Just this week, elite fighter pilots of the Israeli Air Force’s 69th squadron refused to attend training.
This is one of many acts of resistance against the new Israeli government, which is the most right-wing and nationalist in Israeli history. This new government is run by Benjamin Netanyahu, who won the election for Prime Minister in November. Netanyahu’s coalition is known for, among other things, anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab racism.
For weeks, protests have erupted against the Israeli government, most notably the government’s call to change the judicial system. These changes will limit the power of the Supreme Court and strengthen the power of Netanyahu and the Israeli Knesset (parliament) to overrule the judicial system. Conveniently, it will also immunize “Bibi” against multiple corruption charges.
Pandering to the most avowedly misogynist and openly racist Knesset members in order to assemble his ruling coalition, Netanyahu has set the stage for a hard right slide into autocracy, including stripping many of their human rights. Jaffa teacher Yaara Ben Geraluf noted, “This government will not be any good for women, for LGBTQ, for the impoverished people…and of course for Palestinians.”
Since the beginning of the year, Israeli forces and Israeli settlers have killed more than 70 Palestinians, and enraged Palestinians have killed 11 Israelis. Just this past Tuesday, Israeli forces killed six Palestinians and injured 11 during a raid of a camp in Jenin, West Bank. Netanyahu claimed that one of the six people killed was responsible for killing two Israelis last month. This sparked more settler violence in the West Bank.
On February 23rd, the Israeli government approved more than 7000 new settlement homes in the West Bank. Settlement in Palestine is one of the largest problems the Palestinians face. Since 1967, when Israel occupied the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Amnesty International reports that some 600,000 settlers have seized more than a quarter-million acres of Palestinian land and demolished more than 50,000 Palestinian homes.
Palestinians are forced out of their homes and stripped of their land, their olive orchards, and communities when Israeli settlers take over. Friction and violence between settlers and Palestinians are thus a daily occurrence. Israeli forces patrol the settler communities, “protecting the settlers.” Hundreds are killed, and thousands are injured yearly due to the settler violence.
With settlement in the West Bank, Israeli strips Palestine of its ability to build a strong economy. Natural resources, such as water and agricultural production in the West Bank are controlled by Israel. This restricts Palestinians from accessing these resources.
Settlement also prevents Palestinian freedom of movement as nearly five million Palestinians are forced to go through checkpoints and roadblocks just to move around, often even from a family farmhouse to their own farms, frequently taking literally hours to cross the checkpoint. Continued settlement not only adds to the tension in the region but directly undermines the possibility of a two-state solution.
Violence between the Israelis and Palestinians has gotten significantly worse over the past year. Each side blames the other for the conflict and its protracted nature. For many Palestinians, the expansion of settlement is seen as the root cause of the conflict, and the reason for violence in the West Bank.
As one political analyst noted,” The Palestinians will continue to resist with whatever they have in order to protect their lives and their property.”
While privileged people living in peace cannot judge Palestinians for their resistance methods, scholars in the field of civil resistance put the Palestinian chances for justice higher with nonviolent methods, especially if the US citizens could demand that US aid to Israel be tightly conditioned to Israeli observance of human rights for all.
Haley Morrow is a conflict resolution masters candidate at Portland State University and PeaceVoice Associate Editor.