There is no stopping the ongoing knifing on the streets of Jerusalem and the West Bank. A whole generation of young Palestinian teens have willfully placed themselves on the front lines of an urban armed resistance. They asked nobody’s permission – not their parents, not their preachers, teachers, and certainly not Mahmoud Abbas or Hamas. Child army of resistors, not marching in traditional single or double file, but springing their cause forward through zigzag martyrdom; paying the high cost of liberation in pure vestal blood – because for Palestinian youth, remaining still is tantamount to a slow death in chains. Undignified. Unacceptable. To be resisted at early age and at all cost. “Give me liberty or give me death” is their sacred, evident manifesto.
When the Mainstream Media publishes news on the Knife Intifada, all they publish is straight-up journalistic information such as place and time of attack and names of attackers and attacked, plus the degree of casualties. They also publish Israel’s response which is to shoot the young rebels on the spot, arrest family members of the martyred attackers, and often bulldoze or blow up their homes. In other words, Israel’s response is state assassination and collective punishment – something that the dismayed European Union has taken note of, especially that the Israeli tactic is not showing any signs of either slowing down or stopping the Knife Intifada. On the world stage, Netanyahu’s brutal response is not being seen as the definition of a solution; and also inside Israel, aspects of media and intelligentsia are criticizing Netanyahu’s extrajudicial executions as a failed policy that promotes violence and civic unrest.
Unique in its character and unstoppable till the occupation is lifted, this resistance phenomenon indeed therefore deserves the title of ‘Infinite Intifada’.
Many media experts and intelligence eggheads have been left scratching their heads trying to define this elusive movement; trying to identify its components and machinations but alas, the task for them has been like picking up mercury with a fork. Five months of close scrutiny and the only analysis that’s been harvested is that it is a leaderless movement whose lone-wolf operations are random and performed by untrained youth.
Well, I beg to completely differ with the above. We now have an observable pattern forming and identifiable.
First, we note that all attacks have been against either the Israeli military, its security apparatus, or against settlers on internationally recognized Palestinian territory that falls inside the 1967 borders. All the martyrs have uniformly understood and operated only against these three targets, considered legitimate by international law. It’s as if young Palestinians are fighting an occupation with utmost care to remain on the correct side of the law. They are not haphazardly running amok on a stabbing frenzy: they are target-specific and using, for the most part, kitchen utensils – makeshift weapons that were not purchased or acquired through any global Military-Industrial Complex agents. They are ‘civilian’ weapons, not militant weapons. They are weapons one would likely use against an intruder in a home invasion. They are weapons that inspire the least fear and the most sympathy. They are the underdog civilian’s weapon of choice – a kitchen knife in the hands of a modern David.
The first Intifada was fought with rocks and the second one with suicide belts. ‘Death by a thousand cuts’ appears to be the game plan and blueprint of this third Intifada.
Although the cost of this form of resistance is evidently profoundly high, it is in fact a very smart and appropriate response to seven decades of living under a violent occupation and with no reprieve in sight. This non-linear strategy of resistance is seeking long-term results, not ostentatious, instant liberation. Moreover, this utterly patient mindset, this level of foresight and resolve – not usually associated with distractable youth – tells us there is indeed a hidden sage leadership. A leadership that is not interested in personal fame and gain. A leadership that has studied and learned from the mistakes of the two preceding Intifadas. A leadership that has no faith in any existing Palestinian political party – shunning and refusing alignment with both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. A prudent leadership that has thought long and hard about the strategy of the Knife Intifada way before the fist stabbing operation occurred back in early September 2015. A leadership that absolutely must operate as an invisible force in order to continue its operations. An astute leadership that evidently understands strategic resistance – in fact, we can safely say that they are masters at it as we watch the vaunted Mossad, Shin Bet and other Israeli intelligence organizations chase their own tails silly trying to identify and bust up the movement. All the Israeli agencies’ efforts combined have failed to garner a single piece of evidence that may lead them to the movements leadership. With nothing but air in their fists, the Israelis continue to be outmaneuvered by the movement’s ghost leadership and its random stabbing operations.
The council of the Knife Intifada does not operate out of nefarious underground bunkers or tunnels – they operate out of the political ether. They do not hold meetings for members – no need for meetings when the instruction is simple and fixed: attack military targets with bluntness at a time of your choosing.
