There’s nothing to lose
The younger generation has known nothing but humiliation and injustice since the day they were born and now that what little light there was at the end of the tunnel has been extinguished, many feel they’ve little to lose. And what’s different now is that they have taken matters into their own hands and reject being controlled by the Palestinian Authority or resistance organizations.
Violence can never be condoned. But it’s worth reminding ourselves that the violence Israel has unleashed on an occupied population far outweighs what’s occurring now.
And lest we forget, under international law people under occupation have the right to resist. Moreover, the Fourth Geneva Convention expressly forbids an occupying power from transferring its own population into the territories it occupies and bars collective punishment.
So when Israel flouts all laws and conventions and is alleged to have committed war crimes in Gaza, it has no moral platform from which to cry foul. And its spokespeople’s attempts to give moral equivalence to the actions of Palestinian children with the barbarity of Daesh or Al-Qaeda would be laughable if it they weren’t so heinous.
So-called “lone wolf” knife attacks against Israelis by young people unconnected to the usual suspects are Israel’s worst nightmare causing many Israelis in Jerusalem to stay away from the old city. Israel has erected concrete blocks at crossings barring access to vehicles, causing great inconvenience.
Other recently introduced measures can only be described as inhuman. The bodies of alleged attackers will not be returned to their families for burial and, worse, the homes of relatives are being demolished while kids throwing stones at security services will receive mandatory sentences.
What’s really sickening is the shoot-to-kill policy implemented by Israeli police and soldiers. Videos showing a 28-year-old woman being gunned down for allegedly carrying a knife and a frightened 13-year-old boy lying on the ground bleeding from his head being told by Israelis “Die, you son of a ….” evidence just how cheap Israelis hold Palestinian lives.
A 15-year-old running from the police was shot multiple times in the back before his body was placed in black garbage bag like trash. Another vile action by Israelis was the placing of pork on the face of a boy as he was being carried into an ambulance on a stretcher. An unarmed elderly Palestinian man remonstrating with riot police was shot dead by a sniper.
Most worrying of all was the incident involving 18-year-old Fadel Al-Kawasmeh shot by a “religious” settler who told the police the victim had attacked him with a knife. The police made no attempt to confiscate the killer’s gun and there are witness accounts suggesting a knife was thrown next to the young man’s body. There is no way of knowing who attacked whom but it appears settlers, who’ve been torching Palestinian homes and orchards, have now been given free rein to shoot Palestinians whenever they feel like it. In fact, Netanyahu is intent on liberalizing gun licenses, leaving Palestinians vulnerable to haters able to cover up their crimes merely by chucking a knife into the mix.
Palestinians have been and still are being let down by their political leaderships and the international community that can only tut-tut as long as Israel is under the protection of the United States. An emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council when France proposed placing an international observer force in Jerusalem was predictably a damp squib because all Israel had to do was to object on the grounds such a force would alter the long-held status quo.
Obama has expressed his concern and tells both sides to tone down the rhetoric. But it’s not the rhetoric that’s inflaming Palestinian youth, it’s the long-held status quo Netanyahu holds to that subjugates millions and encages millions more in the world’s largest open-air prison. The best way to quell student fury is for Israel to stop its viciousness and begin treating Palestinians with respect as a first step. Step two would be an end to settlement expansion and the resumption of genuine negotiations. But as long as Israel has an old warhorse as its kingpin, fading hope will fan the flames of violence.
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point of view