row is brewing between Israel and the Palestinian Resistance Movement, Hamas,
over the release of Avraham Mengitsu, an Israeli citizen who, according to
Israeli military sources, 'slipped into Gaza' on September 7, 2014.
circumstances of Mengitsu's entry into Gaza remain unclear, especially since
Hamas' political leader, Khaled
Mashaal, denied that the military wing of Hamas is holding the Israeli
to Israel's Defense Ministry, another Israeli is also being held in Gaza.
A gag order on Mengitsu's disappearance was just lifted, but another remains
in effect regarding the other, allegedly, detained Israeli.
negotiations for their release are yet to begin, according to Israeli officials.
For Hamas, who, according to Mashaal, has been approached by Israel via European
interlocutors, no discussion will be possible until Israel releases 71
Palestinians. This is the number of Palestinians who were re-arrested soon after
they were released in 2011 following a prisoner exchange between Hamas and
Israel. At the time, a prisoner swap secured the release of 1,027 Palestinians
(477 reportedly affiliated with Hamas) and Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier who
was captured and held by Hamas fighters for five years.
prospect of negotiations will allow Hamas to raise the issue of Israel's
violation of the last prisoner exchange agreement. By re-arresting freed
prisoners, future agreements with Israel would appear frivolous and seem like a
temporary measure to secure Israel's immediate interests, without full and
unconditional commitment regarding the freedom of newly released Palestinian
the occupying power with unhindered access to occupied Palestinian territories
in Jerusalem and the West Bank, Israel can apprehend any Palestinian they accuse
of 'terrorism', without much proof or serious due process. The Israeli
efforts at choking any form of Resistance, armed or otherwise, is often
supported by the Palestinian Authority, whose security goons are fully trained
and equipped to crush any dissent in the West Bank. A recent
foray of arrests, targeting mainly Hamas supporters and other dissenting
voices, is the latest proof.
cynics questioned the prisoner exchange in 2011. Some asked, "What is the
value of securing the release of hundreds of prisoners if they can be
re-arrested by Israel at whim?"
continue to face the same dilemma of every national liberation movement in
modern times. Native Americans, too, haggled with the same dilemma as they faced
genocide and annihilation.
well-intentioned intellectual recently advised me that Palestinians should lay
down their arms, dismantle their institutions and allow Israel to take over
Gaza, which would, in turn, establish that Israel abides by the rules that
govern occupied territories.
Israel ever heeded the calls
of the Fourth Geneva Convention or any other international laws concerned
with the rights of an occupied nation? Israel is in violation of more UN General
Assembly and Security Council Resolutions than any other nation on earth, and
caring about the affairs of occupied civilians has hardly ever been an Israeli
war on Gaza a year ago has wrought more devastation than any other war in the
past. A recently
published UN report, while it indicted Israel, also indicted Palestinians
for targeting civilians. Although it was expected that the report would reject
random firing of homemade rockets in civilian areas, the narrative,
as a whole, put on a par Israel, a
powerful aggressor and an occupier, with Palestinians, who are in a perpetual
state of self-defense.
from the UN report, coupled with a few other reports, as well as the Palestinian
Authority's bashful attempts to seek International Court of Justice (ICC)
involvement to investigate Israeli war crimes, little has changed in Gaza. The
suffering abounds, insufficient aid trickles in which merely keeps people alive,
little reconstruction has taken place, electricity blackouts are long and
frequent, and the siege remains in place, more dire than ever. Moreover, the UN
Aid Agency, UNRWA, dedicated to the welfare of the Palestinians, is $101
million in debt, with very little donor cash funding to rescue it.
fleeting thought that 'the world won't not stand idle following Israel's
51-day war on Gaza' (so-called 'Operation Protective Edge'), was just
that: a fleeting thought, similar to the wishful thinking that following the
so-called 'Operation Cast Lead' in 2008-09. The death toll among
Palestinians in both wars was nearly 4,000, mostly civilians, a huge proportion
of them being children. But the suffering, of course, extends beyond the 4,000
and their bereaved families, as tens of thousands were wounded or maimed, the
Strip's impoverished infrastructure being destroyed and the collective trauma
justification that its action is propelled by the need to protect civilians in
border areas is flimsy at best, since the 69 or 73 Israelis killed during the
last war were soldiers, who were killed while on a mission to invade the
it true that, if Palestinians did not resist, Israel would not have employed so
much firepower? And, perhaps, would have been kinder in its treatment of
resistance is kept at a minimum in the West Bank and Jerusalem, with much of the
Israeli Army stationed there and where illegal, fortified Jewish settlements are
in constant expansion. Even stone-throwers or unarmed demonstrators are
and wounded by the Army and Jewish settlers. And while the Palestinian
Authority is playing a crucial part in controlling the population, Israel
is amassing wealth from its occupation. Not only is Israel's occupation of
the West Bank the least costly of all illegal occupations in modern times, it is
also the most profitable.
Gaza not to resist is an invitation for Israel to complete its humiliation of
the Palestinian people, to utilize the Strip for financial gains (for example,
natural gas near the coast and racially segregated beach resorts, etc.), and to
turn its men, women and children into cheap labor, trying to eke out a living in
order to secure mere survival. Indeed, that was the case for many years,
starting in 1967 till Israel's so-called disengagement in 2005.
failure of the international community to act following the last round of
massacres in Gaza means that Palestinians there are on their own, at least for
now. Their Arab brethren are either consumed with their own misfortunes, or are
openly conspiring against the tiny, resolute Strip.
if the math of Resistance does not add up - whether in unguaranteed prisoners
swaps, or terrifying death tolls - Palestinians in Gaza will continue to
resist. Their 'fiddayeen' (freedom fighters) have done so, dawning in 1948
with the current generation standing vigilant by the border in 2015.
not a matter of strategy, but an act governed by a simple logic that they live
by: either a life with dignity or death with honor.
Ramzy Baroud is a PhD scholar in People's History at the University of Exeter. He is the Managing Editor of Middle East Eye. Baroud is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author and the founder of
PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is
My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).