Saturday, February 02, 2013

Sumud at Burin

For the first few decades after the creation of Israel, the Palestinians' resistance tactic was called sumud, or "clinging," and referred simply to holding onto land as a means of non-violently asserting rights to it.  I haven't seen the term used, and these days the layers of Israeli control in different areas of the West Bank mean that very little land is undisputed Palestinian territory, but the spirit is alive and well:
Some 300 Palestinians from the village of Burin and the popular committees against the wall and settlements set up a new neighborhood on village lands, according to reports, calling it Manatir or Bab Al-Huriya (Gate of Freedom). Israeli forces were quick to respond, sealing off the area to prevent supporters from coming in, and attacked the activists with tear gas, rubber-coated bullets and live bullets. Settlers were also attacking Palestinians in the area.
The new neighborhood, or outpost, was set up Saturday morning on privately owned lands in Burin, a village in Area B near Nablus, which has suffered greatly from settler violence in recent years. Activists on the scene told +972 that settlers have been expanding their activities on village lands, backed by soldiers, who in every instance of conflict declare the area a closed military zone and force only the Palestinians off the land – thus allowing the settlers to maintain control. The settlers of this region around Yitzhar are generally known as some of the most militant throughout the West Bank.
Villagers erected several tents and huts, but were quickly attacked by settlers who started throwing stones at them. Soon enough the army got involved as well, fighting the Palestinians back into the village and sending at least one resident to the hospital with a bullet in the leg...
This is the third Palestinian outpost to be set up in past month, the first being Bab Alshams (Gate of the Sun) in the E1 area, which gained both local and international attention until it was forcefully brought down, and the second being Bab Al-Karame (Gate of Dignity) in Beit Iqsa, which was also taken down by the army. Gaining more and more international support since the UN bid on November 29, 2012, Palestinians are expected to continue carrying out unarmed and non-violent protests such as these, highlighting Israel’s racist policies that differentiate in its attitude to Jewish illegal outposts on Palestinian land and Palestinian outposts on their own land.
What the Palestinians are doing here is only superficially the same as what Jewish settlers do, since the Palestinians actually have the support of the people with rights to the lands in question.  However, Israel's mechanisms of occupation supporting the expansion of Jewish settlement in disputed territories while regarding Palestinians as little more than a security threat.  Future historians will explain this thoroughly in their account of how the two-state solution died.

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