الرئيسية » هاني المصري »   09 حزيران 2022

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A DEFEAT
هاني المصري

"If last year's Jerusalem uprising and Operation Sword of Jerusalem was a victory for the Palestinians, embodying their unity and their willingness to engage in all forms of resistance across all Palestinian communities in defense of their cause, rights, Jerusalem, and al-Aqsa, what happened last Sunday was a defeat, especially in light of the Flag March's success," contends Palestinian commentator Hani al-Masri on the independent Palestinian news-portal www.masarat.ps.

Tens of thousands of hardline settlers took part, some of them even performing 'epic prostration' rituals in the al-Aqsa courtyards for the first time. They assaulted our people and our property in several areas of Jerusalem, cursing the Arabs and the Prophet, calling for their death, and threatening to commit a new Nakba against them. However, this does not embody a 'unified Jerusalem' as they claim – in fact, it appears more divided than ever before – nor does it afford the occupation any right or entail obligation on its part.

Last May's victory was not complete or decisive or the end of the line, nor was this May's defeat a fatal blow. Rather, they were two rounds of a conflict that has lasted over a hundred years and is likely to continue for many more years if the current circumstances of the Palestinians, Arabs and their friends and supporters across the world do not change, although there are harbingers and omens that change is coming.

The Palestinians' victory last May was not decisive, nor did it bring about a comprehensive change in the rules of engagement. Therefore, it is imperative to build upon it on a national, non-factional, basis, while bearing in mind that it was especially costly to our people in the Gaza Strip. The colonialist settlers' victory at the Flag March was not decisive either. The evidence is that Jerusalem stood steadfast and stalwart against their parade, raising the Palestinian flag high like never before in the face of the Israeli flag, in addition to defending Jerusalem, lives, and property and organizing counter-rallies. This was despite the presence of thousands of police officers and special units forces, the mobilization of the Iron Domes, and airplanes circling constantly in anticipation of the resistance in Gaza taking part.

In that vein, the resistance did well not to intervene. This decision was not the result of a deal or primarily due to Arab and regional pressures, but because, had the resistance done so and launched rockets, it would have fallen into Israel's trap. Israel was united behind the Flag March and was ready to mount a terrible military onslaught on the Gaza Strip, with the goal of repeating its policy of 'mowing the grass' and teaching the resistance a lesson that it will not forget. Its goals also include practicing electoral propaganda that improves the government coalition's chances in the upcoming elections, reinforcing the occupation's hegemony (and not sovereignty) over Jerusalem and in particular al-Aqsa, and restoring the prestige of deterrence, which has weathered a difficult test in Operation Sword of Jerusalem and in the series of military operations and popular confrontations that Palestine had witnessed between last May and this May especially.

A significant factor in turning the Flag March into a defeat for us and an unforgivable crime on their part was the resistance overplaying its hand, stipulating conditions and red lines, and making promises it could not fulfill. It portrayed itself as a superpower and issued statements and media campaigns, especially with the TV program 'The Hidden is More Immense'. As a result, the masses were awaiting the fulfillment of promises to fire rockets in greater numbers and with greater precision than before, and there was the expectation that the resistance axis would not remain idle and a regional war would erupt. This contributed to the number of vanguards stationed at al-Aqsa and protesters in Jerusalem falling short of what the challenges and dangers required, because when rockets speak, other forms of struggle fall silent, or their importance and role diminish.

The resistance erred when it exaggerated its strength and underestimated the power of its enemy, and when it vowed to make the earth shake if resistance leaders were assassinated, whereas it did not do the same when the occupation carried out the most dangerous and broadest incursion into al-Aqsa since 1967.

The resistance must be aware of what is being planned for it. There are preparations underway to mount a military aggression against it intended to inflict a powerful, if not fatal, blow to it. This will open the door to Arab and international interventions that change the status quo in the Gaza Strip, whereby a long-term tahdi'a [lull or calming down] is imposed on it with or without the return of the PA to the Gaza Strip pursuant to the Oslo Accords.

