In an earlier article Gaza and the Israeli Intervention, I had written on the savage and brutal retaliation by Israel against the Palestinians in Gaza for the unfortunate and revolting murder of three Jewish youths that “By launching indiscriminate attacks they have made a cardinal error that will cost them dearly in the future because while their ability to destroy Hamas is questionable, all that such attacks have achieved is to have created another two generations of ardent and motivated Hamas supporters who will want revenge.” The endless cycle of violence has again been reignited after just a couple of month’s respite, but with an added twist.
Palestinians of East Jerusalem of whom there are more than 200,000 are treated differently from other Palestinians and have been issue Israeli identity cards that permit them unrestricted travel and access within Israel.
The Palestinians wasted little time in striking back within the heart of Israel, but unlike earlier not with rockets and explosives that caused indiscriminate damage but by using innocuous items of daily use with devastating effect. This has yet to catch the attention of analysts, the media or even terror organizations elsewhere because the numbers involved are miniscule, there is little damage, other than the human casualties and no carnage or mass destruction for television cameras to catch.
Moreover the true portents of these attacks is still to be fully understood, yet, be under no illusions, the impact of these attacks on the Israeli psyche will be devastating as there is little that they can do to negate them.
It started blandly enough with a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem, Hosam Dwayyat, a bull- dozer driver, running amok on one of Jerusalem’s busiest roads and ramming and killing three Israelis before he was shot dead. East Jerusalem though declared by the Palestinians as their future capital was annexed by Israel in the Yom Kippur War and is considered to be an integral part of the holy city of Jerusalem. Palestinians of East Jerusalem of whom there are more than 200,000 are treated differently from other Palestinians and have been issue Israeli identity cards that permit them unrestricted travel and access within Israel.
The questions this incident raised and the difficulties it has created for the Israeli security establishment is easy to understand, more so since an earlier attack with a pistol by another East Jerusalem resident had resulted in six Israeli deaths.
To add to the woes of the security establishment these incidents have been followed by a spate of attacks. In October an East Jerusalem resident drove a car along a light railway track on to the platform and rammed into people waiting there resulting in the death of a young woman and a three month old baby apart from injuring numerous others.
While reasons for violence in the region are varied and complicated, one of the most abrasive and serious reason is the manner in which the Israeli Government has illegally occupied over one thousand acres of private Palestinian land in the West Bank.
Early in November, a copy- cat attack resulted in the death of a police officer and within twenty four hours another similar incident in the West Bank resulted in serious injuries to three Army soldiers. In the latest incidents within the week two Palestinian activists in two separate incidents in Tel Aviv and near Jerusalem attacked people with knives that resulted in the death of one woman and one soldier and injuries to several others.
While reasons for violence in the region are varied and complicated, one of the most abrasive and serious reason is the manner in which the Israeli Government has illegally occupied over one thousand acres of private Palestinian land in the West Bank. This has every appearance of an innocuous and routine activity that has been prevalent for decades. The far reaching consequences of such actions have been the focus of an Israeli journalist for the English language paper “Ha’aretz”, Gideon Levy. I am ashamed to say that I did not know who Gideon Levy until I chanced upon a documentary on him on an international media channel. He is arguably the most hated individual in Israel and for over the past thirty years he has written passionately about the manner in which Israel has mistreated the Palestinians in the occupied areas of the West Bank and in Gaza. His revelations on the atrocities committed by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and the settlers on the local Palestinian population with investigative reports of specific instances of murder, torture and theft show Israeli society and the State in extremely poor light.
What Mr. Levy has highlighted over the years is the degradation that has overtaken an army that has not fought a conventional war for over nearly four decades but has instead has found itself beset in unending low intensity conflicts in Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza. Religious bigotry, racial prejudice, an overwhelming sense of entitlement and a complete lack of unbiased judicial oversight has reduced this force to a caricature of what it once was. That he is disliked by the overwhelming majority of Israelis is not as important as the fact that he has single-handedly forced them to confront their own moral bankruptcy and complete absence of humanity, something we are witness to on an almost daily basis these days in Gaza. He has however ensured that this generation of Israelis can never ever say that “we didn’t know”.
As Israel finds itself sinking further into the morass of its own making and is forced to confront a security dilemma for which its security establishment and civil society is ill prepared, it may be worthwhile for them to consider neutralizing one important ingredient that has inflamed Palestinian passions and find a way in which they can look at the issue of illegal occupation of private land afresh. Such an action will indeed go a long way in assuaging Palestinian anger.