"It has become very clear that the occupation government has chosen to focus on targeting Jenin, which represents an ongoing epic and a generalizable model of steadfastness and resistance," maintains Palestinian commentator Hani al-Masri on the independent Palestinian news-portal www.masarat.ps.
This is a new attempt to break its will by isolating and besieging it, especially its legendary camp, manifested in forcing it into total lockdown, prohibiting its labor force from working inside the Green Line, and preventing Palestinians in the interior from visiting Jenin's markets – which are a major source of income given that Ramadan is the high season – as well as mounting successive incursions into different areas, especially the camp.
Over the past few days, the occupation forces have arrested hundreds, threatened to arrest thousands, and shed Palestinian blood. This is confirmed by PM Naftali Bennett's statements, from calling on every gun owner to be armed to setting no restrictions to what they are allowed to do, thereby enacting the law of the jungle and enabling the continuation of the cold-blooded killing of Palestinians. The latest victim was Ghada al-Sbatin, the mother of six who was killed in cold blood while posing no danger.
The above indicates that the occupation forces are mounting a new Operation Defensive Shield, which could be confined to Jenin this time around or could expand if the occupation authorities are unable to break the new wave of armed resistance, accompanied by ongoing popular resistance of various forms and momentum spreading from area to area. But if the original Operation Defensive Shield did not work, why would its derivative? Occupation begets resistance, just as pressure begets explosivity.
Palestinian popular response in support of Jenin did not delay, and it came bearing the slogan 'Jenin, you are not alone'. Protests were staged, and we witnessed dozens of sites of popular clashes with the occupation forces in solidarity with Jenin in the various Palestinian territories. Initiatives were launched in solidarity with Jenin, with young men joining the clashes in various areas, the organization of iftar campaigns, and shopping expeditions in the city.
When will Gaza enter the line of fire?
The resistance factions issued warnings that they would not abandon Jenin and would intervene, as they did during Operation Sword of Jerusalem last year.
There has been heated debate over this issue, focusing on chants raised in the West Bank calling for Gaza to intervene and fire rockets in aid of Jenin and Jerusalem. Some oppose the chants on the grounds that Gaza's role should not amount to firing rockets that trigger a war that will cost dearly.
Others defend the need for the resistance to immediately intervene, arguing that the resistance's weapons, and in particular its rockets, are significant in that they made an entrance last year through the gateway of Jerusalem and al-Aqsa, reinforcing the link between what happens here and there, the cause, the people, and the land are in unity. Only then did the occupation start to take the armed resistance into consideration when deciding its policies and procedures on various issues, including in carrying out its plans in the West Bank and against the prisoners.
The balanced and sound stance, as usual, lies between the two (advocating immediate intervention vs no intervention at all), based on the fact that resistance must follow a strategy, and not be a merely mechanical reflex or seasonal reaction. This is not possible during the split, which has led two conflicting ruling establishments, two opposing strategies, and the absence of a united national institution and a single leadership.
When looking at the Gazan resistance, the above context must be accounted for. Resistance must not be used merely to improve the conditions of living under occupation and blockade in the Gaza Strip, for all its importance. For, if it is restricted to this angle, the resistance will turn into a private enterprise for certain factions and areas, not a unified strategy for liberation and achieving national goals.
Notwithstanding the above, it is neither reasonable nor sufficiently patriotic to disregard the victims of the Gaza Strip and the destruction inflicted on it in a potential military conflict, especially in light of the severe imbalance of power. Moreover, the West Bank contains a vast arena, targets, and endless forms of resistance, and it is especially important not to weaken the popular resistance with its large numbers of participants while participation in the armed resistance is restricted to gunmen.
It is imperative to combine means of resistance, although the main means must be popular resistance that adopts methods of resistance and boycott that are no less important than armed resistance and have proven their effectiveness. It is expected and necessary to mainly rely on this without neglecting other means of resistance, because it is less costly to the Palestinians and most costly to the Israelis, putting pressure on Israel's weak points.