Some will respond to the foregoing by saying that the resistance is strong, and that its earth-shattering response will come at the time it determines, and not at the time that suits its enemy. Very well, but this does not present the whole picture. It becomes complete when we add that the struggle should not primarily take the form of military engagement. For all the importance of maintaining armed resistance, using it against military targets at times in which it is feasible, it should be as part of a unified strategy. It should not rely primarily on rockets, which have proven their importance and feasibility, but as a means of self-defense and of preventing the reoccupation of the Strip. They should be used on exceptional occasions, such as the annexation of new territories to Israel, the division of the area and hours of al-Aqsa as a prelude to its demolition, and in response to a major bloodbath. This is for the simple but crucial reason that the military balance of power is still skewed in the occupation's favor, and Arab, regional and international conditions are not suitable for resistance to take the form of military engagement. It is far more appropriate for it to take the form of popular resistance, boycott in all forms, and prosecution of the occupation at all international levels and forums doing the heavy lifting, backed by armed resistance in emergency situations.

As proof of this, we will point out that the death toll suffered by the Palestinian people since 2006 is over 7,000, while the occupation has suffered less than 300 casualties during the same period, which is far lower than the average death toll for both sides since the beginning of the conflict. Over 100,000 Palestinian martyrs have fallen compared to about 25,000 Israeli deaths, and if we go back to the 1948 war, we will find that over 15,000 martyrs fell in contrast to 6,373 Israeli deaths, while in the second intifada, over 4,000 Palestinians died compared to over 1,000 Israelis.

Here a question arises: How will we achieve a network between Gaza, Jerusalem, our people in the Israeli interior, and refugee and diaspora hubs if Gaza's rockets do not come to the aid of Jerusalem, al-Aqsa, Jenin and Nablus?

The answer is simple: By forging unity in a manner that can only be achieved in one way, through a united national project, integrated political programs, and a unified, inclusive national establishment with a single leadership based on common goals and factors, in spite of prevailing differences and disparities. These will endure as a reflection of the Palestinian pluralism that counts as a key source of the Palestinian cause's vitality, resilience, and survival despite all the conspiracies, wars, massacres and calamities that the Palestinian people have been subjected to.

Unity must not wait for leaderships to unite through dialogue that falls on deaf ears and agreements that are never implemented, but must occur through unity on the ground in all areas, levels and issues, from the bottom to the top, and through the formation of a broad national front that is open to every Palestinian and every faction that believes in national goals and the struggle to achieve them – in other words, national unity on the basis of genuine partnership, consensual democracy, and recourse to the people and the legitimate elected institutions.

Based on the foregoing, the resistance should take into consideration that unity is a priority and the victory principle for a people who live under the conditions that the Palestinians endure today. Therefore, the resistance must not forget unity and tolerate the split, nor should it pour all its attention into how to mount a military response to the march of flags and al-Aqsa Mosque's desecration. Rather, the true retaliation is in restoring unity, not by handing the Gaza Strip to the Oslo-based PA, whose bar is even lower than stipulated by the Oslo Accords. Rather, it is by formulating a national vision and project that give rise to joint strategies befitting the circumstances and particulars of all Palestinian communities, without engaging in misadventures, torpedoing phases, wishful thinking, and attachment to fantasies and prophecies about Israel's demise this year or at the 80-year mark without providing the factors to ensure its demise. The latter can happen, but in installments and phases through the accumulation of realities and victories, and without betrayal, surrender, and accepting to coexist and deal with what the occupation proposes.

The Oslo-based PA is pleased with the lack of rocket fire last Sunday because this reinforces its choice, albeit temporarily, and weakens the resistance. But it will not rejoice for long.

"The path to victory lies in ongoing, comprehensive resistance and unity on the basis of a national project that determines what is achievable at each phase without losing sight of the ultimate goal, and on the basis that the resistance equation sows while politics and negotiations reap," concludes Masri.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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