Will the Intifada escalate in 2016?

2015 was far from being the year when Palestinians saw their aspirations for freedom, independence, securing the right of return of refugees, and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem coming closer to realization. Instead, those who fought on the front lines against the occupation found themselves in uneven battles against Israeli soldiers and/or armed settlers backed by the IOF.

The question on many minds is: Will things get worse? Will violence escalate? And what will the costs be? Who will pay? Talk that suicide bombings may be an inevitable consequence of the current spate of violence is growing. There is a feeling that various Palestinian terrorist factions may replace the ‘lone-wolf attacks’.

 

It is disconcerting that an average of 59% of Palestinians believe that suicide bombings against civilians were often or sometimes justified. Two-thirds of Palestinians support knife attacks against Israelis. Indeed desperation has taken hold with even hints of progress on the peace front being elusive. On the other hand, Palestinians find themselves pushed to a corner- more settlements, more repression, an unending blockade in Gaza, check points designed to humiliate and enforce more hurdles to normal life, destruction of livelihoods, and more. The Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs (CPA) said, on Tuesday, that at least 6,830 Palestinians were detained by Israeli troops in the occupied Palestinian Territory since the beginning of the year 2015, marking the highest rate of daily arrests in five years. 3.285 Palestinians were detained in the past three months alone since the beginning of violent unrest in early October.

 

The international community is either silent or numbed by Israeli actions. Resolutions at the level of the UN are one thing but tangible change on-the-ground is what Palestinians seek. They reject Israel’s demand  for an end to the violence calling, instead, for an end to the occupation based on UN resolutions – no less.

 

The spate of BDS actions around the world is some cause to locate hope. BDS activists hope that the threat of isolation may prompt Israel to alter its ways.

 

Going forward to 2016, the international community, particularly churches, civil society, and other faith based movements who seek justice will sustain their pressure to bring change. This needs even further vitalization if Palestinians are to feel the impact of those actions.

 

Mahatma Gandhi once famously said: “When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it—always.”

 

May 2016 take us forward towards peace and justice.

 

In solidarity

 

Ranjan Solomon

Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum

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