On April 30, 2013 the newly freed Palestinian prisoner Salam Asa’ad Za’ghal, 24, attacked an Israeli settler near Za’atra checkpoint in the north of the West Bank. The young man stabbed the settler to death, before Israeli soldiers and the border police arrived at the scene to shoot at him. Salam used the settler’s gun to return fire but eventually was wounded and taken away.
Soon after the attacks, Fatah’s military wing Al-Aqsa Brigades rushed to claim responsibility for the attack, saying this comes as a response to the murder of the prisoners Arafat Jaradat and Mysara Abu Hamdyeh while in Israeli custody. They also claimed that they were granted the green light (from who? Abbas?) to begin a series of attacks to target the occupiers. Yet Fatah’s dismantled military wing claims doesn’t show any indication this act was planned or performed by the group, as facts on the ground prove this statement false.
“If it was really planned, God help us.”
The nature of the attack indicate its randomness. Location, timing, weapon, are all elements that point to how desperate and poorly planned the attack was.
First, the attack took place in a heavily guarded junction used by both Palestinians and settlers. Settlers are usually located in two main bus stops, over looked by at least two manned military units. Palestinians are not allowed anywhere near those bus stops. They can pass it, but they are not allowed to wait anywhere near it. If anything Palestinians usually wait for their rides 10 meters away to avoid soldiers or the settlers’ harassment.
Second, the attack took place around 8 in the morning, a busy time of the day where the attacker would be easily spotted and captured by whoever is in the vicinity, whether they are soldiers, or armed settler militia.
Finally, Salam used a knife to stab the settler to death, which is a very simple, accessible, and impractical tool to implement a supposedly “previously planned” revolutionary attack.
If the attack was planned, it was solely by the attacker himself, which fits in with all the actions that targeted Israelis in the West Bank in the last years, specially the stabbing, running over, and shooting incidents– all that can hardly be classified under the term as being “militant acts.”
For example, in 2012 at least 7 to 10 stabbing attempt were reported, although no Israeli was killed, the attempts left few injured and the attackers either dead or detained. In other hand 2011, 5 settlers were killed in an attack on Itemar settlement.
These murders usually flourish when an organized resistance is absent in the oppressed society. They are the undying indication of the abnormality of the situation those people live in, and are strong reminders for both the oppressed and the oppressors of the fact that there is absolutely nothing normal in colonial occupation.
Those attacks are by nature violent, brutal, know no mercy, and will always end with the attacker’s death or arrest, unless they are lucky. They are also hard to prevent by the oppressors, Fatah’s PA and Hamas included. If no one knows what’s on your mind, no one can stop you.
A feature worth noting that dominated all individual attacks in the last year is that they are all done by the marginalized class, those with nothing to lose. Salam as the attackers before him belongs to the wretched of the Palestinian society, those who suffer from both the occupation and class oppression.
Language used to comment on Salam looks although praised him as a freedom fighter, were full of class arrogance. A man commented saying, “Even a man with such a haircut proved to be more honorable than many of us.” If you don’t know, haircuts in Palestine usually indicate a certain class or background, as people tend to associate certain looks to either refugee camps, cities or villages.
Those revolutionary acts although in many people’s opinions are impractical and have if anything a very little influence on the colonial forces, are the pure acts of resistance, untainted with the political interest of the oppressed political elite.
In short, they are the real resistance.