Socialist Worker

‘You can’t make life hell and expect us to comply’ – Palestinians speak out

A spate of stabbings by Palestinians in Israel has led to howls of anger in the mainstream media—but this ignores the real violence, reports Nick Clark

Issue No. 2477

A protest against the occupation in Hebron earlier this year

A protest against the occupation in Hebron earlier this year (Pic: Juliane Nordmann on Flickr)


Renewed resistance to Israel has spread across East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Palestinians are responding to occupation and repression. Yet Israeli politicians—and much of the media in Britain—blame Palestinians for the violence.

Socialist Worker instead spoke to Palestinians about what’s really going on.

For Rabea Eghbariah, a Palestinian activist living in the Israeli state, the return of resistance was inevitable.

He told Socialist Worker, “What is happening now was expected in my eyes. It’s been the occupation for so long, more than 48 years in the West Bank.

“You can’t expect to occupy people and discriminate against them, deprive them of liberty and make their life hell and then expect them to comply with your policies willingly.”

Israel has used a recent spate of stabbing attacks by Palestinians against Israelis as a pretext for more repression. 

So far ten Israelis have been killed by Palestinians. The majority of targets have been Israeli soldiers. And Israel has killed many more Palestinians.

Immoral

Rabea said, “Obviously there will be people who will turn to violence. And in this sense we should be reminded that some types of violence are sometimes immoral. 

“But we should remind ourselves that these are not two equal sides. The source of the violence is the occupation. 

“And the occupation itself is the violence.”

Palestinian journalist Lara Aburamadan agreed. “In the West Bank they are fed up with the soldiers and the occupation,” she told Socialist Worker.

“That’s what’s led them to do that violence.”

In East Jerusalem and the West Bank, decades of occupation and violent attacks by soldiers and settlers have led to the latest bout of resistance.

In the Gaza Strip, where Lara is based, Palestinians have endured almost ten years of siege and intense assaults by Israel.

“The situation is very tense,” she explained. “We are surrounded by closures from Israel and Egypt and this is really what makes people feel more hopeless.”

On top of that, the thousands of Palestinian homes destroyed by the Israeli assault on Gaza last summer have still not been rebuilt. 

Many people face the prospect of a second winter without a home. So it’s no wonder that some feel desperate. 

Lara said she met a young boy on a recent protest at the border between Gaza and Israel.

“He said, don’t take a photo of me when I get shot,” Lara recalled. “I was looking at him like, why are you saying that and why are you going there?

“He said, I have no hope here in Gaza. So it’s the only way I can do something. I have nothing to lose.”


US secretary of state John Kerry

US secretary of state John Kerry (Pic: The Center for American Progress Action Fund)


Peace process is a sham

US secretary of state John Kerry called on Israel and the Palestinian Authority to “rekindle” the peace process last week.

This peace process has seen the Palestinian Authority clamp down on resistance and open up its economy to Western businesses. 

Meanwhile Israel has continued to build settlements and the vast majority of Palestinians remain impoverished.

Rabea explained, “The Palestinian Authority has been negotiating for years without any results. It’s obvious to everyone that for the last two decades the negotiations haven’t really brought any change to the situation.”

Now Lara reports that many of the Palestinians taking to the streets are acting independently.

She said, “I think in the West Bank a lot of the youth are not part of any political party. The youth here in Gaza they feel the same. They see that the parties are not doing anything for Palestine.

“They started to go without coordinating, without any political party or anything. They just want to go and show solidarity with the West Bank and Jerusalem.”


Killing shows Israel’s racism

The recent lynching of an Eritrean man in an Israeli bus station highlighted the deeply racist nature of Israeli society.

Haftom Zarhum was killed when an Israeli security guard shot him. As he lay dying a gang of people, including two soldiers, beat him and stamped on his head.

Haftom’s killers said they thought he had been involved in stabbing an Israeli soldier nearby. He hadn’t. But the fact that he was black was enough to seal his fate.

Racism is deeply embedded in Israeli society. Israeli laws mean non-Jewish residents of Israel generally do not have the same citizenship rights as Jewish Israelis.

This racism is aimed at Palestinians. But black and other non-white residents suffer from it too—even if they’re Jewish.

Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Jewish man on Thursday of last week because they thought he looked Palestinian.

Rabea said, “This is obviously racism against Arabs, against Palestinians. Whoever is suspected of being Palestinian is also being targeted.

“Palestinians are afraid to go into the streets. There is no need to constitute any danger whatsoever in order to get suspected. You just have to speak Arabic in public places.”


State steps up its repression

Israeli forces had killed some 50 Palestinians as Socialist Worker went to press.

As many as 876 had been detained. 

Israeli forces have stepped up demolitions of Palestinian homes—a collective punishment against the families of Palestinians who resist. 

An apartheid wall in East Jerusalem means it is harder for Palestinians to move freely.


Netanyahu has fuelled hatred

Following the murder of Haftom Harhum, Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned Israelis not to “take the law into their own hands”.

But Netanyahu has whipped up the racism that led to Haftom’s death. His Likud party won the Israeli elections last March. 

He mobilised his supporters by warning, “Arab voters are coming out in droves.”


Egypt floods Gaza tunnels

The Egyptian regime of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi helps the Gaza blockade.

Gaza’s siege economy relies on tunnels beneath the border with Egypt to smuggle goods in and out. 

But last month Egypt flooded a number of tunnels with sea water.


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