The Third Intifada Has Started In All But Name
For Palestinians of the younger generations living inside the West Bank, this provided the perfect motivation for an armed rebellion of their own.
Since May of 2021, Palestinian political parties and analysts alike have been discussing the matter of when, not if, a Third Intifada will erupt and what this will look like. The reality is however, the new Intifada has already begun and is an Intifada in all but name, with some important distinctions.
So far this year, nearly 170 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli occupation forces. Despite this statistic not seeming too extreme when compared with the 319 Palestinians killed in 2021, the key distinction here is that the majority of the killings have been committed inside the occupied West Bank. Statistically, in the West Bank, this year has seen the second-highest home demolitions as a form of collective punishment since 2004. These two markers for what is going on inside the occupied territory today can tell us a lot about the nature of the ongoing tensions, not only by depicting the level of lethal violence used, but also armed resistance.
Included in the Palestinian death statistics that we see recorded inside the West Bank this year, are women, children, journalists, and the elderly. The three following cases prove the utter brutality with which Israeli occupation soldiers are using armed force against Palestinian civilians:
(Case 1) The targeted killing of veteran Palestinian-American journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh, murdered in Jenin refugee camp. Shireen was not only targeted as a clearly marked journalist, but the lack of regard that "Israel" had for her American citizenship and national status, going after her family in the wake of the murder and attacking pallbearers at her funeral, says a lot about the way in which the Israeli regime views its new policy in regard to West Bank.
(Case 2) On September 30, a 7-year-old Palestinian child, Rayan Suleiman, suffered cardiac arrest after Israeli soldiers raided his family’s home in the town of Tequa. Eyewitnesses say that occupation forces had chased after Rayan and accused him of throwing stones, threatening to arrest him, moments later the little boy was said to have gone into cardiac arrest due to fear. Although raids are usual in the West Bank, such rampant raid campaigns, not seen since the Second Intifada, have resulted in horrifying incidents, like this, as Israeli forces are clearly more angered by the current circumstances.
(Case 3) In April, Israeli occupation forces opened fire on 44-year-old Ghada Sabateen, a mother of six who was partially blind in both eyes, leaving her to bleed to death. After initially claiming she was in possession of a knife, the Israeli military later admitted that she was unarmed, but had moved “suspiciously” toward soldiers at a checkpoint near Bethlehem. That same day three other Palestinians were murdered and the killing proved how trigger happy and paranoid Israeli forces had become inside the West Bank. It is clear that there is no regard for Palestinians, as the human beings they are, instead they are all potential targets.
The beginning of a new Intifada
May of 2021 represented a turning point in the conflict between Palestinians and the Zionist regime, although a new massacre was wrought onto the Gaza Strip, the armed resistance movements managed to strategically outwit the Israeli military. At the same time, the armed conflict between Gaza and "Israel" would not have occurred if it wasn’t for a popular uprising inside the Eastern part of occupied al-Quds, the 1948 occupied territories, and the West Bank. Saif Al-Quds (the sword of Jerusalem) was a military offensive by a unified front of all Palestinian armed groups operating inside the besieged Gaza Strip, it brought together Marxists, Secular nationalists and Islamists alike, all to respond to the plea of the Palestinian masses to defend them.
For Palestinians of the younger generations living inside the West Bank, this provided the perfect motivation for an armed rebellion of their own. Despite being isolated from the armed resistance in Gaza geographically, surrounded on all sides by the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s security apparatus and the Israeli military, the historic strongholds of armed struggle in the West Bank rose again. In September of 2021, the Jenin Brigades declared their existence and marked a new turning point in the West Bank conflict. The Jenin Brigades is a name declared for a bunching together of several cadres, linked to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) movement, however, the Jenin Brigades umbrella organisation actively includes members that are aligned with the armed wings of Hamas, the PFLP, DFLP and the unofficial Fatah armed militia known as the al-Aqsa Martyrs brigades.
