An ambiguous intifada without Gaza

An ambiguous intifada without Gaza
Blog: As Gazans watch the recent clashes escalating in the West Bank, unified Palestinian resistance remains a challenge.
4 min read
06 Nov, 2015
Gazans protest at Erez crossing as clashes in the West Bank escalate [Anadolu]
Gaza has experienced a mixed reaction to the escalating clashes in the West Bank, although the majority appear to support their compatriots' struggle.

Protests on the Gaza-Israel frontier has led to occasional clashes between protesters and Israeli security forces.

There has been a historical divide between Gaza and the West Bank, both politically and to a lesser extent, culturally. The Gaza Strip is run by Hamas, while the West Bank is governed by the Palestinian Authority, which Fatah dominates.

"Everyone feels like we are staying here not able to do anything, while our brothers and sisters are dying in the West Bank and Jerusalem," said Said Yaqoubi, an activist who works to document the lives of those killed. 

"We blamed them [West Bank residents] during the last war as they didn't stand up with us properly against the Israeli forces and I'm one of those who were writing each day blaming them about this," he said, referring to the 2014 war which killed at least 2,500 Palestinians in Gaza.

     I refuse to call it an intifada because we are practically out of the game

- Said, Gazan activist
Although there were isolated protests and skirmishes in the West Bank, many Gazans were disappointed by the reaction of Palestinians there towards the war.

"We didn't ask them to do anything during the last war, while we were experiencing killing every single moment of time.

"But when they stand up all together against Israel in each city of the West Bank and in Jerusalem while Gaza is out of the game... I felt like I am the one who is betraying them now," said Said. "We can't do anything but watch."

However, as Gaza is still recovering from the war and is attempting to rebuild itself, many feel that now is not the time for the coastal enclave to attempt resistance.

"At the same time, I didn't call for actions," added Said. "We can't do anything. Going to the borders without being able to do anything to those soldiers is nothing but insane.

"I didnt call for rocket firing either. We are not ready for war here in Gaza. I wish we had the ability and the soul to be involved with them, but I see that at least right now we can't, we are tired from the wars and attacks on us."

He concluded that, due to Gaza’s lack of involvement in the clashes in the West Bank, it could not be termed an "intifada" - as it does not involve the entirety of occupied Palestine.

"I refuse to call it an intifada because we are practically out of the game, despite everything that happened on the borders, we did nothing."

Armed Palestinian groups in the West Bank so far appear to be disorganised, with no political faction taking a leadership role.

Some hope that this may lead to a new resistance movement, without being reliant on either Hamas or Fatah.

Yet this disorganisation may also lead to the clashes being easily hijacked by these political parties for their own gains, or as pretext to spearhead new negotitions which may lead to a settlement worse than the Oslo accords - which have been cited as an important factor in the recent escalation.

Additionally, despite repeated calls from Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders in Gaza for action, some feel that the nature of the Palestinian resistance makes it more difficult for organised solidarity.

"There are no arrangements for anything in Gaza," said Assad, a Palestinian reconciliation activist. "Everything happened spontaneously, without arrangements from movements or calls from anyone." 

Gaza's resistance to occupation has obviously differed from the face-to-face clashes in the West Bank.  

Political factions in Gaza are armed and organised, and during the most recent war, responded to Israeli bombardment with rockets, whereas in the West Bank there has been tight control of weapons since the second intifada.

Many young Gazans spoken to be al-Araby said they didn't understand what was taking place in the West Bank, despite supporting their Palestinian brethren.

As the West Bank itself is separated into different areas under control of either the Palestinian Authority, Israel or a combination of both, different cities, from Hebron to East Jeruslem, have their own particular situations. 

"For sure, Gazans support the people in the West Bank, and also they want them to have more effective ways [of resisting] settlers, but most of them don't understand the situation there, specifically the new generation," said Assad.

Gaza's geographic separation with the West Bank has worsened since a blockade was enforced against the Strip after Hamas were elected and the internecine fighting with Fatah that followed in 2007.  

"Hundreds of Gazans are going to the borders with Israel every day," said Assad. "Most Gazans are unconvinced by this, they think its to no avail, but the youth say: no, we will keep going there.

"Gazans feel they are far from the West Bank problems and have been in this situation for ten years," he said.

Ibrahim, a Hamas supporter from Rafah, expressed similar sentiment:

"Our fathers knew the West Bank well - the cities and villages - but the current generation under 25 does not know the West Bank at all, we heard about it just on the news," he said.

"So in our social view we are separated, but when it comes to war and revolution against the occupation we are one - there is no Gaza or West Bank."