The Intifada’s new stones
Posted by worriedlebanese on 25/10/2006
In the 1980s, stone-throwing children became the symbols of the Intifada. The contrast between their harmless weapons and the sophistication of the Israeli military hardware was striking and played in favour of the Palestinian cause. This made the popular rising appealing to westerners and Public opinions who had been repulsed by the PLO’s radical tactics (hostage taking, hijacking, warfare…).
The complete lack of balance between the two sides forces made the Palestinian uprising seem almost like a non-violence revolt, which it wasn’t. But stones were the only means Palestinian in the Occupied Territories (most of which were born under the occupation) had at the time to fight the Israelis. They had no military training, no contacts with groups abroad that could support them financially, train them and give them military equipment…The Israeli government could have responded to this Intifida differently before things slipped out of hand: it could have entered talks with grassroots movements and representatives of these Palestinian, accorded them civil rights… But the government preferred to follow another road, quite an absurd one if one comes to think of it. Instead of granting these territories some autonomy, they chose to integrate them by starting new settlements situated between Palestinian villages; getting the Israeli population physically closer and closer to the Palestinians. Instead of starting talks with representatives of these territories and of the Intifada, the Israeli chose the PLO as their sole interlocutor. Instead of bringing the stone throwers to administer the affairs of the Palestinians living in what was left of the land grated to the native Arab population of Mandatory Palestine, they chose a radical armed movement who had proven elsewhere its incompetence in handling Palestinian affairs other than through violence and indoctrination. The French call that bringing the wolf into the sheep barn. And this after trying to immunise the Territories of the PLO’s by supporting the Hamas (an Islamist ideology that could oppose a nationalist one). It’s as if the successive Israeli governments were following a recipe intended to spark violence, a new and intense one that could go out of hand.
Today, Palestinian radical groups are throwing rockets across to Israel from Gaza strip on almost daily basis. Actually they are so rudimentary that they hardly qualify as rockets, they are sort of amateurish flying objects who do not cause much harm. These home made rockets are commonly referred to Qassam, a name that makes them sound much more threatening than they really are. I think they have killed one person up to now. But they are probably terrorizing the Israeli Jewish population and making it feel vulnerable. And there are fears that these rockets will soon be replaced by Katyushas (one was launched from Gaza last March) or Ra3ds which have longer rages and are more destructive (they carry a larger charge of explosives, but their technology is Soviet WWII).
By saying that these weapons are rudimentary and not very destructive, I’m not in anyway trying condoning their use and justified them. Nor am I saying that their launching is unimportant and should be discarded. I condemn their use and believe that they do not even help alleviate the plight of the Palestinians or bring it to an end, quite the contrary. Qassam launching should be seen as an escalation, an increase in violence that could go further. These rockets are taking the Palestinians on the wrong path and their launching should be condemned, unconditionally. This condemnation shouldn’t be seen as a justification of the brutal and disproportionate response of the IDF. It should be condemned as well because all it does is bring more misery, radicalism and suffering to the Palestinians.