22-year-old university student in Ramallah, West Bank
I think there is a massive discrepancy between the ongoing debate abroad about whether this is a third intifada or not and the reality on the ground where this debate seems meaningless. Beyond the labels, Palestinian youth are expressing their disgruntlement with Israeli aggression and the failure of Palestinian leadership to provide a tangible solution for the Palestinian people.
A large portion of the youth on the ground are between the ages of 13 and 27. This is important to note because this is the Oslo generation. This is the generation that didn’t know a reality beyond the apartheid wall or the suppressive tactics of the Palestinian Authority. What we are witnessing is not merely random acts of violence, this frustration has been festering within the Palestinian people for years now, we are slowly imploding. Small acts of protests across the West Bank, rockets from Gaza, confrontations in historic Palestine, all of them come arm in arm. We cannot decontextualize the current situation from the past. Every reaction was preceded by an action, whether it is Israeli aggression escalating, or suppression from the Palestinian Authority. This is not only confrontations towards Israeli aggression, but a message to the Palestinian Authority that uproar will come about if they continue to normalize with the occupation, appeasing Israel through security coordination while simultaneously pretending to speak on behalf of the Palestinians.
This is a crucial time where the youth are bringing matters into their own account. The voices that have been absent from Palestinian-Israeli politics are erupting through the sound of chants, stones, stabbings and whatever other methods are available. There is no telling where the end game is, but I don’t think that’s very important right now. The situation may very well die out with the help of Israel’s proxy the Palestinian Authority; or alternatively it may continue to escalate until we form a leadership from the ground which can begin talking demands. However, the clear message is that for every action there is a reaction, and this is the reaction of the Palestinian youth to failed negotiations and continued Israeli aggression.
As confrontations continue from Palestinian youth, Israeli forces will respond in the only way they know how to respond and that is through violence. It is embedded within their colonial fabric to oppress and disavow any Palestinian resistance. It is an institutionalized tactic and not a reaction to Palestinian confrontation. Settler’s lives are being disrupted by Palestinians, they are no longer feeling comfortable in their colonization and that can result in one of two things, they will either escalate their violence towards Palestinians (as we are currently witnessing), or they will begin to realize there is no benefit from their colonization whether economic or social and it may force them to have feelings of wanting to leave their settlements. The difference between the Palestinian youth and Israeli settlers, is that Palestinian youth do not have any back support, they only have one another. Settlers on the other hand, have the support of the Israeli army and of course the Israeli judicial system, which will not charge or convict them as they continue to perpetuate violence towards Palestinians.
As in for the Palestinian Authority forces, they will not act without commands from the Palestinian Authority leadership. They are currently allowing Palestinian youth to continue in their confrontations with Israeli forces not out of genuine support of the Palestinian people, but because they are well aware with the anger in the streets it can turn towards them. Furthermore, I say “allow” the youth, because the Palestinian Authority still possesses the power to tranquilize the wrath of youth on the streets. The silence from the Palestinian Authority can very well be a method to let the youth exhaust themselves in the streets before trying to pacify the masses as they normally do. What is frightful however is the possibility for the Palestinian Authority to use the spirit of the youth on the ground as a bargaining chip with Israel in order to reinforce its legitimacy in the West Bank as the sole authority able to achieve calm and control the Palestinian masses, and force Israel to return to the negotiations table.