Stabbing, Shooting, Car-Ramming, and Kids – A New Intifada

On April 14 two Palestinians are arrested and searched in Jerusalem. They have 3 knives and a goodbye letter to their parents. They are 12-years-old.

Since September 13, there have been 338 attacks, including 66 attempted attacks by Palestinians. 34 people have been killed and 386 injured. Forty-one of the attackers are 18 or under, the youngest is 11.

The attackers are using knives, guns and cars as weapons. In only two of these attacks has the assailant been a member of a political group. This uprising has developed organically, and represents the frustration and desperation of the Palestinian people, after years of occupation, without leaders able to deliver an independent Palestinian state.

An Independent Intifada

According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Palestinians are frustrated with their purgatory-like political situation, and do not trust that anyone, Palestinian or Israeli, has a solution to their day-to-day problems, says Alan Sears, a writer, activist and sociology professor at Ryerson.

“It is hard for people to imagine how you get to freedom from where you are now.” he says. Sears is a member of the Faculty for Palestine and has written extensively on the conflict.

This spree of violence is just one aspect of a popular uprising that has included marches, protests, civil disobedience and stone throwing.

But it is the violence that has many in Israel fearing for their lives. Though no formal political group has instigated and coordinated this movement, political leaders have publicly heaped praise on attackers. According to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centre, Hamas spokespeople have described stabbing attacks, in which Israeli civilians have been killed, as “heroic actions” and encouraged further attacks on Israelis for “Israeli crimes” against Palestinians.


Attackers and Their Victims

According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Tamar Jaclyn Lyons is vice president of communications for Students Supporting Israel at Ryerson. She says, though it is a complex political situation, the incitement and lack of condemnation for the attacks by the Palestinian leadership is a key factor in the violence.

The attacks began on the eve of the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah, when a group of Palestinians barricaded themselves inside the Al Aqsa Mosque at the Temple Mount. This space has been a flashpoint for the conflict as it is sacred to both Muslims and Jews.

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Western Wall – Photo by Aidan Macnab

An Israeli official then made a statement about possibly reassessing rules about access to the Temple Mount. Much Palestinian rhetoric surrounding the attacks has included the notion of protecting the holy site.

But the almost 50 year occupation of Palestinian lands by Israel also plays a role in why Palestinians are lashing out.

A Brief History

Since the occupation began in 1967, Jewish settlers have been moving in. According to Israeli human rights group B’tselem, as of 2013 there were 547 000 Israeli settlers living in the West Bank. The presence of Israeli settlements is illegal under international law, violating the fourth Geneva Convention and Article 49 of the Hague Regulations.

Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger is one of these settlers.

“Even though they were 98 per cent of the population, they were invisible.” he says of the Palestinians, whom he lived among for decades before her ever met one.

They are visible now. He is now a peace activist, still lives in a West Bank settlement and is a member of the nonviolent movement called Roots.

His Roots colleague Ali Abu Awaad, is a Palestinian refugee from the West Bank. They preach nonviolence and coexistence, but he is not sure what a solution to the conflict will look like.

The Jewish settlements in the West Bank “preclude any real possibility of establishing an independent, viable Palestinian state,” according to B’Tselem.

“I’m not optimistic.” Abu Awaad says.

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