Israel / Occupied Palestine: The sparks which ignited the rebellion

Solidarity with the Intifada! Down with the Israeli repression!

By Yossi Schwarz, Internationalist Socialist League (RCIT Section in Israel / Occupied Palestine), 18.10.2015,


The struggle of Palestinians is not a popular uprising as was the first popular “Intifada” which began in 1987, nor an organized small scale guerrilla campaign against the occupation like the second Intifada that began in 2000. It is certainly not a wave of “terror” as Israel calls it. It is the reaction of young Palestinians who can no longer stand the lack of any hope for a normal life and who have had enough with the systematic repression by the Israeli state and the settlers. It was triggered by Israeli actions in the Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount) and the anger over the killing of the Dawabsheh family in the isolated village of Duma, 25 km southeast of Nablus, by Jewish right wing terrorists who are apparently known to the authorities, as Israel’s Minister of Defense Moshe Ya'alon has admitted on two occasions: "We know who is responsible, but we will not expose those findings in order to protect our intelligence sources." (1)

The Dawabsheh family home was set alight on July 31st. An initial investigation revealed that masked men threw Molotov cocktails into two homes, and spray painted "Long live the messiah king" and "revenge" in Hebrew on the walls. The Dawabsheh family was staying in one of the homes, while the other was vacant. The family woke up as a result of the fire, and tried to escape the flames with two of their children, four-year-old Ahmed and eighteen-month-old Ali. The family managed to escape, however infant Ali died as a result of his burns. Saed Dawabsheh, Ali's father, succumbed to his injures a week later. Ali's mother, Reham fought for her life for over a month, after which she too died of her wounds. The only survivor of the heinous attack was the family's eldest son, four-year-old Ahmed, who continues to be treated in an intensive care hospital unit.

Naser Dawabsheh, a member of the extended family, responded to the statement of Israel’s Minister of Defense saying, "Ya'alon's statement is not justified, Israel must immediately expose the murderers. They burned the whole society and not just Duma." Dawabsheh continued to say, "I know the attack was a major incident for Israel, and that Israel wants to arrest them in order to show the world that it is a country which chases and apprehends murderers." But he also added that, "Even if they will be arrested, what will happen then? The court will just say they are crazy, and they will live out their lives in some hotel like the murderers of Mohamed Abu- Khdeir."

A communist Member of Knesset Aida Toma-Suleiman (Joint Arab List) also reacted to Ya'alon's comments saying, "The Minister of Defense, who left the Dawabsheh family to die, continues his flagrant scornful attitude by saying that they will not prosecute the criminal murderers - in order to not expose their sources." The Joint List MK continued to say, "Would it even be possible to think that the defense establishment would act the same way if a Jewish family was murdered. Ya'alon's remarks confirm the forgiving attitude within the system towards settler terrorism, which allows for the next murder."


The nature of the rebellion


Regardless of how Israel and Western media may be portraying the current round of violence, it is in fact an anti-imperialist struggle in the form of blind anger. Like similar events in history, some of the victims of blind fury against oppression are not directly involved in any specific act of oppression, but at the same time do not oppose the oppression. Thus they are not exactly innocent victims, but they are the wrong target and the violence against them only serves the Israeli government and its campaign of state terrorism.

This rebellion brings to mind some of the black slaves' rebellions in America and in particular the rebellion of Ned Turner. The historian Herbert Aptheker in his study American Negro Slave Revolts, found records of approximately two hundred and fifty revolts and conspiracies in the history of American Negro slavery. Aptheker defined a slave revolt as an action involving 10 or more slaves, with “freedom as the apparent aim [and] contemporary references labeling the event as an uprising, plot, insurrection, or the equivalent of these.” (2)

Such rebellions were directed not only against the slave masters but against his family, including young children. Nevertheless these were authentic struggles for freedom, and only those who support slavery can condemn these rebellions on the ground that innocent white people died during them. Slavery and the slave masters were responsible for the violent blind form of the rebellion in the same way the Israeli state and the Israeli government are responsible for the blind violent form of the Palestinian’s current rebellion. The demand of the Israeli government from the leaders of the Arab list to condemn the struggle is grossly hypocritical and should be rejected.

Let it be said loud and clear that the present struggle is justified even when the means are wrong. What is needed are not young people armed with stones and knives that attack simple Israeli civilians, but a massive armed uprising of the Palestinian workers and the poor peasants together with that section of the Jewish workers who support the struggle, with the aim of forming a multinational workers’ state from the river to the sea in place of the current racist imperialist state currently existing on this territory.


