October 13th, 2015 3:58 PM by Nour Ailan
The third Palestinian intifada has erupted. It will go down in history as the Jerusalem intifada.
“Jerusalem is exploding, the West Bank is on fire…the rioting has spread to Jaffa,” wrote Asher Schechter in the Israeli newspaperHaaretz on Wednesday.
On Friday, at least six Palestinians were killed and over 60 were wounded during clashes with Israeli forces near the Gaza border fence. In Hebron, a 22-year-old Palestinian was killed. Throughout East Jerusalem and the West Bank, 410 Palestinians were wounded during clashes with Israeli troops and right-wing Jewish vigilantes.
Israelis were also killed and wounded by Palestinians, however in much lesser numbers. The frightening development from Israel’s perspective is the high number of stabbings and attacks in pre-1967 Israel.
What has precipitated this intense wave of violence?
The spark of this intifada has been East Jerusalem and the endangerment of the status of Haram Al-Sharif, or the Noble Sanctuary, and what the Jews call the Temple Mount. A campaign by right-wing fundamentalist Jews, supported by right-wing members of the Israeli prime minister’s own cabinet, has raised suspicion that Israel intends to change the status quo and effectively take control of the site.
-- The continued and unabated building of Israeli settlements in both East Jerusalem and the West Bank has led to fears among Palestinians that it is a matter of time before the viability of a Palestinian state will evaporate;
-- The Israeli government’s abandonment of the peace process has led to the loss of hope among Palestinians for an end to Israel’s oppressive occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the UN General Assembly recently, “We cannot continue to be bound by these signed agreements [Oslo Accords] with Israel, and Israel must assume fully its responsibilities of an occupying power.”
This could be interpreted as the dissolution of the Palestinian Authority or, more narrowly, the end of security cooperation with Israel. Either option would be detrimental and costly to Israel’s interests;
-- To the chagrin of the Palestinians, the world’s focus and attention has shifted to other parts of the world, especially Syria. During the most recent UN General Assembly speeches, none of the leaders of the five countries who hold veto power even mentioned the moribund Israel-Palestinian peace process.
At the same time, many parts of the Arab world are embroiled in internal uprisings and are too busy to worry about, let alone, support the Palestinians. In short, the Palestinians have to fend for themselves.
-- Israel’s response to the violence has been to use more violence, such as loosening the live-fire regulations against Palestinian demonstrators. Some Israeli officials have called for civilians who own arms to carry them at all times.
Not much will happen until the casualties on both sides are too large to be ignored by the international community. The Palestinians have reached a point of no return — an existential threat looms before them. They either fight for their freedom or they will be relegated as Israel’s cheap labor and third-class inhabitants, not citizens, of an expanded Israel.
With the exception of the two wars with Hamas, Israel has enjoyed relative peace and calm while building settlements and eliminating the prospects of a viable Palestinian state.
Violence begets violence, which is the sad reality. However, before Israel and Palestine explode, it is imperative for the world to intervene and, if need be, force both sides, to sit down and hash out a peace agreement that will satisfy Palestinian aspirations for a state of their own, and provide for Israel’s long-term security.
The alternative is utter destruction.
Written By Bishara A. Bahbah