There is no doubt that a sense of utter hopelessness among the Palestinian youth, of ever attaining a political resolution that could end the Zionist colonial occupation, is the driving force behind the uprising in the West Bank, especially in occupied Jerusalem and Hebron. Living under military occupation since 1967, without any civil rights or hope of ever building an independent Palestinian state and without any decent future to look for, Palestinian youths have been driven to choose death rather than a life of honour and dignity, being daily crushed by a brutal military occupation.
Divisions among the various Palestinian groups and the demise of prospects for a negotiated political settlement that could achieve the two-state solution clearly project a bleak picture that points to a huge catastrophe in the making, which would leave nothing to mend or restore. Such a reality has left Palestinian youth no choice, but to take matters into their own hands to fight the occupation as “lone wolves”, using all means available to fend for themselves. A person denied the dignity of civil rights and a decent future can never be stopped if he or she is willing to die to attain them, regardless of confronting brutal measures, as those exercised by Israel in Palestine, which in effect would further inflame the uprising.
The attack in Tel Aviv on June 8, 2016, has shocked Israel, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tended to issue statements devoid of realities, ignoring the cause of such violence — that the colonial occupation is crushing the hopes and political associations of the Palestinian population. Freezing entry permits of 83,000 Palestinian workers with jobs inside the 1948 Territories during Ramadan is nothing but collective punishment that is bound to further heighten Palestinian anger and hatred to levels that would usher in further attacks — possibly turning more lethal in the future. Such unwise measures prompted the former defence minister of Israel, Amir Peretz, to blame Netanyahu, declaring that “after ten years of Netanyahu’s rule, Palestinian operations have moved their violence to the very heart of Tel Aviv”.
The so-called Palestinian flare-up (Habba) broke out last October with one individual, a Palestinian student, who stabbed two Zionist colonists in the heart of occupied Jerusalem, killing them instantly. Other frustrated and hopeless youths rushed to emulate him and the dam that held back Palestinian anger and extreme frustration just burst. The real fear in Israel now is that this Tel Aviv operation can be taken as an example to be copied by Palestinian “lone wolves”, using unconventional methods to wreak extreme havoc in the heart of Tel Aviv — the most vital economic and a highly populated centre in the Zionist state.
Israeli political analyst Nahum Barnea wrote in the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper: “The Tel Aviv operation is a very hard strike that should never [have] happened, but it did, nevertheless. It should remind us again that rumours asserting the end of the Palestinian flare-up are premature and the weapon of choice in this case is a primitive gun that replaced the knife and youth in formal suits and ties have replaced students with school uniforms and anyone willing to die can manage to reach Tel Aviv.” Amos Harel wrote in Haaretz that “the executors of the operation used a primitive gun called Karla because modern guns with their high prices are beyond the financial means of individuals who decided to act on their own”. He said the operation was very well-planned, noting that it included a third party to transport them to the spot in Tel Aviv. He said, “Wearing suits to blend with people having dinner in an upscale restaurant made it more deadly.”
Despite the variables in the numbers of resistance operations, embers of the fire of uprising are still glowing, ready to singe the occupiers. According to a recent poll among Palestinians, 65 per cent of all those who were surveyed supported the operation that targeted a bus in occupied Jerusalem last April. The poll conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research revealed that “54 per cent support the return to arms to end the Israeli occupation in view of the demise of peace negotiations; and 56 per cent support popular non-violent uprising as [the] first alternative to fill the vacuum in the meantime”.
The collective punishment imposed upon Palestinians by Israel can only further ignite the fire of the uprising. It is this very fact that prompted the leftist Mayor of Tel Aviv to admit that Israelis are “the only ones in the world with another people living amongst us under our occupation, denying them any civil rights and we are 49 years into [an] occupation that I was a participant in and I fully recognise the reality of occupation”.
His opinion and those of others were echoed in an editorial in Haaretz under the headline, ‘Liberating Palestinians from occupation is the only way to stop terrorism’. The article indicated that “collective punishment will not save a single Israeli life, but, on the contrary, will increase Palestinian hatred. Verbal abuse against Palestinians by Netanyahu and Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman and others will not dissuade Palestinian youth from acting against the occupation”. It conceded that “the Palestinian people through their youths [are] acting on their own [and] have decided to fight the occupation like other peoples in history who revolted against their occupiers”.
Professor As’ad Abdul Rahman is the chairman of the Palestinian Encyclopaedia.