After months of Palestinian forces in the West Bank agreeing to “popular resistance” as a temporary tool to resist the occupation, Israel has intensified its pursuit of activists and those who participate in this form of resistance.
According to Palestinian officials and activists, Israel is trying, through a policy of arrest, summons, and threats to besiege the activists and limit the extent of confrontations that are costly and confusing for them.
The Palestinians go out in weekly demonstrations or on specific occasions called by the political factions to contact points to confront the occupation army, or to areas targeted for settlement or confiscation, and confrontations with the occupation break out.
While the Israeli army uses live and rubber bullets, gas and stun bombs, the Palestinians stand with their bodies, and in most cases they throw stones at the army.
On January 6, an Israeli military court – attended by diplomats and international activists – condemned Issa Amr, an anti-settlement activist from the city of Hebron (south), of 6 counts related to his peaceful work against settlements, including participation in demonstrations.
On January 8, the Israeli army arrested Saeed Arma from the village of Deir Jarir – east of Ramallah (central) – who was famous for confronting the occupation forces with a slingshot wearing traditional dress.
The next day, the occupation forces arrested Sami Al-Harini, a young man from the village of Tawana, in the south of the West Bank, hours after he participated in clashes with the occupation forces near his village.
A real onslaught
In turn, the founder of the Youth Against Settlement Association, Issa Amr, believes that these and other persecutions are part of a real attack on the popular resistance.
In his speech to Anadolu Agency, Amr suggested that his conviction in court would be the beginning of a condemnation of all peaceful action in Palestine.
He added that the occupation does not want any kind of resistance, and that is why it pursues activists and increases the cost of working against the occupation.
Amr links the intensification of the Israeli campaign and the international rally to support peaceful action, and the success of the Return Marches in breaking the thorn of the occupation in the Gaza Strip and exposing it internationally.
In view of the escalation of popular resistance in the West Bank on the one hand, and the occupation’s attempt to pass new settlement projects and deep inside the West Bank on the other hand, Amr says that “the occupation wants to silence all voices denouncing the settlements.
He adds that the occupation is concerned by the international community regarding settlement activities, especially after the end of the term of US President Donald Trump, and therefore he wants to silence all voices that address the international community.
The Israeli Peace Now organization says that settlement construction has quadrupled during the Trump era, compared to the four years preceding it.
Call to stop stalking
Amr is waiting for a prison sentence of up to 3 years on February 8, after he was convicted of participating in demonstrations, disrupting the work of the army and attacking settlers.
Prior to his conviction session, Amnesty International called in a statement for the politically motivated charges against activist Amr to be dropped.
The organization also urged the Israeli authorities to end their systematic attacks against Palestinian activists who are raising their voices and peacefully working against the prolonged Israeli military occupation.
The organization called on the international community to work to ensure protection for human rights defenders and activists in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory from arbitrary interference in their work.
Agree to popular resistance
On September 3, the general secretaries of the Palestinian factions agreed on their right to practice all legitimate methods of struggle, and agreed at this stage to develop and activate popular resistance “as a more appropriate option for the stage.”
The general secretaries also agree to form a unified national committee to lead the comprehensive popular resistance, provided that the Executive Committee of the PLO provides all the requirements for its continuation.
On September 13, the unified national leadership of popular resistance emanating from the meeting of secretaries-general issued a statement announcing the launch of a comprehensive popular struggle “that begins and will not end until national independence is achieved.”
Here, Wasel Abu Youssef, member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and coordinator of national forces and factions, links the escalation of the occupation campaign and the expansion of confrontations with the occupation.
Abu Youssef told Anadolu Agency, “The villages witnessing popular resistance increased, and these confrontations are no longer limited to Friday, but on the rest of the week there are confrontations in more than one place.”
He added that 15 sites are witnessing confrontations, and this increases the burden and cost on the occupation, which is trying, through arrests and severe suppression of activities, to limit their spread and expansion, but all of this will not succeed.
Abu Yusuf stressed that the expansion of participation in the resistance and the targeted places helps the continuation and perpetuation of the resistance, and thus attempts to limit it and break the will of the participants in it continue through arrests and summons.
He pointed out that the General Secretaries General’s agreement on popular resistance made it possible to expand it and program it to be sustainable.
He called for the participation of “all Palestinians” in the popular resistance, explaining that participation is still limited to the PLO factions, referring to the absence of Islamic Jihad and Islamic Resistance (Hamas) movements.
According to Israeli and Palestinian estimates, there are about 650,000 settlers in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem settlements, living in 164 settlements and dozens of outposts, all of which are considered illegal under international law.
Covenants, resolutions and international laws guarantee the right of peoples to resist occupation.
United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2649 of 1970 explicitly states the legitimacy of the Palestinian people’s struggle for self-determination.