Balwan Nagial
Balwan Nagial

Terrorism and Operation Guardian of the Walls

The political violence in Palestine denotes acts of violence or terrorism arising out of so-called Palestine nationalism. It is believed that these terrorist organisations have political goals such as self-determination and exercise of sovereignty of Palestine, the liberation of Palestine and establishment of Palestine state either whole of Palestine territories and Israel territories or only Palestine territories[1]. However, other limited goals could be Palestine right of return, the release of prisoners from Israeli prisons, personal grievances, revenge, trauma, among many others.

On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, the head of the Jewish Agency, proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel. On Nov. 29, 1947, the United Nations adopted Resolution 181 (also known as the Partition Resolution) that would divide Great Britain’s former Palestinian mandate into Jewish and Arab states in May 1948, when the British mandate was scheduled to end. Under the resolution, the area of religious significance surrounding Jerusalem would remain a corpus separatum under international control administered by the United Nations.[2] However, the large influx of Jewish immigrants into the region caused tension with the native Palestinian Arabs, and violence flared between the two groups. The history of the Jews in Israel from Roman times and afterwards represents the struggle of the Jewish people to maintain their hold on their ancestral homeland in the face of political, economic and, at times, religious challenges. The tension continues until today. Jerusalem and the Jewish people are so intertwined that telling the history of one is telling the history of the other. For more than 3,000 years, Jerusalem has played a central role in the history of the Jews, culturally, politically, and spiritually, a role first documented in the Scriptures. This sharply contrasts the relationship between Jerusalem and the new Islamists who artificially inflate Islam’s links to Jerusalem.

The Arab rulers who controlled Jerusalem through the 1950s and 1960s demonstrated no religious tolerance in a city that gave birth to two major Western religions. That changed after the Six-Day War in 1967, when Israel regained control of the whole city. One of Israel’s first steps was to recognise and respect all religious interests in Jerusalem officially. However, the war for control of Jerusalem and its religious sites is not over.[3] Palestinian terrorism has targeted Jerusalem, particularly in an attempt to regain control of the city from Israel. The result is that they have turned Jerusalem, literally the City of Peace, into a bloody battleground and have thus forfeited their claim to share in the city’s destiny. After seven decades plus its creation by an internationally recognised act of independence, Israel remains the only country in the world subjected to a constant outburst of the most peculiar conspiracy theories and misrepresentations. The international community compulsively criticises the policies and actions of Israel, and even its right to be is constantly debated and challenged by its Arab enemies and some segments in the West.

Palestine terrorism

Several split groups with different loyalties, motivations,  goals,  and capabilities threaten Israeli security.  Palestinian groups that have been involved in politically motivated violence include the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), Fatah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command (PFLP-GC), the  Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Abu Nidal Organization, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas.[4] From 1920 till 2020, total Israelis have been killed in various terrorist attacks. During the six years of the first uprising from Dec. 9, 1987, to Sep. 9, 1993, a total of 200 people were murdered. Moreover, more than 1,000 Israelis were killed during the Palestinian from Sep 2000 to Sep 2005.[5] Palestinian terrorist groups since the start of the Second Intifada in 2000 have posed the greatest threat to Israeli security, and it is expansive also. Widespread terrorism in Israel continues as the strategy favoured by the Palestinian Authority (PA), Fatah, and Mahmoud Abbas, who heads them. They believe that ‘Popular Resistance’ can make difficulties for Israel, the Israeli security forces, and the Israeli residents. They feel it can be used to increase awareness of the Palestinian cause and serve as an alternative to Hamas’ ideology of armed intifada. They continue their remote support to terrorism and glorify the ‘shaheed cult’ in many ways, including speeches and public declarations, adoring the Palestinians who carry out attacks, extending political and media support, the participation of senior PA and Fatah figures at the funerals held for terrorists killed in actions, paying condolence calls to their families of terrorists killed. Also, by naming streets, institutions and town squares for shaheeds and providing financial support to the families of shaheeds and prisoners. “ Our basic aim is to liberate the land from the Mediterranean Seas to the Jordan River. We are not concerned with what took place in June 1967 or in eliminating the consequences of the June war. The Palestinian revolution’s basic concern is the uprooting of the Zionist entity from our land and liberating it.” — Yasser Arafat, 1970 (Gilbert Martin Israel: A history. Doubleday, New York, USA. 1998. ISBN 978-0-385-40401-3 p.418, August 1970).

