Decades-Long Israeli Military Occupation Drives Palestinian Revenge Attacks
Filmmaker and former TRNN Correspondent Lia Tarachansky says the messianic extreme far-right has filled the political void in Israel following the 2014 attacks on Gaza known as Operation Protective Edge
SHARMINI PERIES, TRNN: It’s the Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore.
A deadly attack took place in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, when two Palestinians killed four Israelis and injured 17 others in Sarona Market. The incident prompted Israel to deploy hundreds of additional troops in the occupied West Bank. They have also imposed travel restrictions on 83,000 Palestinians during the month of Ramadan. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said this amounts to a collective punishment and will only increase the sense of injustice felt by Palestinians. The attack comes as the extreme right in Israel is gaining momentum. Recently, Avigdor Lieberman, known for his hawkish tendencies, was appointed as defense minister. After the attacks, he issued an order not to return the bodies of the Palestinians that were killed to their families, saying it will deter other potential attackers.
Joining us to discuss this is Lia Tarachansky. Lia is joining us today from Haifa, but usually she’s in Jerusalem making another film. She’s the former Israel-Palestine correspondent for the Real News Network. Thank you so much for joining us again, Lia.
LIA TARACHANSKY: Thanks for having me, Sharmini.
PERIES: So, Lia, you have recently returned to Israel, and you’ve observed some changes. What is the climate like there now?
TARACHANSKY: So, what I would say is that if you were to understand the meaning of this attack what you have to is look at it within two kinds of contexts. The first one starts in June, 2014, and the second goes back about a century.
If we start with the first one, in June, 2014, when three teenagers were kidnapped in the West Bank. Israel launched a massive bombardment of revenge on the Gaza Strip, killing hundreds of civilians. This was the third kind of bombardment in less than a decade. And yet this last one has left behind ripples of total hopelessness and a real sense of impending doom in a lot of the population. What we’ve seen is a huge spike in the percentage of liberals leaving the country, and increase in immigration of extreme right-wing people.
And what happened in terms of the politics of the region is that that last bombardment essentially made it very clear that there was a political void into which the usual ongoing negotiations of the so-called peace process usually step in, but those were absent. And so what walked into the political void since September, 2014 has been the messianic, extreme far-right. And what they’ve done essentially last summer, in summer 2015, is instigate what became known as the Third Intifada, when they essentially escalated the number of provocative invasions of religious, messianic Jews into the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, which is known all around the world as a beautiful, golden [coupelle] that stands right in the heart of Jerusalem.
Over that particular piece of real estate there is now an incredible, an extreme war going on. And the most significant element in that war, which is seen by many Palestinians as an incursion by Israel on the last remaining site of sovereignty in Palestine, because of course the Al-Aqsa compound is officially under the jurisdiction of the Jordanian kingdom and is administered by Palestinians, and because Israel has essentially given the keys to this one place back to the Jordanians when it occupied the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories in ‘67, having religious settlers and zealots essentially invade this place because they see it as their god’s work is seen by Palestinians as enormous provocation. And this recent attack that happened yesterday was just the latest in a wave of, essentially, hopelessness and despair that has swept our country’s, the space between the river and the sea, since September of 2015.
Unfortunately, what I think is really missing in the way that this attack is covered is that it’s one recent attack on Israel, but there are ongoing terror attacks and Israeli state violence that leads to the death of more than 200 Palestinians in the same period, and is completely ignored by the media.
And when I say the second context in which you have to understand this attack is about a century, you have to understand that there have been every kind of political organization you can imagine. Both peoples, the Israelis and Palestinians, have been living in essentially a divided land, a deeply [disparate] land, controlled today by one sovereign, the state of Israel, which keeps about half of the population, the Palestinians, under military occupation. So inevitably, that leads to frustration and rage. And because on the Palestinian side the 2014 has also left a sort of political vacuum, a lot of individuals have felt betrayed by their leadership, feel betrayed by Israel, and express their frustration like this, like the attack in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, like the attacks that we’ve seen all over Jerusalem, when teenagers have been stabbing local residents and police officers, and so on.
PERIES: Now, Lia, it’s been a few years since the attack on Palestinians that killed thousands of them. How are the people responding to what happened then two years later?
TARACHANSKY: Well, that goes well with what I was saying about hopelessness. If you look at the Gaza Strip, very few homes have been rebuilt. Israel still controls the Strip from the land, the water, and the air, and so very few materials are getting in, and there’s a total sense of despair. We’ve seen that, also, on the Israeli side. We’re now in an economic crisis like we haven’t been in a very long time. So the effects of that war are definitely felt today.
But the cyclicity of Israeli attacks and Israeli incursions has actually increased. And so while the war on Gaza was in 2014, as I said, in the summer of 2015 we’ve seen now this invasion, in a way, of religious forces into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which has led to an uprising all over Palestinian society, inside of Israel, and also in the territories. And the most significant thing that happened, in that sense, was about a week ago the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, fired the minister of defense. And in his place a new member of parliament entered the Knesset. His name is Yehuda Glick, and he is a man who actually believes in the demolition of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the creation of the third temple in its place, the third Jewish temple, the last of which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.
And he is leading behind him a movement that only a decade ago was comprised of, essentially, extremists and far-right fanatics who believe in a biblical land with a king ruling over half of the Levant, and don’t even see themselves as Israeli citizens but as citizens inside of a biblical state. That movement has now become so mainstream that just in the last year, more than 15,000 Jews, Israeli Jews, have ascended onto the Temple Mount complex, a move that is seen by Palestinians as incredibly offensive and as another expression of the Israeli occupation.
And what you’ve seen Israel do since the attack, when the Minister of Defense, the new Minister of Defense, revoking the permits that were given for Ramadan to tens of thousands of Palestinians, you know, today the checkpoints have been closed and then opened, these are just what has become the new norm, and yet another expression, and yet another expression, and yet another expression of total Israeli repressive control over the Palestinians.
And Israel claims that it’s for security, but we’ve seen with this attack that you can put every single soldier you have on the streets, you can close every single building that the public walks into with metal detectors and private security guards, and you’re still going to have people being killed, because until the Palestinian people are no longer under the military occupation of Israel they’re never going to stop resisting. And I think that this is what this attack has shown, is that while most of the political and militant leadership of the Palestinians has been assassinated in the last century, or is imprisoned, even though there isn’t a way for Palestinians to actually unite because they’re divided in bantustans all over the West Bank, in Gaza, and all over Israel, even though they are separated by a complex matrix of control of IDs and live under extreme discrimination inside of Israel, they will still continue to resist until they have freedom.
And until we reach a resolution with the Palestinians that leads to equal rights for everyone who lives from the river to the sea, these kinds of attacks are not likely to stop.
PERIES: Lia, under very sad circumstances and ongoing sad circumstances, I thank you so much for joining us, and all the best with your film.
TARACHANSKY: Thank you.
PERIES: And thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.
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