The Arab Spring that sprang up a little more than six years ago in the region brought hope to many people on the streets of various Arab countries, where large demonstrations and rioting eventually led to change in governments. Dissatisfied with the ongoing corruption and mismanagement of state resources, people had had enough and took to the streets en masse. Demonstrations in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and other places had empowered the people to demand changes.

Unfortunately for the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories of the West Bank and the Gaza strip, which are under the unlawful control of the Israelis, the Arab Spring has not brought any good tidings. The reverse could very well be true. One of the tragic byproducts has been that since the Arab revolt began in December 2010, more and more Palestinians have been killed, imprisoned, their homes demolished, their lands stolen and the ones left alive are forced to join the ranks of refugees.

With the Arab countries busily engaged in conflicts in the region and putting out fires within their own borders, the Israeli government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has increasingly stepped up its oppression, stifling the last vestiges of Palestinian nationalism through a brutal series of targeted killings of women and children. This policy is meant to strike terror into the hearts of the occupied and it has increased manifold since the Arab Spring began, aimed at defeating any meaningful opposition to the illegal colonies that have sprung up all over Palestinian land.

Clever ploy

Netanyahu’s belligerent rhetoric on Iran is a clever ploy to divert attention and mask the internal apartheid that has taken hold under his regime. Today, the Palestinians are finding themselves increasingly fearful of their lives as state-sponsored killings by the Israeli army go on every day, with victims of cold-blooded killings branded “terrorists” by the Israeli government. Six-month-old babies, five-year-old boys, 11-year-old girls ... all have become “terrorists” in the eyes of the occupier. The intent is obviously to cleanse the last vestiges of Palestinian land from their lawful owners.

Just a few days ago the Israelis demolished a mosque in the village of Rakhama in the Nejev and issued a demolition order for an area in Nablus, home to 85 residents, according to local sources. This was the second time this month that the Israelis had demolished the same house of worship that was quickly rebuilt after the first assault.

Maan News reported that following the first demolition, a Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset, Abu Arar, said he attempted to prevent the demolition, but had been unable to persuade the Israeli authorities. “They do not spare any effort in exerting pressure on the Arab population of the Negev in their attempt to empty the land of Arabs and to displace them,” he said. He also condemned Israel for not providing any services to Palestinians in the area. Despite collecting taxes from Palestinians, he said the “Israeli authorities demolish their homes and close the doors of livelihood in their faces”.

The Israeli forces delivered their demolition order to residents in the Ein Al Rashash area near Duma village in southern Nablus and told them they had four days to vacate or else face the wrath of the Israeli army.

‘Inhuman’ demolition order

A neutral observer, Gassan Daghlas, who monitors Israeli colony encroachment and activities in the northern West Bank, confirmed the demolition order and told the news source that “the Israeli authorities are committing a humanitarian massacre against Palestinians in the area, especially as they have been in the area for dozens of years”. He also implored appropriate human rights and humanitarian organisations to pressure the Israeli government to stop the “inhuman” demolition order, which he said directly supported Israeli colonies in the area.

On the same day and many miles to the south, the Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinian farmers and shepherds in the Gaza strip, forcing the farmers to quickly vacate the area. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights has observed that such incidents have been gradually increasing, placing the farmers and shepherds at great risk of being killed.

It is indeed a tragedy that what had begun as hope for many during the early days of the Arab Spring has turned into nothing but despair and misery for the Palestinians. At one point in time, the Israeli occupation commanded front-page news. Alas, with all else that is going on in the region, the Palestinians’ hope for a just and lasting peace seems to have been pushed to the back pages.

Daesh (the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and other terror groups are universally condemned for their murderous tyranny. Let us be bold enough to ask ourselves whether the state sponsors of terror and oppression under Netanyahu are any different?

Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi socio-political commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. You can follow him on Twitter at /@talmaeena.