Israel’s revocation of permits and closure of Yatta this week reflect its need to keep the Palestinian issue at bay by controlling and threatening their people for every action of a few.
A Palestinian family from Nablus was supposed to visit their relatives in an Arab town in Israel for Ramadan later this month. They were especially excited that they would get to see the beach in Jaffa for the first time, which despite being only an hour’s drive away was normally inaccessible to them as residents of the West Bank. But on Thursday morning they were informed that they couldn’t go anymore: their permits to enter Israel had been revoked because of a shooting in Tel Aviv by two Palestinian gunmen on Wednesday evening.
The family had nothing to do with the attack in Tel Aviv. But the Israeli government seemed to think otherwise when, just a few hours after the incident, it suspended the permits of 83,000 Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza who had hoped to see distant family members, vacation in cities in Israel, and pray in Jerusalem during Ramadan. On the same day, the Israeli army sealed off the shooters’ hometown of Yatta near Hebron, trapping its 64,000 residents while soldiers raided homes in search of the attackers’ accomplices.
For many Israelis, these heavy responses are logical security measures: they can increase the chances of achieving operational goals, and deter others from committing similar attacks by demonstrating the severe consequences for such actions.
This approach, however, is abhorrently illegal and immoral – and simply doesn’t work. Collective punishment has been Israel’s main response to Palestinian altercations of any kind for decades, from demolishing the homes of Palestinian attackers’ families to imposing a blockade on 1.7 million people in the Gaza Strip. Yet all these policies have failed to dissuade Palestinians from resenting the occupation or from resisting it violently or nonviolently. If anything, they only refuel Palestinians’ antagonism, feed the cycle of violence, and make future attacks all the more likely.
The damaging effects of collective punishment are well known to many Israeli decision-makers. But in their unwillingness to address the conditions that fuel Palestinian violence (the occupation being a principal source of them, as Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai stated this week), they have stuck to the same oppressive policies of the past in order to contain...Read More