The uprising of the Second Intifada in 2000 marked a milestone in the formation of a new type of struggle in Israel and Palestine. The failure of the Oslo Accords resulted in the entrenchment of nationalism across Israel and a political shift to the right, including within the so-called “Peace Camp.” This left a void in the Israeli left-wing within which a new radical left began to grow. At the same time, widespread popular struggle and resistance erupted across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
In 2003, a year after Israel began the construction of the Seperation Wall, a four-month long protest camp was formed by Palestinians, joined by Israeli and international activists, in the village of Mas’ha, whose lands were being lost to the Wall. This camp became a focal point for a new form of struggle, one that is unarmed, civilian, directly democratic, and community-based. Mas’ha was also a starting point of Anarchists Against the Wall, Israeli activists that joined the Palestinian unarmed struggle as well as Israeli initiatives.
This new model of resistance began to spread from Mas’ha to other villages in the West Bank affected by construction of the Wall, including Budrus, Bil’in, Bidu, Jayyous, Ni’ilin, Um Salmuna, and others. A key component of the Popular Struggle is direct resistance to the occupation, using tactics such as vigils, demonstrations, and direct action including removal of roadblocks placed by the Israeli army that prevent the free movement of Palestinians, re-building Palestinian houses demolished by Israeli authorities/army, escorting farmers to their lands under the threat of settler and army violence, water convoys to villages, and cutting fences separating Palestinians from their lands.
For Israeli activists, the struggle also continues within Israel. Protests and direct action inside Israeli cities remind the Israeli public of its responsibility and involvement in the military occupation and oppression of Palestinians in the occupied territories and within Israel. The struggle continues and at great human cost: as of August 2009, nineteen unarmed Palestinians have been murdered by soldiers and border police at demonstrations against the Wall, and thousands of others injured or arrested, including Palestinians, internationals, and Israelis. The Popular Struggle is not only about crossing physical borders; it means to cross the mental border between Palestinians and Israelis and subvert the policy of racial segregation created by the Israeli government.
Photos: Keren Manor, Anne Paq, Oren Ziv, Yotam Ronen
Editing: Anka Mirkin