News of the uprising in the Gaza Strip topped headlines in Arab and international press and other media outlets during recent months. Most of them focused on Israeli soldiers’ brutal measures against young Palestinian protesters who came from all over Gaza to voice their commitment to the land of their ancestors.
Yet, there have been whispers about what was called “the absence of struggle in the occupied West Bank”, or the ‘modest’ popular movement of its people as compared to that of Gaza. It has been said that such movement was restricted to some activities against the Separation (Apartheid) Wall, the boycott of the Jewish colonies’ products, or even intermittent reactions to repeated attacks by the Jewish colonists against the Palestinians.
This is a false binary. The comparison between acts of resistance across the two wings of Palestine, the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, is an exercise in negativity.
Indeed, three factors have had a negative impact on the spread and continuity of resistance in the West Bank area. The first is the ‘security coordination’ by the Palestinian National Authority with Israel. A second factor relates to the economic situation, which is far better than that in Gaza, including distorting consumption habits/practices especially over the past few years.
The third one is the fact that West Bank lands have been separated and isolated by Jewish colonies, byroads, roadblocks and the Apartheid Wall, apart from oppressive measures carried out by the Israeli army with daily arrests of young Palestinians.
Yet, these factors negatively affect the popular and armed resistance in the West Bank, which, despite the above-mentioned aspects, continue. Indeed, demolition of Palestinian homes and property, large-scale arrests and decisions to build more Jewish districts, and turn others into full colonies in response to resistance operations, add new elements to the resistance movement.
Therefore, we should not ignore the fact that the Israeli occupation is imposed directly and heavily on the lives of Palestinians, while the Gaza Strip, although under full siege, is ‘liberated’! It is a crucial difference: The West Bank under direct occupation is targeted daily by ‘absorption’ and annexation, leading to daily clashes with the unending greed for land of the Zionist state in the West Bank, ‘Judea and Samaria’, designed to “liberate” it and colonise it with more Jewish colonists.
Without ignoring the differences on the ground between the two areas, it is wrong to compare and magnify different natures of resistance in the West Bank with those of Gaza in such a negative way. Indeed, the resistance struggle continued in the West Bank, making significant achievements on the ground with a wide impact around the world.
These include activities in the Palestinian villages of Bale’in, Na’aleen and Al Ma’asarah against the construction of the Wall. They have turned into a weekly action joined by international activists which succeeded in changing the separation lines in some villages. Certainly, the popular movement of Gaza emerged through the massive marches and new methods used: Burning kites, tunnels, tires etc.
But the West Bank continued the process of popular resistance, and sometimes armed resistance, despite direct occupation of the villages, towns and cities of the West Bank. This resistance has been going on for years. Through their activities, those in West Bank have made it clear to the entire world that they are under Israeli occupation, and there is an enemy who practices terrorism on a daily basis against an unarmed people.
The most significant aspect about Gaza is that its people resorted to armed struggle and firing of rockets. The reaction of the occupation forces was bloody, killing hundreds and injuring thousands of Palestinians during recent violence in the area. Unfortunately, some viewed them unfairly, equating the victim with the executioner.
The current popular resistance has succeeded in exposing the occupation army to the world, revealing its nature: An army that shoots indiscriminately at young men, children, women, journalists, paramedics and people with disabilities. The struggle continues at the same time in the cities, villages and refugee camps of the West Bank. We have seen it in the events at Al Aqsa Mosque and in occupied Jerusalem, and even in its current stand of support with Gaza, demanding to lift the siege imposed on the area.
Indeed, residents of isolated villages in the West Bank have never stopped confronting Jewish colonists clearly supported by the occupation army. And what about the semi-weekly clashes along the demarcation lines? Do we need to remind the naysayers that the West Bank created the ‘lone wolf’ actions with the Israeli forces still unable to anticipate such acts of resistance? Do we also need to remind ourselves of the clashes with Israeli soldiers in refugee camps (Ama’ri and Kalandia recently) or in villages (Silwan, Al Nabi Saleh and others) that erupt almost on a daily basis?
Professor As’ad Abdul Rahman is the chairman of Palestinian Encyclopaedia.