Has Resistance Struggle Declined in the Occupied Palestinian West Bank?

Prof. As’ad Abdul Rahman

News of the uprising in the Gaza Strip topped headlines in Arab and international press and other media outlets. Most of them focused on Israeli soldiers’ brutal measures against young Palestinian protesters who went out of all the towns of Gaza to voice their commitment to the land of their fathers and 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 here and there 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 “settlers”/ colonizers against the Palestinians. Here exactly where things may go the wrong way, when comparison is made negatively between resistance acts across the two wings of Palestine, the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Indeed, three factors have a negative impact on the spread and continuity of resistance in the West Bank area, the first is the ‘security coordination’ with Israel by the Palestinian Authority. 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 the West Bank lands have been separated and isolated by Jewish colonies, by-roads, roadblocks and the Apartheid Wall, apart from oppressive measures carried out by the ever present Israeli army with daily arrests of young Palestinians. Yet, these factors combined negatively affect the popular and armed resistance in the West Bank, which, despite the above-mentioned, 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, all combined 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 Gaza Strip, although under full siege, is ‘liberated’! It is a crucial difference: The West Bank under direct occupation is targeted daily by ‘absorption’, ‘gnawing’ 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 colonize it with more Jewish “settlers”.

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, such as 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 and others. But the West Bank continued the process of popular resistance, and sometimes armed resistance, established in continuous movements under the burdens of the direct occupation of the villages, towns and cities of the West Bank. This resistance has been going on for years. Through its activities, it has made it clear to the entire world that there are a people under Israeli occupation, and there is an enemy who practices terrorism on a daily basis against an unarmed people.

The most significant about Gaza is that its people resorted to armed struggle and rockets’ firing. The reaction of the occupation was bloody, killing hundreds and injuring thousands of Palestinians during recent wars on the area. Unfortunately, some of the world viewed them with an unfair eye when 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 of slaughter and killing whose snipers shoot 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 of Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem, and even in its current stand of support with Gaza and demands to lift the siege imposed on the area.

Do we have always to remind those who, unknowingly, talk about the decline of the resistance operations in the West Bank of the operations where Palestinians ran over soldiers causing horror among Israelis led to the demolition of the homes of those who carried out the attacks? Indeed, residents of isolated villages have never stopped confronting Jewish ‘settlers’ clearly supported by the occupation army. And what about the semi-weekly clashes along the demarcation lines? Do we need to remind that the West Bank created the ‘lone wolves’ actions with the Israeli security services still unable to anticipate such acts of resistance? Do we also need to remind 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?


كاتب وباحث عربي، ومحلل سياسي مختص في القضايا الفلسطينية وشؤون الصراع العربي الإسرائيلي

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