As the Fatah-Hamas rift slowly closes amid backlash from Israel’s recent strikes on Gaza, the stirrings of a third Intifada have begun to emerge in Palestine in the wake of the slaying of an unarmed Palestinian youth.
Mel Frykberg , last updated: December 19, 2012
Inter Press Service
A new Palestinian group called the National Union Battalions (NUB), comprising Palestinians from across the political spectrum, has called for a third Palestinian uprising or Intifada. Simultaneously, Israeli intelligence is warning that conditions on the ground in the West Bank are ripe for another Palestinian revolt.
These warnings come as protests and clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian youths broke out across cities and towns in the West Bank over the weekend, sparked by 17-year-old Muhammad Salayma’s untimely death at the hands of an Israeli border guard in Hebron.
A video distributed over the weekend by NUB members from Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) announced the establishment of their organisation as a means of consolidating the struggle against Israel.
“This is the beginning of a third Palestinian Intifada, which is erupting from the heart of Hebron and will spread to all of Palestine,” according to the video.
The members further threatened to kidnap Israeli soldiers if the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) didn’t stop arresting Palestinians, adding that if Israel continued to kill Palestinians with impunity, the group would retaliate in kind.
The Battalions’ demands include removing all IDF checkpoints in the West Bank, the release of all Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, an Israeli withdrawal from all occupied Palestinian land, and the transfer of all tax revenues Israel has been withholding from the Palestinian Authority (PA) since the U.N. voted on upgrading the Palestinians’ status.
The NUB also demands the opening of all border crossings, and the supply of water and electricity to the besieged Gaza Strip.
The group released their statement on Friday, the day following the fatal shooting of Salayma, after Israeli soldiers claimed he had threatened them with a plastic gun. However, when IPS spoke to members of the Salayma family a very different picture emerged.
“I doubt Muhammad had any plastic gun. I believe the Israelis planted that gun near him in the aftermath of the shooting,” the dead youth’s uncle Muhammad Salayma Sr., a policeman with the PA, told IPS.
“It was his birthday and he had gone out to buy a celebratory birthday cake. To get to the shop he had to pass through an Israeli military checkpoint and then pass through it again when returning home. If he had a replica gun on him the x-ray machine would have detected this,” Salayma told IPS.
“He was a happy and intelligent student, and represented Palestine’s wrestling team in France. He was returning home with his birthday cake and we are meant to believe that he suddenly tried to overpower a group of heavily-armed and well trained Israeli soldiers with a plastic gun? He wouldn’t have been that stupid,” Nasim Salayma (22), a cousin of the late Muhammad Salayma, told IPS.
Israeli, Palestinian and international human rights organisations have documented numerous cases over the yearswhere Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli soldiers under highly disputed circumstances.
What is undisputed, however, is the mass anger this latest killing has sparked – hundreds of Palestinian youths took to the streets in Hebron on Thursday to vent their anger against Israeli troops, throwing stones and burning tyres. Dozens were injured in the subsequent clashes, some seriously, by live ammunition, rubber bullets and teargas. The protests then spread to other West Bank towns and cities.
IPS witnessed further clashes in Hebron the following day as a large rally of Hamas supporters marked the 25th anniversary of the organisation’s establishment.
This was the first time in years that the PA has allowed Hamas rallies to take place in the West Bank; it follows recent steps towards rapprochement between Hamas and the PA-affiliated Fatah, Palestine’s two main political factions and, hitherto, staunch enemies.
The baby steps towards unity follow Hamas’ growing political strengthin the wake of the most recent Gaza war, which united Palestinians from all factions. Security forces from both sides have also drastically reduced the number of arrests of opposition members.
As a result, Hamas’ strength in the West Bank is growing. This, coupled with Israel’s forthcoming transfer of a number of Hamas prisoners from Gaza to the West Bank, will further consolidate the Islamist organisation’s presence here.
Also preparing the ground for another uprising against Israel’s occupation is the possible collapse or dissolution of the cash-strapped PA as Israel continues to withhold more than one hundred million Palestinian tax dollars.
The PA is a source of livelihood for several hundred thousand Palestinians and their dependents, leading experts to predict that mass unemployment, which will surely arise from the dissolution of the PA, will make Palestinians more desperate.
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are frozen. Palestinian outrage has been aggravated by the increase in Israeli settler attacks and the continued expropriation of Palestinian land. Furthermore, following growing international recognition, Palestinian dreams of statehood have been emboldened.
