As Israel held a meeting with US and Arab officials in the Negev region, Palestinian gunmen launched one of the deadliest attacks of its kind in over a decade. It appears that Israel is in for a renewed round of violent resistance to its policies against the Palestinians.
The ‘Negev Summit’ conference hosted Arab leaders from the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Egypt, as well as US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, in a retreat where Israel’s first President, David Ben-Gurion, is buried. The two day round of talks were described by Israel’s foreign minister, Yair Lapid, as “historic” and were set to stand as an example of how Israel was transcending what is often framed as a “hostile neighbourhood” to itself.
“This new architecture, the shared capabilities we are building, intimidates and deters our common enemies, first and foremost Iran and its proxies,” said Israel’s Lapid. Yet the triumphant moment and statement that Israel was hoping to send to the region was abruptly ruined by two Palestinian gunmen who pulled off one of the most deadly guerrilla operations inside Israel seen in a long time.
The two shooters, Ayman Agbarieh and Ibrahim Agbarieh, were from the Palestinian majority area of Umm al-Fahm and were Palestinian citizens of Israel. They were both killed after opening fire in the area of Hadera, near Haifa, targeting the Israeli police’s border forces and military personnel in what the Israeli intelligence called a calculated and coordinated attack. The two managed to kill two Israeli police officers, injuring 12 others to varying degrees, before being killed themselves.
The fact that this came only 5 days after an attack by a Bedouin Israeli citizen, in Beersheba, which killed 4 and injured others, send a strong message to not only the Israeli political and military establishment. Bedouin citizens of Israel and Palestinian citizens of Israel have both come to the point of taking arms up against Israelis. Whilst the attack in Beersheba was targeting random Jewish Israeli citizens, the attack in Hadera targeted heavily armed police forces, yet both came as a shock.
Since the end of the second Intifada in 2005-6, armed attacks in the heart of what the International Community recognizes as Israel, have been all but non-existent. It is especially rare that Palestinian citizens of Israel, especially among Bedouin Israelis, make the decision to take up arms. With tensions rising, only inflamed during last May’s 11-day war between Gaza and Israel, the Bedouin and Palestinian citizens of Israel are now facing a mounted Israeli campaign against their livelihoods. Bedouin’s in the Negev (al-Naqab) region had for the most part long forgotten their Palestinian identity and often were much more friendly to the Israeli establishment, despite the persecution their communities faced. Now, since the efforts to Judaize the Negev, we are seeing the dynamics changing. The efforts to settle millions of Jews in the Negev and ethnically cleanse Bedouin villages, has meant that an average of 2,000 Bedouin homes be demolished per year for example.
Israel has made crucial mistakes in its approach to the Bedouin and Palestinian citizens of Israel, most recently in the policing policy for Palestinians in cities like Umm al-Fahm, Haifa, Nazereth etc. This is paired with an environment of growing ultra-nationalism among Israeli Jews and ever escalating tensions in the occupied West Bank and more importantly Jerusalem.
The last high-profile “peace talks” between Palestinian and Israeli representatives broke down over a decade ago. Although Western leaderships pay lip service to a “two state solution”, it is generally accepted that this is simply fantasy. Israel’s past two Prime Ministers flatly reject the notion of establishing a Palestinian State and reject “peace talks”. This is whilst over 70% of Palestinians polled say they want the Palestinian Authority (PA) President, Mahmoud Abbas, to resign and the PA — which maintains partial rule in the West Bank — is viewed as nothing more than an Israeli puppet force. This is why Palestinians are again forming small armed cadres in the West Bank and launch frequent — although often unsuccessful — shooting attacks from a distance at Israeli military checkpoints and guard towers.
American Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, not only attended the Negev Summit, but also travelled to Ramallah — in the West Bank — to meet with Mahmoud Abbas. King Abdullah II also travelled to Ramallah to pay Abbas a visit, whilst rejecting an invitation to the Negev Summit. Although this meeting between the King of Jordan and PA President has been painted by Western media as a message in favor of a two-State solution and against the Arab normalization camp which attended the Negev summit, it is clear that Jordan seeks to help prop up Abbas above all. The legitimate demands of Palestinians to see real democracy in the occupied territories have been repeatedly ignored by Abbas and his inner circle, leading to growing animosity against the PA.
Palestinians do not see the PA as a real representative entity. They don’t even see the PA as holding any power or paving the way towards a peace settlement. They only see its gruesome collaboration with Israel’s occupation forces. With no dialogue for peace, no peace plan, no peace talks, and constant collaboration between the PA, the Arab regimes, and Israel, Palestinians are forced to struggle for their rights by other means.
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, B’Tselem, a recent UN Human Rights Council report and even a group from Harvard Law School have accused Israel of the crime of Apartheid. The question now becomes, how do you resist Apartheid if peaceful means falter?
As the Western world’s governments, media, and prominent popular culture figures, cheer on Ukrainians throwing Molotov cocktails and lionize armed resistance against the Russian military, it only gives more validity to Palestinians taking up arms against Israeli forces. The Western world’s elitists and media do not afford the right to armed struggle to the Palestinians, assuming that people will refrain from pointing out such blatant hypocrisy.
When there is no hope and your back is against the wall, you pursue any means necessary, and this scenario will not look pretty in the future. The Palestine-Israel conflict has entered a new phase. This is the beginning of a revived era of armed struggle and ending this round of guerrilla warfare tactics, once it has fully taken off, will not be any easy task.