Reviving Resistance

In the West Bank too, Palestinians are showing they won’t surrender to occupation

By Abdel Bari Atwan

The recent escalation of armed resistance operations in the occupied West Bank — resulting in the death of three Israeli settlers and the wounding of at least ten others – make a plain point. While Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been presenting himself to some Arab governments as able to protect them, offering them his security expertise to safeguard their thrones and suppress popular uprisings against them, he is unable to protect and safeguard his own settlers.

Netanyahu has been touting his security merchandise to his new Arab friends of his security. But the West Bank’s resistance fighters – from Ashraf an-Na’alwa who launched the Barkan operation, to Saleh al-Barghouti who carried out the attack on in Ofra, to their comrade who withdrew safely after a second Ofra operation to avenge Na’alwa and Barghouti’s martyrdom – have shown that this merchandise is flawed and unsellable.

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Israel’s security agencies and special army units, all supplied with the most sophisticated equipment and aided by a long fifth column of agents and informers, spent 66 days searching in vain for Na’alwa. It was probably the Palestinian security forces, who serve the occupation under the ‘security coordination’ provisions, who found out he was in ‘Askar refugee camp east of Nablus and then informed the Israelis. He did not surrender, but resisted in the house where he was hiding out.

Bilateral meetings and Egyptian mediation efforts had all failed to restore unity between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip for years. But now, they are being reunited by and on the basis of resistance, more strongly than ever, and by the actions of young people who have no faith in flowery speeches and resounding statements, only in acts of resistance.

The West Bank can be likened to a large elephant: it may move slowly, but when it charges it becomes uncontrollable can destroy everything in its way. Or perhaps a noble Arabian camel: patient and forbearing, but unrelenting when in decides to retaliate against those who have abused it.

What we are currently witnessing in the West Bank is a revolution of retaliation for a long series of humiliations at the hands of the occupation and its forces. It is a powerful and eloquent response to all those who have bypassed the Palestinian people and dropped them from their calculations and befriended the occupation, deeming it their ally and protector.

People in the West Bank are not only rebelling against Israeli oppression, but also against the Palestinian Authority (PA). It claims to represent all Palestinians. Yet whenever it is dealt another insult by the Israelis – most recently the raiding of its official news agency WAFA and the siege of its finance ministry – it responds by providing more security coordination and more cooperation with the occupation and its security agencies.

The common denominator between all the recent resistance actions — whether the vehicle rammings, the stabbings, or the shootings — is that they have targeted Israeli settlers and the soldiers protecting them. They sent them and their leaders the powerful message that they are unwelcome as occupiers of Palestinian lands, that their presence is illegitimate, and they must leave as soon as possible if they wish to protect their lives.

The Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) claimed the Barkan and Ofer attacks, and its armed wing, the Qassam Brigades has warned there would be more, declaring that ‘the enemy must not dream of peace, security, and stability in our brave West Bank.

Palestinian resistance never disappeared from the West Bank for anyone to claim that it has returned. But it is undergoing a powerful revival, aimed at ensuring that the persistence of the occupation will exact a high price, refusing to be intimidated by Netanyahu’s threats of establishing more settlements, and confident that this land can be be restored fully to its people.

Many basic facts are obscured by Israel’s overwhelming might and the US’ unlimited support for it. Most prominent of these is that the Palestinian people will never surrender and are capable of turning the tables on their occupiers and changing all the equations — not only in occupied Palestine but in the entire region, with the support of all the Arab peoples from the Atlantic to the Gulf.

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The turning point began with Israel’s failure in four successive wars, the most recent and shortest (lasting only 48 hours) of which was in Gaza. The resistance revealed then that it had acquired sophisticated new missiles, and God only knows what weapons it has not yet used and is saving for the fifth confrontation. Fear of them may once again prompt Netanyahu to beg Egyptian mediators for a quick ceasefire.

The Israelis have passed up every opportunity for peace and chosen the course of colonisation, racism and humiliation of those who believed it was possible to negotiate and coexist with them. But they got all their calculations wrong, and the time for accounting is drawing near.

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