Israel on course for total control over oPt

October 20, 2015
Sarah Benton

palestinian israelis
Palestinian Israelis take part in a large demonstration in support of the Palestinians in Sakhnin, between Haifa and L. Tiberias, October 13, 2015. Photo by AFP

Read Their Lips: Israeli Leaders’ Plans for the Palestinians

By Samah Sabawi, al shabaka
October 15, 2015

History in the Holy Land seems stuck in a loop. In 2000, former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, at the time leader of the opposition, visited the al-Aqsa compound in a deliberate provocation that triggered the second Intifada. Israel launched operation “Defensive Shield” to crush the protests and eliminate the Palestinian resistance. As a result, more than 3,000 Palestinians and almost 1,000 Israelis lost their lives between 2000 and 2004, and the peace process was forever derailed.

Fast forward to 2015: The peace process is now dead and what hope Palestinians had during the early Oslo years has turned into bitter disappointment and despair. Jewish colonies, illegal under international law, have expanded on Palestinian land throughout the years of negotiations and now fully surround Palestinian communities. Palestinians, still living under occupation, are denied basic human rights and harassed by the Israeli military and the armed extremist settlers on a daily basis. To take just one example, Defence for Children International–Palestine reports that Israeli soldiers and settlers have killed 1,951 children since 2000.

Prime minister Ariel Sharon visits Haram al-Sharif in September 2000 in a deliberate act of provocation. The 2nd intifada followed. Photo by Getty images.

Within this climate, the visit by Israel’s minister of agriculture Uri Ariel to the al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, along with a group of right wing Jewish extremists protected by armed Israeli forces, can only be seen as a deliberate provocation – one that is possibly designed to give Israeli extremists and hardliners in the government the opportunity to finish the job Sharon started. A reading of the Israeli government’s Hebrew language statements reinforces this theory.

At a recent press conference Netanyahu spoke in Hebrew about how there was a huge settlement drive during his years of leadership. At the same conference, Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon assured reporters that there had not been a settlement freeze for one minute. When asked if a new operation Defensive Shield might be necessary, Ya’alon told reporters that Israel has been on the offensive since Defensive Shield. He explained that before 2000, Israel could not get into Area A, an area that was handed over to the Palestinians in the first phase of the Oslo agreement. Now, he said Israel conducts operations in any area within the West Bank (with, he might have added, the support of the Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces).

These settlers, illegal under international law, danced and sang up and down Shuhada Street. Palestinians are prevented under military order to walk on Shuhada Street, although it is the main street in the Old City of Hebron. During Jewish festivals the movement restrictions on Palestinians and checkpoint closures are increased. From Alternative News, 7th October 2015

At the conference, Ya’alon called on Israeli Forces to be vigilant against Palestinian stabbing attacks, and to eliminate the terrorist stabber, the stone thrower and the like immediately on the spot. But the rhetoric wasn’t only aimed at security forces, Ya’alon was also quoted in the Jerusalem Post calling on civilians to carry firearms, as has Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat. So-called centrists like Yair Lapid also support the shoot to kill policy.

Israel is clearly implementing these plans. Human rights groups have protested: Amnesty International said that some recorded incidents amounted to extrajudicial killings while Human Rights Watch expressed concern regarding Israel’s deliberate use of fire against Palestinian demonstrators. There is harrowing footage of Israeli Jewish mobs attacking and killing unarmed Palestinians; the death of Fadi Alloun is just one example. And contrary to Israel’s claim of incitement by the PA as being the leading factor in causing the uprising, the reality on the ground tells a different story.

rather than spread lies, the prime minister should have backed the Knesset members from the Joint  List who strongly condemn the Islamic State terrorist organization and who on every platform oppose bloodshed and the killing of innocent people. MK Ayman Odeh, chairman Joint List

To begin with, the protestors are not limited to Palestinians under military siege and occupation in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT). They include high profile Palestinians who carry Israeli citizenship. Ayman Odeh, a member of the Knesset and leader of the Joint List is one of them. He accuses the government of Israel of acting “in the service of the settlers in what looks like a conscious attempt to incite and inflame the entire region to religious war.”

Ayman Odeh’s words must not be taken lightly. By framing the conflict as a religious war, Israel can cloak its effort to achieve complete control over all of historic Palestine with the understanding nod of the international community and neighbouring countries like Egypt and Jordan.

It is important not to ignore the repercussions Israel’s actions are having on both sides of the Green Line which divides Israel from the OPT. In recent days there have been large protests and demonstrations in a number of Palestinian towns within Israel. In one incident, protestors threw stones and firecrackers at Israeli police. A generation of Palestinians who were born under the Israeli flag, speak fluent Hebrew and carry Israeli citizenship led these protests. For decades they have lived as second-class citizens, denied an array of rights that are only offered to Jewish Israelis. They are frustrated with the systematic discrimination against them, and are standing united with Palestinians on the other side of the Green Line.

Palestinians in the grip of Israel’s military occupation have given up on any hope of a sovereign state. Palestinian youth are sending a clear message both to their occupiers and to their leaders. They are taking matters into their own hands and demanding their full human rights at any cost.

Palestinian protesters from Gaza use catapults to fire stones at Israeli security forces near the border fence with Israel, c. October 8th, 2015. Photo by Mohammed Abed/AFP

Even in places where confrontation with Israeli soldiers could mean instant death, as is the case in Gaza, young people protest against the attacks on their fellow Palestinians and their holy sites. It is widely recognized that Israel has turned Gaza into a prison camp, as even British Prime Minister David Cameron said – and that was five years ago. Gaza youth approaching the borders and throwing rocks at the soldiers dream of breaking free of this prison or die trying: By mid-October, nine Palestinian youths in Gaza were killed in this desperate endeavour.

Palestinian leaders have not intervened. Israel has made it clear they expect the Palestinian security forces to work with the Israeli military to crush the protests, and so far Mahmoud Abbas’ PA has mostly complied.

Musa Abu Marzouk, deputy chief of Hamas political bureau.

The de-facto Hamas government in Gaza has also made it  clear that it prefers not to be drawn into the rebellion. Its  political bureau deputy chief, Musa Abu Marzouk, spoke firmly against firing rockets into Israel as this would “transfer the campaign to a different front, and will snuff out the popular intifada.” Other militia groups in Gaza nevertheless fired a few rockets into Israel, causing no injuries. Israel’s response: an airstrike that killed a pregnant woman and her 3-year-old daughter. Footage of the father weeping over his dead daughter, begging her to wake up, has gone viral, prompting more calls for rebellion against Israel’s oppression and brutality.

Desperate Palestinian youth who have lived under occupation and siege their entire lives, with no hope of a future, risk their lives in their fight for freedom. But what are the Israelis fighting for? Having destroyed all chances of Palestinian statehood, Israel is fighting to maintain its occupation and subjugation of the Palestinian people, creating an apartheid state throughout the lands where its rule holds sway.

Samah Sabawi is a political commentator, author and playwright. She is a Policy Advisor to Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network, and member of the board of directors for the National Council on Canada Arab Relations (NCCAR). Sabawi wrote and produced Cries from the Land (Canada 2003), Three Wishes (Canada 2008) andTales of a City by the Sea (Palestine & Australia 2014). Her past work includes being public advocate for Australians for Palestine, Executive Director for the National Council on Canada Arab Relations (NCCAR) and Subject Matter Expert (SME) for the Canadian Foreign Service Institute’s Centre for Intercultural Learning.

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