By Georgina Reeves
Over the past few days, the talk of a third Intifada breaking out in the occupied Palestinian territories has increased. But it isn’t Palestinians living under the occupation who are talking up the chances of a third uprising against Israel’s continued oppression in the territories.
An internet search of news for “third Intifada” offers a few hundred results, with the majority of the articles published in Israeli or Jewish-interest media. Headlines include: “Terrorists in West Bank Declare Start of Third Intifada” (algemeiner.com), “Is a Third Intifada Starting in the West Bank?” (TheTrumpet.com) and “PA Arabs Launch New Terror Brigade, Promise Third Intifada” (IsraelNationalNews.com).
Khaled Abu Toameh, writing for the Gatestone Institute, proclaims that “Palestinians: The Third Intifada Has Begun.” According to Toameh, Abbas and Meshal want to: “…drag Israel into a confrontation with Palestinian civilians—one that would embarrass the Israelis among the international community and force them to capitulate.” His primary evidence for this is that the PA allowed supporters to celebrate Hamas’ 25th anniversary across the West Bank.
Toameh then goes on to cite that “sources” in Ramallah have disclosed that the two men—Abbas and Meshal—have agreed in secret to launch a popular Intifada using the stones and molotovs of the first Intifada rather than attacks conducted inside Israel during the second. In fact, according to Toameh, the third Intifada has already begun “as violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers have increased in various parts of the West Bank”.
Over the past month or so there has been a clear upsurge in violence across the West Bank, but that violence is coming from the IDF and from settlers against Palestinians, not vice versa. It is Palestinians who are under attack. In Hebron, a young man was shot dead by an Israeli border guard on his 17th birthday, the exact circumstances still unclear. A video since released by the IDF raises more questions than it answers, particularly as there appears to be a segment of unknown length missing and the statement of the officer who fired the lethal shot contradicts what is seen in the footage.
At the weekend, dozens of settlers from the illegal colony of Yitzhar attacked a small Palestinian village to the south of Nablus, hospitalizing a young woman, damaging her home and destroying personal property. Across the West Bank—from Beit Rima to Tubas, from Bethlehem to Nablus—nightly incursions from the army result in yet more Palestinian men and youths being taken from their homes and imprisoned. These are just a few examples of the recent escalation of Israeli-sponsored violence against Palestinians under occupation.
Last Friday in Hebron a video was released showing eight masked Palestinians from various political factions announce the formation of a new military group that will start the third Intifada. Whether this is the reaction of a small group of young, angry men sick of seeing their brothers imprisoned or killed, or whether this is a more organized and developed cell, it is impossible to know, and doesn’t really matter. The majority of Palestinians living under occupation cannot face the prospect of a third Intifada now. Many remember the devastation the second Intifada brought to Palestine and do not wish to relive those dark days again, so even if this is an organized movement, it is not going to gain popular support.
A third Intifada at this point, initiated by Palestinians, is highly unlikely, so why is the prospect being raised so loudly now in Israel? The first Intifada brought international recognition to the Palestinian cause and enabled some exiled Palestinians to return (to the West Bank and Gaza), but then came Oslo. The second Intifada only benefited Israelis, not Palestinians. Since the latest Israeli onslaught on Gaza, world opinion, and importantly Western opinion, has seen a positive shift towards the Palestinians. The successful vote at the United Nations has also provided Palestinians with a more credible voice. But when push comes to shove, Israel believes it still has significant support from the Western nations that prop it up, so it will risk igniting a third Intifada to try and discredit Palestinians while shoring up its facts on the ground while it can.
So Toameh’s article has some truth in it, but it is in fact the truth reversed. It is Israel that wants the Intifada, not Palestinians. It is Israel that has more to gain, not Palestinians. And it is Israel that is carefully posing the idea of an Intifada hoping that these seeds will fall on the fertile anger of the youth in Palestine. A third Intifada will bring much destruction to Palestinian society, again. And it will be Palestinians living under occupation who will be the ones who have to pay a heavy price, again.
Sometimes, if you say something often enough, it comes true. It’s as if the constant repetition, the embedding of words and phrases in the mind, somehow makes the outcome inevitable. It seems that’s what Israel is banking on. And it is entirely conceivable that one event could trigger a reaction that does lead to another uprising.
There will be a new era of resistance from Palestinians living under occupation, an era that once again unites Palestinians from all backgrounds to rise up together to demand justice. But that time isn’t now. The rumors of a third Intifada have been greatly exaggerated. For the time being, at least.
– Georgina Reeves splits her time between London and Bethlehem, and is a co-founding trustee of Ahdaf, a British charity working with Palestinian students to support youth empowerment and community development. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: http://georgie.ripserve.com.