Palestinians in the West Bank will keep resisting until Israel’s occupation ends, a leading activist has told Socialist Worker.
Issa Amro, founder of the Youth Against Settlements campaign in the Palestinian city Hebron, described the mass protests that swept the West Bank on Friday.
“On Friday we had about 200 different protests in the West Bank,” he said. “I joined three protests myself on Friday.
“Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were on the streets. They all went to the checkpoints, chanting against apartheid, against the occupation. They want Israel not to touch the Al-Aqsa Mosque, not to touch the families in Sheikh Jarrah and to end the war and the siege of Gaza.”
The protests erupted after Israeli police attacked people resisting attempts to evict Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah, Jerusalem, to make way for Israeli settlers. Cops also invaded the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.
“The attacks on the Al-Aqsa mosque, the brutality of the police dealing with worshippers in the last few weeks was crazy,” said Issa. “I was crying when I saw them beating the women and the kids, and breaking deep inside the mosque. They have never done this before.”
Media reports in Britain presented the protests as a clash between two religions. But Issa said the struggle in Jerusalem is important to Palestinians everywhere because it symbolises resistance to Israel’s attempts to force them from their homes.
That’s why the protests spread across Palestine.
“Palestinians care about Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine,” Issa said. “It’s not just a humanitarian issue that we stand in solidarity with people who are going to lose their homes. We see the people in Jerusalem protecting the Palestinian identity.
“Sheikh Jarrah is a big issue. It’s about refugees being made refugees again. It exemplifies the problem of the Palestinians.
“First they were evicted in 1948 when Israel was created, then in 1967 when Israel began the occupation of the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza. And now they are being evicted again.
“People are defending themselves now.”
Issa linked the struggle in Jerusalem to Israel’s increasing assaults on Palestinians. “Now we see in the future we are going to be evicted too,” he said.
“Israel announced it had an annexation plan when Donald Trump was US president. This is still going on. It didn’t stop after Trump lost the election. Trump announced he recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and this was not reversed by the new American administration.
“In the last four years, during the Trump administration, Palestinians were pushed into a corner. We felt we are losing our homes and our identity. We suffered a lot on the ground.”
Issa explained, “There has been forced displacement of many Palestinians. House demolition and land confiscation increased a lot, and they are building more settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.”
“Palestinians living in Israel have Israeli citizenship. But the government passed a Nation State law against them, establishing Jewish supremacy over Palestinians, saying they don’t have equal rights. There has been growing power of far right and extremists that are now in Israel’s parliament.
“The siege in Gaza means people are without jobs, they don’t have enough food and water.”
Palestinians know, that in the face of all this, they have no choice but to resist.
“Israel gave the Palestinian Authority the excuse to cancel elections in Palestine—they refused to let them open polling stations in Jerusalem. The Palestinians became angry at Israel and the Palestinian Authority for not letting us choose our future leadership.
“If the Palestinians feel negotiations are not working, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign is not allowed, then let’s try to get back our dignity through resistance.
“What else can Palestinians to do bring international attention?”
Issa said the protests in the West Bank have been organised by grassroots activists and ordinary young people using social media. “They send out messages on WhatsApp and Telegram to say, let’s gather—and you see them in the streets,” he said.
“The factions are encouraging the protests—but they’re not organising them.”
He added, “The people in the streets are not leaving the streets. If the Palestinians don’t see a real solution it will continue.”
And, said Issa, Palestinians resisting are encouraged by demonstrations in solidarity around the world. “They see that hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, around the world protesting yesterday, and they say wow, we are not alone.
“That gives us power. It gives us the feeling that we are not separate from the movements to make the world better for everybody.”
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