Stop the Wall Campaign strongly condemns the massive military onslaught by Israeli Occupation Forces.
Over the past two weeks, more than 500 Palestinians have been arrested; six have been shot dead by Israeli forces; air strikes have bombarded Gaza; our homes, cities and refugee camps have been invaded every night; and our freedom of movement has been taken hostage by a lockdown of the entire West Bank imposed through checkpoints and the deployment of surveillance drones overhead.
The term ‘collective punishment’ has been used to describe these arbitrary acts of harassment. However, this does not accurately explain the current situation. The aims of this military offensive bare no relevance to the disappearance of the three settlers – that is only a timely smoke screen. The entire repressive operation is part of the ‘unilateral redeployment’ plan proposed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the end of April following the failure of the ‘Kerry Initiative.’
This ‘redeployment’ plan amounts to nothing more but the implementation and creation of Palestinians Bantustans in the West Bank, delimited by the Wall and its associated regime – the settlements and military zones – which together annex some 60 percent of the West Bank. It is not by chance that ten different bills to annex settlement blocks have been submitted in the Knesset this May, and calls to immediately annex the Gush Etzion block are growing. Meanwhile, settlement construction is continuing relentlessly.
In order for such an inhumane process as the ghettoization of an entire people to be able to move ahead, any form of organized popular resistance and mobilizations must be suppressed at any cost. This includes attacks on grassroots activists and political organizations. As a way to undermine the newly formed national unity government, Israel is intent on destroying Hamas within the West Bank through arrests and repression.
At the same time, the military offensive aims at ending Palestinian resistance even inside the prisons. Among more than 500 arrested are Palestinians of all ages, Palestinians with or without political affiliations, including those that were released as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap in 2011 or due to their heroic hunger strikes. In an attempt to destroy the morale of the prisoners who were on hunger strike, administrative detention orders were issued to a large proportion of those recently arrested. Not only has attention been diverted away from the longest collective hunger strike in Palestinian history, but the intended message being sent by Israel is that struggles inside the prisons or to win the release of prisoners are in vain.
Amidst the repression, the Palestinian Authority continues its security coordination with Israel, illustrating complete inaction in securing the safety of its citizens.
However, the reaction of Palestinians is already proving that Israel’s intentions will not succeed. Spontaneous popular resistance in response to the continual home invasions, in particular by the youth in defense of the 19 refugee camps across the West Bank, is growing. Such resilience serves as a reminder of who is leading the struggle on the ground, including in the villages and cities, and is bringing the youth and the refugees to the forefront of the national movement. It is another message that nothing can break the urge for a life with dignity and freedom for the Palestinian people.
What is needed now more than ever is international solidarity. The current operation is serving as a testing ground of the Palestinian capacity to respond to the repression and at the same time of the willingness of the international community to continue to stay idle.
We deeply appreciate the global actions that give hope and inspiration in these difficult days. We thank the Presbyterian Church which chose last week to divest from the very companies supporting the Israeli military and occupation. We thank all those that are mobilizing and denouncing the Israeli policies of occupation, colonialism and apartheid. Please, speak out now!
We reiterate our call to all organizations, groups, and activists around the world to work together with us to put an end to Israeli impunity. Now, more than ever, it is crucial to ensure that July will be a month for Justice in Palestine. We therefore ask you to join the Month of Action Against the Wall in July. Stop Israeli Impunity.