Operation Guardian of the Walls.

An outbreak of violence in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian Conflict begun on May 10 2021, though disorders took place earlier and persistent until a ceasefire came into effect on May 21. There were protests and riots, police riot-control measures, rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and airstrikes of Israel targeting the  Gaza Strip.

It was learnt that the court cases evicting about 300 Palestinian people from Sheikh Jarrah caused this turmoil in Palestine and was spread worldwide through social media. Sheikh Jarrah, the Palestinian neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem facing imminent Israeli eviction, was once an open orchard lying less than a kilometre north of the ancient walls of Jerusalem’s Old City. In the early 20th century, wealthy Palestinian families moved to build modern houses in the area, escaping the narrow streets and the hustle and bustle of their air-tight homes in the Old City. (Mustafa Abu Sneineh, Middle East Eye May 6, 2021). Sheikh Jarrah derives its name from the personal physician of Islamic General Saladin. He was the first to settle there when Muslims captured the city from Christians in 1187 AD.

Beforehand, the Palestinians were expelled from the neighbourhood in 2002, 2008, and 2017, with Israeli settler groups replacing them. The current removal attempts are based on the 1970 Israeli law that allows Jews to reclaim East Jerusalem land owned by Jews before 1948. No similar law exists for Palestinians to reclaim homes from which they were driven elsewhere in the city.

The Iranian-backed Hamas terror organisation has launched hundreds of rockets into Israel, targeting dense civilian populations in cities, towns and villages. Jerusalem, Israel’s capital, and the Tel Aviv metropolitan area were also targeted.[6] ​​​​​​​​​​ The operation began on May 10, 2021, when thousands of rockets were launched by the Iranian-backed Hamas terror group from the Gaza Strip toward Israeli towns and cities, including the capital of Israel, Jerusalem. Initially, about 150 rockets were fired, wherein two residents of Ashkelon were killed, and dozens of others were injured. Hamas and PIJ’s actions put the lives of many  Israelis under the direct threat of rocket fire. The Israeli govt further stated that the attacks perpetrated by the Hamas terror organisation essentially constitute a double war crime: indiscriminate attacks on a civilian population originating from within a civilian population. Moreover, the moral responsibility for this worsening of the situation and those injured or killed on both sides falls ultimately on Hamas and the other terrorist organisations.

Furthermore, this operation ended on May 20, 2021, when Hamas and Isreal accepted the ceasefire. “The Security Cabinet, this evening (Thursday, May 20 2021), unanimously accepted the recommendation of all of the security officials, the IDF Chief-of-Staff, the head of the ISA, the head of the Mossad and the head of the National Security Council to accept the Egyptian initiative for a mutual ceasefire without pre-conditions, to take effect at a time to be determined.”(Prime Minister’s Office statement, Israel Foreign Ministry Press Release dated May 20, 2021). In the ensuing IDF airstrikes, about 232 people, including some children in the Gaza strip, have been killed as per the health ministry of Palestine Authority and about 12 people, including two children in Israel, killed by Hamas militant group based in Gaza-Strip. IDF responded effectively.[7]

Outcomes:

Ten days of hostilities in the Gaza Strip have once again focused on Israel’s predicament of when, how, and under what conditions this conflict should be concluded. The challenges were more compounded this time than in earlier asymmetric conflicts in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon since Israel has become entangled in various issues such as fighting against Hamas and PIJ in the Gaza Strip, religious and national tension in Jerusalem, troubles in mixed Jewish-Arab towns and cities in Israel, and the apprehension of an outburst in the West Bank and the northern areas.

