West Bank youth revive armed struggle in new mood of Palestinian resistance

Palestinian resistance is growing in the face of indiscriminate killings and escalating aggression by the Israeli Defense Forces  and Israeli settlers. It is led by a new generation of brave Palestinian youth. Their calls for action have been heeded by Palestinians across the West Bank and Gaza. 

The Jenin Brigades and the Lions’ Den are Jenin- and Nablus-based armed youth groups which emerged this year after the August killing of prominent resistance fighter Ibrahim al-Nabulsi, known as the Lion of Nablus. They have brought back armed resistance in the West Bank to a level which has not been seen since the second intifada. 

Escalating Israeli violence and intense oppression

The Palestinian people have every right to use all forms of struggle to liberate their homeland from calling for boycotts to armed resistance. This new armed resistance, targeting soldiers of the Israeli occupation, should be understood against the backdrop of intense oppression and violence by the occupiers, including by illegal Israeli settlers protected by the Israeli Defense Forces. 

“The amount of attacks by the Israeli side is massive. The amount of arrests in the West Bank is increasing every single day,” says Hadeel Shatara of Samidoun Political Prisoner Solidarity Network. With the extreme rightwing set to form the next Israeli government following the Nov. 2 election, even more repression is expected. 

The Israeli ruling parties and their backers in Washington act on the assumption that this extreme repression will quash resistance. The message the Palestinian people have heard, however, is that the only way they will get their freedom is through confrontation with the Israeli occupation.

These new groups are not part of any one political group, and do not act in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority, which would persecute them for their armed resistance as part of their policy of “security coordination” with Israel. The PA has lost legitimacy with the Palestinian people as a result of its cooperation with Israel, alongside Israel’s relentless sabotage of any two-state solution.

“When the PA sends out a call for people to go in the streets, no one goes … When young men aged 18-years-old asked people to go out on the streets at 1:30 a.m. at night, the whole country went out on the streets,” Shatara said.

Most recent events have centered on 22-year-old Udai Tamimi, a resistance fighter alleged to have shot and killed an Israeli soldier on Oct. 8 at the Shu’fait military checkpoint by the West Bank Shu’fat refugee camp.  Due to mass support from the population, he was able to evade one of the most powerful militaries in the world for ten days until he was gunned down while conducting another operation in another part of the West Bank.

Tamimi allegedly shot the soldier and then disappeared into the camp. The IDF then laid siege to the Shu’fait camp and a neighboring town. Palestinians in the camp helped Tamimi evade capture by taking to the streets, planting obstacles in the streets to block Israeli army movement, and even having young men in the camp shave their heads to resemble Tamimi.

From outside the camp, Palestinians provided cover through social media and phone calls flooding lines with false information. 

Held under siege, Palestinians in the camp also protested the collective punishment that prevented their movement to and from the camp, affecting livelihoods and access to needed resources. They organized a campwide disobedience campaign and strike, with 200 gathering and confronting Israel soldiers at the Shu’fait checkpoint. 

United resistance

Tamimi’s final moments conducting another armed action and his assassination were recorded on video and circulated through social media. In his final handwritten will Tamimi wrote: “I know that I will be martyred sooner or later, and I know that I did not liberate Palestine with this operation. But I carried it out with a clear objective, that the operation will move hundreds of youth to pick up the rifle after I am gone. Udai, the hunted 10/11.”

Thousands came out across the West Bank and Gaza to mark his death and denounce his killing. The Lions’ Den called for a Day of Rage and general strike that millions of Palestinians observed. 

When Israel responded by raiding the Nablus old city, and in a four-hour gun battle, shot down five youth, three of them thought to be freedom fighters, outraged Palestinians came out in the tens of thousands to attend the funerals Oct. 25.

Tamimi’s message and that of other martyrs, including the five killed last month in Nablus and al-Nabulsi, have inspired Palestinians to continue the struggle and have ignited hope in a new wave of resistance led by the youth of Palestine who grew up under the extreme oppression following the Second Intifada. Their messages are a rallying cry for all Palestinians, urging them to continue the fight against Israeli settler-colonialism and aggression.

Lions come out of their dens

With over 165 martyrs in 2022 alone, among them women, children and youth, the Israeli government has continued its blatant and violent crimes against humanity with full support by the U.S. government. Murdered, humiliated, repressed, Palestinian youth feel they have no choice but to fight back if they want to have a future.

 “We took the resistance to a different level in order to protect our lives, because now we’re really fighting for our lives every single day. And it’s a fight for basic human rights,” says Shatara. “If we don’t fight now, then the next generation will not have their future.” 

The return to armed struggle sees mass support across Palestine. The youth of these groups are representatives of the Palestinian people and uphold the struggle of the martyrs who went before them, and who refuse to surrender. It is this heroic fighting spirit in the face of overwhelming odds that will bring about the final days of Zionist occupation and liberate Palestine.

Picture: Oct. 25 funeral of the five Palestinians murdered by Israeli forces in Nablus. Credit: Screen shot from Palestine Online video by Hisham Abu Shaqla.

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