This invisible leadership has also proven itself to be immensely media savvy – choosing targets that symbolize the occupation such as infamously cruel military checkpoints in the West Bank, and with increasingly frequency, brutal checkpoints in occupied East Jerusalem too. These targets are specifically to highlight, through social-media, the stark occupation itself. Again, these chosen military targets bypass the label of ‘terrorist’ and inspire understanding and support worldwide. Even in the USA where Zionist media is the mainstream, the comments section of knifing reports indicate a higher than expected level of Americans in sympathy for Palestinian youths assassinated in cold blood on the streets of occupied Palestine. Clearly, Americans do not approve of Israel’s ‘shoot civilians first and ask questions later’ approach – often, parallels between American and Israeli police’s racist brutality are drawn and compared. Indeed, footage of Palestinian knifing attacks have been so compelling and so exceedingly popular worldwide that it prompted Israel to put frantic, maximum pressure on Google and Youtube to censor these videos and bury them in the subterranean folds of the internet, so as to not make them instantly available to the global masses.
Up to date, The Palestinian health ministry says 149 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces or Israeli civilians, with over 15,000 injured in clashes with Israeli soldiers during protests that erupted after these extra-judicial street murders. Twenty-eight Israelis have been concurrently registered as having been killed by knifing attacks. The ratio here is approximately 5 to 1 martyred Palestinians to Israelis killed.
The glaring discrepancy between successful and failed stabbings can only point to one thing: these youths are not serial, professional stabbers, but first-timers. Even though they have not been trained in traditional camps in a traditional manner, they have nevertheless received guidance and simple instruction in the form of a circulated illustration of where on the enemy’s body the martyr should effectively strike:
It’s a one-shot mission that would result in their death whether they successfully killed the occupier or not. The stakes are excruciatingly high and would require absolute nerves of steel in a hormonally charged young person’s body. No wonder therefore that their aim becomes imprecise and jittery during attacks. Here we note that both young Palestinian males and females, in accordance with International Law are exercising their inalienable right to resist their occupier, even at the cost of their own lives. This is the very reason why most of the social media world considers them to be heroes, morns them through numerous hashtags as modern champions of liberty, while simultaneously ignoring the Israeli casualties.
Because this Knife Intifada was conceived to be based on endurance and longevity, it has within it the seed of flexibility and escalation. Every now and then, the knife is substituted for a gun. These explosive attacks carry with them the message that indeed the movement does possess firearms, but will be using them tactically instead of regularly – for the time being, that is. Here, I must make mention of car-rammings: a method of resistance that – though rarely employed – has in fact been used for many years previously and way before the Knife Intifada even began. These car-rammings have tended to be truly spontaneous acts of resistance, with no prior organization or premeditation, and always as an expression of instantaneous individualistic human rage at the injustice of the occupier.
It is impossible to stop the Knife Intifada. Netanyahu assigning all blame for this Intifada on PA “incitement” and Youtube videos instead of on the occupation will not end the knifing attacks in the slightest. They are here to stay so long as the occupation continues – they are here to remind the world of the ongoing occupation of Palestine and of the crimes and incompetency of Israeli politicians who are unable to address this growing security threat inside territories under their military control. Presently, we have Israeli citizens living in terror of being stabbed on the streets by any random Arab-looking person; and we also have Israeli military personnel working their checkpoints in constant fear of being the next sudden target Indeed, the Knife Intifada’s strategy has been incredibly successful at producing a tangible ‘balance of fear’ between the two sides. This has been achieved in under six months.. And who would have thunk that mere kitchen knives against a nuclear armed occupier would be so effective?
With infinite knife in hand and with phoenix rising in the sky of their eyes, Palestinian youths are more than ever taking matters of their personal freedom and futures into their own hands – not for a moment relying on the international community or their own leadership for salvation. Unlike past Palestinian generations, these young warriors are exercising the art of sustainable warfare against a well-funded enemy: the knife costs are nominal, the targets clear, the method simple and the righteous rage boundless and irreconcilable.
They may not single-handedly be able to uproot the occupation, but they have certainly created an added immediate threat and a humiliating pressure point that is impossible for any Israeli government to dissipate or corrupt.
Three days ago, two 13 year old Palestinian girls registered as Israeli citizens attempted to knife an Israeli guard in Ramla, an Arab neighborhood in central Israel. One can only imagine the feelings and the conversations they must have had while planning and executing their attack. It would seem to be the case too that the seed of territorial expansion is also evidently within the Knife Intifada.
Watch closely for the time when this Intifada opportunistically evolves itself from knife to bullet.