Hamas achieved the goals that it set for itself at the outset of the campaign. The organisation projected as the defender of al-Aqsa and Jerusalem, launched rocket attacks deep into Israeli territories, causing 12 fatalities and hundreds of wounded, intensified the civil unrest in mixed Jewish-Arab towns, provoked riots in the West Bank; and above all, highlighted that it is the leader of the Palestinian camp while indicating the feebleness of the Palestinian Authority (PA).[8]

Israel mainly absorbed in the hostility against Hamas and PIJ and treated the fighting yet another round in the ongoing conflicts with terrorist organisations with the sole aim as a deterrent. With the complete knowledge of the high price, the organisation will pay for its aggression, weaken its military power, and puncture its ability to rebuild its forces. Israel pitches Hamas as the responsible party in the Gaza Strip without threatening its position as the ruler there. This marked the clear difference between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Israel aimed to eliminate significant leaders and commanders of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). The elimination of these senior figures was part of destroying their command-and-control structures and limiting their capacity for future operations. Furthermore, to some extent, Isreal achieved this aim.

Hamas compelled about  25 per cent of the Israeli populace to feel the taste of war and hide in shelters. On the strategic level, Hamas feels that the war enhanced its ambition to represent the Palestinian people. Perhaps Hamas’s most crucial tactical success was its ability to accumulate, store and eventually launch rockets, despite the Israeli military and intelligence efforts to prevent it.

Conclusion:

Israeli military commanders articulated their apprehension that Hamas may start the fighting again because of its sense of victory. However, other experts in Israel do not rule out the likelihood that a resultant ceasefire facilitated by Egyptian intelligence services will be long lasting.  The Israel-Palestine issue is deep-rooted in history, and peace is possible, but terrorism is the stumbling block. Loses on both sides is a human tragedy. While the intentional and random shelling of Israeli civilians, reinforced by genocidal antisemitism and provocation, has initiated the latest conflict, there is a longer fundamental proximate cause: the Hamas Terrorist War of Attrition against Israel since 2000. Israel is segmented into left and right, religious and secular, Arab and Jewish, and subdivided within each category. These differences are not precise. Israel has political compulsions also.

A few Muslims fundamentalists blamed Israel’s policy toward Muslims in Palentine and US support to Isreal for the heinous attack on humanity on 9/11 in the US. It is regretted that we see vicious antisemitism rear its ugly head worldwide and notably throughout social media. This time, hatred towards Jews is justified under the guise of racial justice. The reality is that we need to step up, speak out and take action in the face of this nasty transmuting virus of antisemitism. Israel has become more or less established in the West Bank, construction and new Jewish settlements that make it increasingly difficult to imagine a viable Palestinian state on that land. On the other hand, the Palestinian leadership remains profoundly divided: The militant group Hamas controls Gaza, while Fatah, a secular nationalist political party, nominally administers the West Bank through the Palestinian Authority (with Israel still ultimately in control). Reviving the goal of a two-state solution is vital and is a viable alternative.

[1] The Reconstruction of Palestinian NationalismBetween Revolution and Statehood by Helena Lindholm Schulz, Page 161 Published by Manchester University Press, 1999

[2] Creation of Israel, 1948 – Milestones: 1945–1952.   https://history.state.gov › milestones › creation-israel

[3] History: Re-Birth of a Nation – Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. https://mfa.gov.il › MFA_Graphics

[4] Wikipedia, retrieved on May 28, 2021.

[5] Comprehensive Listing of Terrorism Victims in Israel, https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org › comprehensive-li..  Accessed on May 27, 2021.

[6] Operation Guardian of the Walls 10 May 2021 – Israel Ministry.  https://mfa.gov.il › Terrorism › Palestinian. Accessed on May 28, 2021.

[7] A Decisive Moment in Israel- Palestine Conflict’, by Balwan Nagial  https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/a-decisive-moment-in-israel-palestine-conflict/ . Accessed on May 27, 2021.

[8] Operation Guardian of the Walls: Envisioning the End | INSS.   https://www.inss.org.il. Accessed on May 28, 2921

 

About the Author
Colonel Balwan Nagial retired from the Indian Army in 2019 after serving for thirty years. Managed administration, security, project mgt throughout his service. He loves writing and contributing in newspapers and magazines in India. He loves Israeli culture.
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