Monday, December 17, 2012

A third intifada?

Intifada in Arabic (literally "throwing off") is the term adopted for the uprisings or insurrections that have taken place by the Palestinians against what they call "the occupation," in other words against Israel.  The first intifada occured in 1987 and the second, instigated by Yasir Arafat, was in 2000. 
Why would there be another intifada now?  It may be largely a maneuver by a disaffected youth segment of Palestinian society to show their activism and their disdain over the unsuccessful tactics of their leaders.  Neither the move by PA Pres. Abbas to obtain "non-member State status" at the UN, nor the rocket fire by Hamas from Gaza have made any real dents into Israel's capabilities.  When you compare this against the rhetoric of Mashaal and Abbas who talk graniloquently about destroying Israel and recapturing all of Palestine, it must be frustrating.  These maneuvers and actions raise hopes, but of course in the end fail to fulfil them.
A group of masked men met in Hebron, a current flashpoint, and publicly announced the formation of another terrorist movement called "the Brigades of National Unity."  These supposedly include members of Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and their cooperation is intended to send a message to the established organizations they they want unity.  It is not coincidental that this move comes only days after the first major march by Hamas members in the West Bank, where they have been and continue to be suppressed by Fatah. In fact after the march there was a clash between Hamas members and the PA police. 
Another reason for the possibility of an Intifada is the light hand that the Israeli border police and military use in dealing with clashes with stone throwing gangs of youth.  A recent incident in which an outnumbered patrol of IDF soldiers was filmed fleeing from advancing youths throwing stones and Molotov cocktails only enhances their empowerment.  The IDF announcement that the patrol and others had not actually retreated, but had moved to a better strategic position, seems only a rationalization for weakness in the face of determination. (During this clash in Hebron a young Palestinian was killed by a female Border Guard for brandishing a gun that turned out to be a model.)  Certainly the IDF must change its policy and show greater strength and determination in the face of such provocations, otherwise there will be another Intifada soon.  But, like the previous ones it can achieve nothing, with or without Palestinian unity.


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