Over and above the foregoing, it is imperative to set red lines that the occupation must not cross, or else necessarily face armed resistance, such as committing massacres, dividing al-Aqsa Mosque's area and hours, annexing areas, or displacing residents. In other words, Gaza's rockets should not be called at every incident or following every development, regardless of its magnitude.
Another point that must be addressed is the PA's suspect role, which raises questions and sparks anger. On the one hand, the president condemns the killing of civilians on both sides, as though there were no difference between victim and executioner, or between organized state terrorism and settler crimes and attacks, and legitimate resistance against occupation. He also calls for peace and to maintain stability, but this stance is not enough. The occupation demands of the PA and its president that various PA officials, Fatah leaders, and the Palestinian media echo the condemnations, and that it stops paying pensions to prisoners and martyrs' families' salaries, going as far as demanding the suspension of the pension of the martyr Ra'ad Fathi Hazem's father.
The High Court of Justice held the PA responsible for the Israeli deaths in the latest wave, and called to pressure it to play a greater role and impose its control over Jenin, Nablus, and all occupied territories, while bearing in mind that it is the occupation's policies and practices above all that constrain the PA. When the Defense Ministry's Civil Administration is revived and takes over more and more of the PA's designated role, this undermines the PA and strips it of its powers.
The occupation forces carry out constant incursions into cities that are supposed to be under the PA's jurisdiction, arresting and assassinating whomever they want, and allowing their members and armed settlers to do whatever they want – from attacking cars, property and trees, to shooting and killing in cold blood. All of this widens the rift between the PA, its leadership and its people. And when the Bennett government treats the PA and president like a security and economic dossier and refuses to hold political negotiations with it and commit to political prospects, it is firing a bullet at what remains of the PA's national legitimacy.
The time has come to break this infernal cycle in which the PA cooperates with the occupation without any reciprocal commitments, in return for the PA's mere survival at any cost and at the expense of everything.
There is still an opportunity to stop this senselessness, and for the PA to choose to stand by its people, especially since Fatah, which controls the PA with its prestige, history and weight, and in particular the al-Aqsa Brigades, which have restored meaning to the term 'fedayeen', is on the side of its people, as it always has been. This does not mean advocating a suicide mission, but rather providing a real opportunity for battle as part of a unified, agreed vision, leadership and strategy that are capable of achieving the resistance's goals. Resistance should not be for resistance's sake or an idol we worship, but rather a means to achieve national goals and interests.
The current wave of resistance is distinguished in that it is focused on targets inside Israel and uses guns, not knives or car-rammings, like the 2015 wave. Moreover, the perpetrators come from the 1967 and 1948 territories and are more cautious. Unlike their predecessors, and as Israeli security circles report, they do not express their intentions through social media or use means of communication that can quickly be monitored. Their actions are independent, but they enjoy popular and even political support. In the eyes of many Palestinians, they are heroes, leaders and examples to emulate who offer the promise of salvation. The current wave has foiled schemes to sideline and circumvent the Palestinian cause, dealt a strong blow to normalization and attempts to turn to Israel to fill the vacuum created by the U.S.'s fading role and presence in the region. It will make any Ukrainian, Russian, or European Jew intending to immigrate to Israel think twice before moving forward, since Israel, a nuclear state with enormous economic and technological progress, appears incapable of providing security in Israeli cities.
Time is blood, and history is merciless to everyone who did not and will not seize the historical moment that indicates that the world and everything in it are changing. A new world will draw new maps, sooner or later, and all the requirements must be met to place Palestine on these maps.
"This requires a comprehensive vision, an effective, inclusive national establishment, a political and combat strategy, and a conscious leadership that possesses the will and prioritizes the unity of the people, forces and institutions in the course of facing urgent challenges and tasks without recklessness, complacency, and without exaggerating or downplaying matters," concludes Masri.