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Operation Peace for the Occupation

Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat
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Israeli security personnel near the scene of the attack in Tel Aviv, Thursday
Israeli security personnel near the scene of the attack in Tel Aviv, ThursdayCredit: Hadas Parush
Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat

Shortly after the despicable terror attack in Tel Aviv Thursday, hundreds of security personnel arrived at the scene. Had it been a similar incident without the “security” label, it’s hard to imagine a similarly swift response or a similar quantity of soldiers and police officers. On Friday there were frightful shootings in Arab town, with many casualties – in Rahat (five wounded), in Arabeh (two wounded) and in Gush Halav (one seriously wounded). But no one will remember them. Who cares about Arabs?

I don’t know if there’s another state, even a superpower, that can sending so many security forces so quickly to the scene of a security incident while at the same time demonstrating such complete inaction in the face of other murderous incidents. The main message sent by this behavior is that security here is mainly intended to preserve the occupation’s good name, lest people say, heaven forbid, that it’s undermining Israelis’ peace of mind. The security of the occupation is maintained with an iron first, so it and all its satellites can sleep the sleep of the just. And crime can also rest easy, but for the opposite reason – there’s nobody to hold it in check.

Due to the heavy clouds, Israelis don’t understand that there’s a causal connection between the occupation and the terror attacks. How did this absurd separation – occupation on one side, terror attacks on the other – develop? What blindness has afflicted the country? Where is the hero who will tell Israelis that they are connected?

Someone who has been humiliated at a checkpoint (every Palestinian has had this dubious experience), someone who has been detained (hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have sat in our prisons), someone whose relative was killed (many families have been affected), someone whose children’s bedroom has been raided (there are many such cases) – the pain and humiliation create, deep in his soul, a desire for vengeance.

How did Shakespeare’s Shylock put it? “If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?”

The occupation sanctimoniously declares, “Look at how murderous the Arabs are.” As if soldiers were handing out chocolate and baklava in the streets of Nablus and Jenin, or alternatively, as if the Palestinians had been given wide leeway to engage in civil protest. What hypocrisy. After all, the occupation suppresses every popular protest movement with an iron fist. At every demonstration, Palestinians are liable to be killed. They are shot and murdered even in confrontations that don’t endanger the soldiers.

The occupation is neck-deep in preventing political activity. At any given moment, there are hundreds of so-called administrative detainees, jailed without trial for long periods. The occupation’s courts are already boycotted by Palestinian lawyers because of their automatic bias in its favor. And don’t forget the six civilian organizations that have been outlawed.

So what is left for a Palestinian to do? If every possibility for protest is forbidden, the Palestinian suffering in the occupation’s coils evidently tells himself that the only thing he can do is to commit terror attacks.

The occupation government drags Palestinians, apparently deliberately, into its preferred arena – that of armed conflict. In this arena, there is no symmetry between the sides. And on the flip side, the sight of attacks against Israeli civilians tarnishes the Palestinians’ just struggle and paints it in the colors of terrorism, thereby eroding the international solidarity it deserves.

Israel paints every Palestinian struggle – popular, volunteer, political, diplomatic – in the colors of terrorism. That’s how we got all kinds of “terrorism” – popular terror, political terror, diplomatic terror. Israel only wants one kind of Palestinian response, the kind that will give it the ability to employ what it usually employs – lethal force – while at the same time winning the support of the Israeli public.

This tactic is already of long standing. And its sole purpose to preserve the occupation, whose loathsome, awful stench fills our nostrils. The Palestinians must refuse to satisfy the desires of the Israeli occupation.

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