Meanwhile, the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence agency, says widespread unrest in the area could foster the development of the kind of infrastructure that could potentially support a third Intifada, according to Israeli media reports.
Mel Frykberg is a contributor to Inter Press Service.
Ahmed Chalabi, the onetime Iraqi exile who aggressively courted neoconservative support for the U.S. invasion of Iraq by spreading falsehoods about Saddam Hussein's weapons programs, long ago fell out of favor in Washington and has never enjoyed much popular support in Iraq, where he currently serves in parliament. But amid Iraq's current political crisis, Chalabi has been floated as a possible compromise candidate to replace Nouri al-Maliki as the prime minister of Iraq—and some of his old neoconservative allies, especially Richard Perle, have expressed joy at the possibility. Concluded a writer for the Washington Post, "It seems a sad indication of the absurdity of the past 11 years of Iraqi history that the man who helped dupe U.S. officials into that invasion should now be backed in his bid for leadership by those very same people."
Reuel Marc Gerecht, a senior fellow at the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies, has advocated bombing Iran for years, once admitting that even his mom thought he’d “gone too far.” He recently wrote that U.S. credibility "is overwhelmingly built on Washington’s willingness to use force" and lamented that the Obama administration's reluctance to intervene in Syria's civil war amounts to "retreat" from the region. Dismissing the supposed moderation of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Gerecht has also advised U.S. policymakers to "forget diplomacy" with Iran and instead bolster sanctions and military threats.
Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and an avid foreign policy hawk in her own right, is slowly returning to the spotlight after her disastrous primary challenge to Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) last year. In addition to penning hawkish screeds against the Obama administration’s policies in Iraq and cofounding a hardline new 501(c)4 group with her father Dick Cheney, Liz Cheney is reportedly seeking to mend ties with the Republican establishment she alienated during her Senate bid, possibly in preparation for another run for office.
Dan Senor, who served as the Bush administration's spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, gained notoriety for his misleading and deeply politicized statements about U.S. "progress" in the disintegrating country. Undeterred, Senor—who is also an investment banker and the cofounder of the neoconservative Foreign Policy Initiative—has re-emerged to urge the Obama administration to send "air power" and "special ops" to Iraq to prop up the beleaguered sectarian government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Newly released documents have revealed that government investigators were aware of serious misconduct by Blackwater employees in Iraq even before the notorious Nisour Square massacre in 2007, during which Blackwater employees killed 17 Iraqi civilians. In a memo to his State Department superiors, one investigator revealed that Blackwater's chief of operations in Iraq—a former Navy SEAL—had threatened to kill him during a meeting to discuss the company's abuses. The U.S. embassy then sent the investigators home after they reported the threat, leading them to conclude—in a memo filed just weeks before the Nisour Square massacre—that "The contractors, instead of [State] Department officials, are in command and in control" at the U.S. embassy in Iraq. The company formerly known as Blackwater and Xe Services rebranded itself as Academi in 2011.
For media inquiries,
or call 202-234-9382.
June, 30 2014
As it did in Vietnam, the United States has strenuously sought to blame others for the mess it created by invading Iraq.
June, 28 2014
While many realists in Washington support U.S. cooperation with Iran and even Syria to roll back gains made by ISIS in Iraq, neoconservatives and Washington's Gulf allies are rallying against any normalization of U.S. relations with Iran.
June, 26 2014
While opposition to the U.S. Export-Import bank, which financially incentivizes the purchase of U.S. exports, previously came from the left, the House Tea Party faction has launched a revolt against the bank and its backers in the business community and the GOP establishment.
June, 21 2014
Despite their ubiquity on television talk shows and newspaper op-ed pages, the hawks who propelled the U.S. into war in Iraq 11 years ago appear to be falling short in their efforts to persuade the public and Congress that Washington needs to return.
June, 17 2014
Some European supporters of the exiled Iranian opposition group MEK have played down the role of ISIS in Iraq, painting the violence plaguing the country as a popular revolution against an Iranian-backed autocrat.
June, 14 2014
Although Iraq’s Sunnis have a multitude of legitimate grievances against Shia Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, much of the country’s current unrest is a result of preexisting social fractures, Western meddling, and predatory behavior by the country’s largely Sunni neighbors.
June, 13 2014
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has reportedly disclosed a plan to international negotiators to prevent Iran from obtaining “breakout” nuclear weapons capability while still retaining its right to enrich uranium.