Palestine: An Unprecedented Rebellion

By Ángel Guerra Cabrera on May 20, 2021

Photo: Bill Hackwell

The aggression and the attempts by extremist paramilitary units to take away Palestinian families’ houses in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem, and the Israeli occupation of the Al Aqsa Mosque right in the holy month of Ramadan – these were the last straws that finally brought Palestinian patience to an end and resulted in the extremely serious current actions against Gaza by Israel and the general repression of the Palestinians.

This mosque is one of the three most sacred sites of Islam. Hamas set a deadline for Israel to cease their aggressions against the dwellers in Sheikh Jarrah, and the occupation of the mosque, warning that, once that deadline passed, they would begin to launch missiles from the poverty-stricken, unhealthy and blockaded Gaza Strip. When the deadline was up, a broadside of missiles was launched and Israel responded with habitual arrogance, firing much more deadly missiles and attacking Gaza with combat aircraft.

It is ridiculous to talk of this as being war because those who are being assaulted don’t have even the shadow of an army, much less one that could compare with that of Israel, which has one of the fourth or fifth best equipped armed forces in the world, thanks to the splendid generosity of Israel’s unconditional ally, the United States.  Not only this, but they have been supplied with between 250 and 300 atomic weapons, in an open violation of international law. No wonder Washington points fingers at Tehran, which has no nuclear weapons, and remains silent about the atomic arsenal of the U.S.’s protegé, Israel.  This is the same cynicism with which Israel’s “right to defend themselves” is argued and a call for a cease-fire is blocked in the UN Security Council.  But with a strong Democratic Party progressive wing that has called the Israeli policies Apartheid and with surprising world solidarity, it does not appear that Biden will be able to maintain this position for much longer.

The robbery of land and water sources from the Palestinians by the Israelis has been ongoing.   May 15 marks the 73rd year since the Nakba, the great territorial dispossession that occurred with the War of 1948, which was preceded by a wave of Zionist terrorism.

But, far more important than the missiles launched from Gaza against the occupying power is the massive general strike and mobilization of the Palestinian people that began this past Tuesday, May 18 with hundreds of thousands of participants, the most seen in many years of resistance.  “This is the first time in decades that we see the Palestinians overcome political divisions and take part in a huge general strike,” wrote Nida Ibraim, the Al Jazeera correspondent in Ramala.

The Palestinians marched in streets full of the ruins of Gaza – now bombed with more force than ever before by U.S.-made F-35 rockets – and in the streets of TransJordan and Jerusalem, occupied and under fire.  Also in Palestinian villages within Israel – Al-Lud, Umm Al-Fahm, Kufr Qana, and others – where some saying that they are on the verge of civil war. We can recall no other protest in which the majority of the population of Arabic origin in what was the former Palestine, including those residing in Israel, have participated.  One must see the decisive faces of the girls and boys in the videos, because although this is a general uprising, it is the young men and women who are the principal movers and leaders of this new Palestinian revolution that already has a name: the Unity Intifada. An infinite accumulation of criminal actions and grievances are what underlies this explosion. In Palestine they have always fought bravely against the occupation, but the statement of the Progressive International is revealing; the last general strike in Palestine occurred in 1936 and lasted 174 days.

A manifesto directed to the Palestinian people called The Intifada of Unity was circulated on Tuesday May 18 to demonstrators in all the territories, villages, and towns. It affirms that his great intifada is at its heart an intifada of conscience. It is an intifada to strip off the layers of silence and defeatism. Due to this, courageous generations yet to come will be brought up once more in the fundamental principle of our unity. This will confront those members of the elite who work to deepen divisions among and within our communities, and make these divisions permanent – and in this the manifesto formulates a criticism within the Palestinian side.

And, in effect, what is occurring is that the Palestinian masses, above and beyond their eventual relation with one or another faction, have been acting with an absolutely clear understanding and getting rid of the divisive lines that have done so much damage to the resistance. Many are proud of the humble missiles launched with so much effectiveness by Hamas and the Islamic Jihad against the Israeli side, since they evaluate them as an action of self-defense proportionate to their scarce resources, a worthy complement to the actions of the masses on the march, that, perhaps as never before, has made the occupying power feel genuine fear.

Source: La Jornada, translation Resumen Latinoamericano – English