There Is Never 'Quiet Time' in the West Bank

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Demolished tents in the Jordan Rift Valley, last year.

Haaretz military commentator Amos Harel wrote on Monday that “the West Bank has been relatively quiet lately,” in contrast to the mood a day earlier due to a shooting attack in Jerusalem’s Old City and a stabbing attack in Jaffa.

Harel added the following qualifier to his description of the quiet: “Other than local incidents, some of which have involved friction between neighbors: Palestinian villagers and residents of adjacent Jewish outposts.”

These words must be translated into the language of reality. Being written from an exclusively Israeli-security point of view, they provide readers with a distorted and deceptive picture.

For the majority of the readers who don’t follow the posts and tweets of the leftist activists, who report on what’s happening in that same supposedly relatively quiet West Bank, Harel’s words anaesthetize them from a true understanding of the situation.

First of all, the “West Bank” is an area that does not exist in itself, it’s an expanse Israel deliberately stole. The Palestinians are imprisoned in pens, each one surrounded by some or all of the following: fences, walls, surveillance cameras, drones and balloons, soldiers programmed to be indifferent to non-Jewish pain, watchtowers and shooting, settlements, outposts and travel restrictions.

Second, settler terrorism against the Palestinians is not “friction” between neighbors. It is a sophisticated tool in the arsenal of Israel’s methods of expropriation, and on the route to greater wealth and material success for more Israelis.

And third, if we stick to the Hebrew root “peh-gimmel-ayin,” which means to cause harm or to attack, in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Israel and Israelis are harming all the Palestinians all the time (the same is true in the Gaza Strip and in Israel itself, but we’ll focus on the West Bank, as an example).

Most of these harmful acts are not immediately lethal. Their destructive harm is cumulative, they affect people’s souls, pockets and health, the latter because they contribute to high blood pressure, diabetes and other illnesses directly related to chronic tension and anxiety.

Every length of fence that prevents people from reaching their land is an attack. So is every cocked rifle that frightens children in their beds, every bureaucratic order that restricts movement, every demolition order for a cistern or a sheep pen, every refusal to register in the Palestinian population registry women who have been living here with their families for decades.

An attack is the shouts of an invisible female soldier through the loudspeaker at a crowded checkpoint. East Jerusalem’s isolation from the rest of Palestinian territory is a multiple assault.

Imposing a quota on how much water Palestinians may consume, and subjecting herding communities to constant thirst, is nothing less than an act of sabotage, a continuous onslaught. Declaring a specific area state land is an assault against the past, present and future of every village and town whose land has been stolen.

And we haven’t even gotten to the threatening, arrogant and lethal presence of Israeli policemen in East Jerusalem, nor have we touched on soldiers who shot at, killed and wounded Palestinians protesting the theft of their land.

The relative quiet is from one side only, and faced with the ongoing Israeli assault (“noise”) against the Palestinian people, it merits attention. What stands out is the fact that only a few Palestinians choose to respond to the perpetual Israeli assault with shooting or stabbing. The vast majority know enough to bottle up their feelings of despair, anger and helplessness under the appearance of normalcy.

You may say that this restraint is a result of the supervision, repression and enforcement of discipline by the Shin Bet security service, the IDF and the Palestinian Authority.

You’re not mistaken. But the restraint should be mainly attributed to the conclusion reached by the Palestinian society, that for the time being, and given the imbalance of power, it is impossible to destroy Israeli complacency with another stabbing or shooting attack.

Meanwhile, in the absence of trustworthy leadership and a united strategy, no desperate individual act will advance the Palestinians in the struggle against Israeli foreign rule, which is the number one perpetrator of terror attacks.

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