This Tuesday night, a young Palestinian man from the West Bank carried out a shooting attack in Tel Aviv, leaving 5 dead. The attack was the third in just 7 days and has lead to a massive Israeli crackdown on Palestinians.
Twenty six year old Diaa Hamarsheh, from the town of Ya’bad in Jenin (West Bank), carried out a deadly attack in the Bnei Brak neighbourhood of Tel Aviv. The Tuesday night attack was the third major attack inside Israel in seven days, which have left a total of 11 Israelis dead, making this week the most deadly for Israelis since 2006. Unlike the two other attacks, the most recent was carried out by a Palestinian from the West Bank. The shooter, affiliated with the secular Fatah political party, travelled from the West Bank into Israel to carry out the shooting operation.
The two previous attacks were carried out by Israeli citizens, the first by a Bedouin man from the Negev and the second by two Palestinian citizens of Israel from Umm al-Fahm. The first attack targeted random Israeli bystanders in Beersheba, whilst the second was a well coordinated attack on armed Israeli forces. These two attacks were carried out by Islamists, all the attackers affiliated loosely with Daesh according to Israeli intelligence services. The most recent attack was carried out by a member of the secular nationalist Fatah Party.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas, both Islamic political parties, praised the latest attack, but did not claim responsibility, despite Israeli assertions that they had inspired such an action. Later, the unofficial military wing of Fatah, Kataeb Shuhada al-Aqsa (Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades), then claimed responsibility for the attack.
Fifty one Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since the start of 2022, of which many were children and other civilians. Violence both from settler groups against Palestinians in the occupied territories has been on the rise as of May last year, with Israeli arrest campaigns against minors also escalating. According to the ‘Defence of Children International’, in the past 6 years, 75% of Palestinian children detained by the Israeli military have been subject to physical violence.
Although there has been a spotlight placed upon the recent killings of Israeli citizens in what Israeli Premier, Naftali Bennett, has called “a wave of murderous Arab terrorism,” little attention has been placed upon the root causes. Double standards also run deep when it comes to Western condemnation of such actions on both sides; whilst UK, US, and Arab Regime officials openly condemn the recent attacks against Israelis, there has consistently been silence about the killing of Palestinians.
In previous articles I have addressed some of the root causes behind the current escalation in tensions, in order to provide the correct context for the recent shooting attacks. I addressed the points of the persecution of Bedouin Palestinians and the dispossession of their lands in the Negev region, pointing out that 2,000 Bedouin homes are on average destroyed every year by Israeli forces. I also pointed out that all the leading human rights groups, including inside Israel itself, are openly calling Israel an Apartheid regime. In addition to this, many other root causes of the violence exist.
The most key point to note, however, is that this wave of violent attacks against Israelis follows a historical pattern and fits into a larger picture. When Palestinians feel helpless and lack political representatives which hold positions capable of assuring peace and their national aspirations, this sort of violence comes as a response. We saw this dating back to the early 1900’s under the British Mandate, prior to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, with the most recent manifestation of this kind of reactionary violence dating back to the early 2000’s during the Al-Aqsa Intifada. Once the “peace process” between the Palestinian Authority and Israeli regime deteriorated, replaced by further hostility between both sides, Palestinians resulted to desperate tactics to oppose their oppressors.
The wave of attacks escalated with the start of the Al-Aqsa Intifada in September 2000, after Israel’s Ariel Sharon stormed the al-Aqsa mosque amid growing attacks on the Palestinian people. At this time, the Palestinian Authority faced a growing lack of confidence, which eventually forced the PA — then led by Yasser Arafat — to join the armed struggle against Israel, which at that time took its most well known form in the way of suicide bomb attacks.
Today, opposition to the PA led by its President Mahmoud Abbas, is higher than ever before and the past two Israeli Prime Ministers have openly rejected the idea of creating a viable State for the Palestinians. Both Benjamin Netanyahu, former Israeli PM who now heads the opposition in the Israeli government, and current PM Naftali Bennett refuse to even sit at the negotiating table with the PA. So not only are the PA seen by most Palestinians as a collaborator force that is at the will of the Israeli occupier, Israel is not even entertaining the idea of sitting down for a dialogue on a political solution. The last attempt at any meaningful dialogue occurred under the Obama administration, when John Kerry announced he would launch an initiative to solve to conflict in 2013, but it went nowhere. In 2010 were the last true direct talks between the PA and Israel. Yet since the time of the Arab Peace initiative, first introduced in 2002, there has been no real reason to hope that talks between the two sides would lead anywhere.
The question becomes, what are Palestinians to do at this point? The most popular Palestinian political Party, Hamas, is sanctioned by the West and it is besieged in the Gaza Strip. Israel refuses to engage with Hamas, as does the EU, US and UK, which means that the organisation with the most popularity is completely cut out of the picture. The corrupt Palestinian Authority elites refuse to fight Israel for a two-State solution and operate as a defacto collaborator against Palestinians. Israel refuses to even talk to their puppets in Ramallah about two-States. The Arab regimes are further normalizing ties with Tel Aviv. Israel’s apartheid system and settlements are only growing more entrenched and to top this off nonviolent resistance has not even been able to achieve the lifting of the illegal blockade on Gaza.
With no meaningful representation, no reason to hope for peace and Israel answering peaceful demonstrators with explosive bullets, what options are left? In 2018, on March 30, Palestinians in Gaza began gathering in their hundreds of thousands to protest Israel’s siege and demand their right of return – holding banners urging the UN to implement its general assembly resolution 194. What was the Israeli answer to this nonviolent series of demonstrations that Western liberals constantly lecture Palestinians on? Israeli snipers killed over 300 unarmed civilians and injured over 30,000. The mainstream media in the West called the demonstrations “clashes” on the Gaza-Israel “border”. No Israelis were killed or seriously injured, there were no “clashes” and there is no “border” between the two territories. The international community sat by and watched Palestinians die, it backed Israel as their forces laughed when using internationally banned munitions on children, medical workers and journalists.
Now, in response to the three attacks inside Israel, Israeli settler extremism and an Israeli military escalation is working to further cement the belief that resistance by any means necessary should be adopted as a strategy. Following the latest attack in Tel Aviv, at least 31 Israeli settler attacks on Palestinians occurred, in less than a day, just in the West Bank. Israel has also enforced a policy of deploying more occupation forces into the West Bank and adopting more brutal tactics, with 4,000 additional police deployed by Israel and a mass wave of administrative detentions – held without a charge – is now being dished out against Palestinian citizens of Israel.
Making the situation worse, Israel has decided to restrict access once again for Palestinians wishing to enter Al-Aqsa Mosque during the Holy month of Ramadan. An announcement has been made that at least 3,000 Israeli occupation forces will additionally be deployed around Jerusalem, both moves which led to an escalation of violence last Ramadan. Far-right Israeli lawmaker, Itamar Ben-Gvir, also pledged earlier this week to storm al-Aqsa mosque, to which Israeli authorities refused to act to prevent him.
Palestinians have been left alone in the world, nobody cares when they die and nobody seems to care that they are left hopeless with no real representation. When their backs are against the wall, the Palestinian people are not a nation that will go down without a fight. We will continue to see the armed struggle develop and it will only get worse from here if there are no solutions placed in front of them. This issue has been ongoing now since 1948 and it is the failure of the international community to address it that means that the Palestinians will take matters into their own hands, by any means necessary. This is not a good sign for Israel and the attacks we have seen in the last 7 days are a symptom of a larger problem that is the elephant in the room. It has been the elephant in the room since 1948 and that is the issue of the Palestinian right to self determination, justice and human rights.