This new Palestinian generation was born after the First Intifada in 1987 and barely experienced the Second Intifada in 2000. They grew up under the conditions of the “Oslo Agreement,” which was supposed to give Palestinians “autonomy” and end the occupation. Instead, it established the Palestinian Authority, with its sham negotiations and its cooperation with Israel. The brutal Israeli occupation became even more entrenched. Children and youth watched as Israeli settlements swallowed up their land, as friends and family members were imprisoned and killed, as soldiers invaded their neighborhoods and refugee camps.
Sahar Abbasi, Deputy Director of the Madaa Silwan Creative Center, MECA’s partner in East Jerusalem (See page x), describes the reality there: “Children walk every morning on their way to school, passing houses confiscated by Israeli settlers and protected by the Israeli occupation army. Most of the time, the Israeli soldiers harass them and search their school bags. “
Maya Abu Al Hayat Director of the Palestine Writing Workshop adds, “The violence is in our streets. Even if we keep our children at home, they still can see through the window, hear the shooting, and smell the tear gas.”
Intellectuals and politicians discuss whether what is going in Palestine is a new “intifada” (popular uprising) or not. But the Palestinian youth don’t care what they will call it. They continue to take action in the streets of Palestinian cities, villages, and camps. Collective punishment by Israel fuels more anger and more action. Israeli soldiers and settlers have killed dozens of young Palestinians including unarmed protesters, young men with knives who could have been disarmed, and others doing nothing at all. The friends of Palestinian victim are usually arrested and held for weeks or months. The family’s home is often demolished.
The youth are not following established leaders Social media is the main tool for communication and planning protests. Online, they can express their thoughts against the Israeli occupation and show their desire for freedom, even if it costs them time in Israeli jails. In November, Israeli police arrested Anas Khateeb, a Palestinian teenager, for Facebook posts and held him for more than a month.
Haidar Eid, an independent political commentator from the Gaza Strip wrote about this new generation of activists in an Electronic Intifada article called “Palestine de-Osloized”:
This is a generation that is telling us that they are opposed to all forms of collaboration with the occupier. This is a generation that has seen nothing from Oslo but defeat and humiliation, and they are throwing it off.
They are saying—and we should hear them—that coexistence based on colonization and apartheid is no coexistence at all. It is slavery and they will no longer accept it.
Palestine’s youth are saying: we want all our rights and will accept nothing less.
The Palestinian people have been struggling against the Israeli colonial occupation for 68 years and we have not given up our political rights. The Nakba generation focused on surviving and keeping the Palestinian cause alive. All the generations that came after focused on developing the struggle to achieve our political rights.