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From Unilateral- to Bilateral war - or: How the Palestinians Fight to Prevent Being Expelled From the Country
Amos Gvirtz
Oct. 20, 2105
Instead of the weekly `Don`t say we did not know`
amosg@shefayim.org.il


Every week I distribute accounts of what to me seems Israelís unilateral warfare against Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and in the Negev. It is not a fight for our security. It is a war for territorial expansion. Now that the war has become bilateral, I write the following:

Israelis and Palestinians differ significantly in their understanding of the concept of war. For Israelis war is a violent clash between two parties, whereas the Palestinians understand war in a far broader sense. The extensive land-grab that Israel has been carrying out in the West Bank is perceived by Israelis as a legal bureaucratic action, whereas Palestinians see this as a unilateral act of war on the part of an occupying force against defenseless civilians.

House demolition is seen by Israelis as an act of law enforcement. The Palestinians understand it as a unilateral act of war on the part of an occupying force against defenseless civilians. So, too, are regarded the destruction of water holes and reservoirs, sheep and goat pens, storehouses and other structures.
The building of Jewish settlements in the West Bank is regarded by Israelis as a pioneering-settlement project that fulfills our claim to the land, whereas Palestinians see it as a unilateral act of war on the part of an occupying force against a defenseless civilian population.
It is estimated that Israel uses about 80% of West Bank water for its own needs. Again, this is regarded by Palestinians as a unilateral act of war by an occupying force against a defenseless civilian population. Thus, too, the mining of ores that Israel carries out in the West Bank.
Acts of expulsion that the Israeli army carries out in Area C against the most weakened Palestinian populations, claiming that their lands are firing zones, or nature reserves, or archeological sites, is naturally seen by the Palestinians as acts of unilateral war carried out by an occupying force against a defenseless civilian population.
Incidentally, none of the military acts listed above regard the security of Israeli citizens Ė they are all performed for the sake of Israelís territorial expansion. The power differences between the two sides are so enormous that most of the time these acts are faced with Palestinian passivity. They have, after all, no military forces of their own to prevent Israel from acting against them. We Israelis seem to think that our army manages to keep things quiet and that this situation can persist. The problem is that such activity on our part has a cumulative effect upon the Palestinians. During a quiet period some individual might take up revenge for what the Israeli army has done to him and his family. At such times as the present, accumulated rage simply erupts.
The accumulated Jewish settlement activity in Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, along with escalation of the Temple Mount Jewish zealots visitsí were the catalyst for the present eruption. I donít know how long it will last and how it will be defined. Clearly, the monumental differences in power between the two sides will be decisive, and again the Palestinians will be forced to lower their heads and suffer their continued oppression until the next eruption.
There are numerous debates amongst Palestinians over the best way for them to resist this expulsion process. Over the years we have, indeed, seen that every time they resorted to some kind of resistance (mostly terrorism), the Israeli army has found the way to quench it. I suppose that this time, too, it will find its way to suppress activity by the ďindividual terroristĒ.

Against the background of their failures in confronting Israelis here, the Palestinians began to shift their arena abroad. Abu Mazen appeals to the international community in order to gain his people protection from the Israelis. This he might achieve only when he manage to prevent a Palestinian armed struggle. Thus, too, Palestinian civil society organizations who turn to the world at large in their request to boycott Israel until it cease its occupation and recognize their rights.
Israelís leaders understand that this is the Palestiniansí most effective weapon in their struggle, so they invest increasingly in thwarting it. Thus, the most moderate leader that Palestinians have had is portrayed by the Israelis as the most dangerous, whilst in fact for us Israeli citizens he is the best leader Ė for he is after all the most effective fighter against Palestinian violence that is turned against us.

This raises the question that every Israeli citizen should ask: what is important to Israelís leaders, is it our security or Israelís territorial expansion project?!


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