There are a few key things to note about the new armed movements, all of which point towards the conclusion that we are now living through the early stages of the third Intifada. All of the following points have to be taken into account when understanding the current reality:
- The armed groups consist of Palestinians, primarily aged between 18-25.
- The armed groups are situated primarily in the north of the West Bank and in refugee camps.
- The groups do not fall under any known, or coherent, command and control structure.
- The fighters are not well trained but possess extreme bravery and welcome martyrdom.
- There seems to be no traceable factionalism and all political leanings are accepted in their ranks.
The younger generation of Palestinians, especially those living in the camps, have seen nothing but violence and most do not remember the political situation during the Second Intifada or morale implications of Israel’s crackdowns. The older generation of Palestinians remember the armed resistance factions being crushed brutally, including everything around them, with those not officially destroyed having to settle down to join the PA’s security forces that had been completely rebuilt to serve Israel. The defeat inflicted upon the West Bank’s resistance during the Second Intifada was not only physical, but most prominently psychological. Those who believed in their resistance with a sense of pride, not only suffered in the material sphere and with their lives, but also were so crippled mentally that the popular desire for armed struggle was impacted massively.
Israel’s murderous ‘Operation Defensive Shield’, between March 1 to May 7, 2002, resulted in hell for the Palestinians; 497 killed, 1,447 injured, round-the-clock curfews were implemented resulting in a lack of food and medical supplies, 17,000 people were also made homeless and 361 million US dollars in damage to civilian infrastructure was recorded, according to the United Nations. The younger generation does not remember this in the same way their parents do, for them, it fits into a long history of oppression and socio-economic disparity in their lifetimes. At the time, to those who lived through that period however, it was a fully blown Machiavellian style crackdown; that is to say you never simply make a martyr, you destroy your enemy completely or buy them out, this is what "Israel" implemented and without any remorse.
Nowadays, the Palestinian resistance in the West Bank is in its earlier stages, growing from the Balata and Jenin refugee camps and spreading throughout the territory slowly. Shooting attacks, often causing no injuries, occur every day now in the West Bank, against Israeli military sites and settlements. This has caused Israeli settlers, out of fear, to call for another Operation Defensive Shield, however, "Israel" cannot do what it did in the past as there will be dire consequences. The Palestinian Authority possesses a security force that numbers in the tens of thousands, who, unlike the armed resistance groups, are well trained and equipped to deal significant blows to the Israeli military.
"Tel Aviv" can choose to crack down on the Palestinian armed groups, but cannot launch a full scale attack out of the fear that the Palestinian Authority’s security forces will switch sides and join the resistance, it is even possible that from there the PA could collapse. At this point, the Zionist regime will be face with waging war and/or evacuating various settlements. Unlike the first Intifada, the second Intifada was much more heavily influence by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO). The PLO, now absorbed into the PA that partially runs segments of the West Bank, is not on board with an Intifada and has not put their power behind the people, but on a grassroots level the people are creating an Intifada with their own hands. Eventually the PA will either be faced with accepting the Intifada and attempting to control it, or will fall victim to it.
"Israel’s" open-fire policy has already been amended, starting from the end of 2021, under its former Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, allowing for its soldiers to shoot Palestinians who pose no immediate threat to Israelis. "Israel" is conducting massive raid and arrest campaigns and began using anti-tank missiles inside the West Bank earlier this year, now there has even been talk of authorizing UAV strikes, assassinations from the air. On the other hand, the Palestinian resistance is growing by the day, Israeli settlers are beginning to fear the consequences of their aggression again and the popular non-violent forms of struggle are receiving even greater support from the youth. This, as the University Student’s in the likes of Birzeit University, where the Second Intifada is often tracked to have started, are becoming more revolutionary and the support for armed struggle, regardless of which political group is taking up arms, is receiving mass youth support. The Intifada is here, the media only hesitates to call it this because it doesn’t look the same as it did in 2000, or in 1987. Soon this will escalate and it will be officially declared.