civilians, including those with disabilities,” Barghouti added.


Israel’s accounts of some attacks remain disputed, and videos documenting Israel’s violent response to Palestinian attacks stir controversy.


UN State Secretary Ban Ki-Moon and US State Secretary have publicly criticised Israeli army’s use of excessive force against Palestinians. In a more recent statement, Ki-Moon said that “oppressed people have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to occupation.”


Ibrahim does not believe that the current unrest will escalate to an Intifada. “If this was to happen a leadership would have to rise up in the West Bank, and that won’t take place anytime soon.”


“The Palestinian Authority (PA) does not have the power to rise, only to survive, and if they get involved in this [intifada] they will simply disappear,” he continued.


But Ehab thinks the unrest may escalate into an Intifada, “certainly not in the same form as the previous one, maybe one without an obvious leadership, but this might escalate to something big, maybe even bigger than an intifada.”


While an older generation still feels the defeat and losses of a previous Intifada, the youth seem to have more hope for change. The only hope they seem to have lost is in negotiations between both authorities.


“We’ve been negotiating as Palestinians for more than 50 years now, if peace was meant to happen, peace talks would’ve worked out long ago,” Ehab concluded.



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