The government pushed for this confrontation


The Israeli government has pushed for this confrontation for a long time and the struggle around the Al Aqsa Mosques is a manifestation of the Israeli drive to complete the transformation of Palestine and turn the mosque compound into an integral part of the Israeli state. At the same time, the Arab masses are unable to support the Palestinians because of the situation in Syria and in Egypt.

When the Zionist right wing tried to change the status quo of the Buraq Wall (Western Wall) in 1929, it led to a bloody conflict. An international committee was convened to investigate the situation and determined that the Buraq Wall is absolute Muslim property and Jews are only allowed to pray there "as per custom," provided they do not install any permanent structures. (3)

In 1967 Israel destroyed the 800-year-old Moroccan Quarter adjacent to the Buraq Wall. In 1969, a fire was started in the Al Aqsa Mosque by a visitor from Australia named Denis Michael Rohan. Rohan was a member of an evangelical Christian sect known as the Worldwide Church of God. He hoped that by burning down al-Aqsa Mosque he would hasten the Second Coming of Jesus, making way for the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount. (4) In the ensuing blaze Saladin’s minbar (a pulpit in a mosque where the imam [prayer leader] stands to deliver sermons) was burned down. Since then Israel has not only restricted the rights of Moslems to pray in the Mosques in the compound, but the far-right wingers in Israel, protected by the police, have entered the sanctuary time and again against the wishes of the Moslems. These fascists do not hide their plan to destroy the Mosques and build the “Third Temple”.

The Israeli government claims that The Palestinians are lying when they say that Israel wants to change the status quo of the Mosques. However the one who lies on this question is Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

On October 15, Amos Harel wrote in Haaretz:

But let’s take a look at what has happened at the compound in recent years: The rabbinic taboo against Jews visited the Temple Mount has been broken, and some 10,000 Jews visit there annually; the activities of various groups seeking to change the status quo on the site are increasingly persistent; and cabinet ministers, Knesset members and other public figures support this. Many of them visit the site frequently, until each time the government comes to its senses under the pressure of events and forbids their entry (as it did last November and this month).

There has been no change in the status quo in terms of restricting the rights of Muslim worshippers for the benefit of Jewish worshippers. The Palestinian concerns stem from — in addition to their fondness for conspiracy theories — the precedent of the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, where over several years the Jews have received additional rights and Muslims are still conducting a containment battle over prayer at the site. Of course there is also the reality the Palestinians see around them, from the expansion of settlements through building Jewish enclaves (essentially Jewish settlements) in the heart of Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.

To sum up, the status quo regarding prayer rights has not changed, but the circumstances on the ground and certainly the atmosphere have changed completely. Israel is not blameless in this regard. A tougher government stance earlier on could probably have helped curb the current escalation. With regard to the Temple Mount, the behavior of ministers Uri Ariel, Miri Regev (in the previous government) and others in the extreme right wing of the government and the coalition was irresponsible and dangerous.” (5)

However, Harel didn’t do his homework regarding the tomb of Tomb of the Patriarchs. If he had, he would have known that Israel claimed that it would not change the status quo of the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, while in fact it did.


The Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron


Between 1929 and 1967 Jews were not allowed to enter the cave. In 1968, a special arrangement was made to accommodate Jewish services on the Jewish New Year and Day of Atonement. This led to clashes between the Moslems and the right wing Zionist settlers. In 1994 it led to the massacre committed by Baruch Goldstein an Israeli-American settler that left 29 Palestinian Muslims dead and scores injured. The resulting riots resulted in a further 35 deaths.

The 1996 "Wye River Accords" included an agreement for the site restricting access by both Jews and Muslims. As part of this agreement, the Islamic waqf controlled 81% of the building. This includes the whole of the southeastern section, which lies above the only known entrance to the caves and the entirety of the caves themselves. Jews were not permitted to visit the Cenotaphs of Isaac or Rebecca, which lie entirely within the southeastern section, except for during ten days a year that hold special significance in Judaism. The Israeli government did not allow Jewish religious authorities the right to maintain the site and allow only the waqf to do so. Since the first Intifada the Israeli army controls the access to the shrines. Israeli forces also subject locals to checkpoints and bar all non-Jews from using some of the main roads to the complex.

On February 21, 2010, Israel announced that it would include the site in an Israeli national heritage site protection and rehabilitation plan. (6) The announcement sparked protests from the UN, Arab governments and the United States. UNESCO voted that the “al-Haram al-Ibrahimi/Tomb of the Patriarchs in al-Khalil / Hebron” was "an integral part of the occupied Palestinian Territories.”

Israeli authorities have placed restrictions on calling the Moslems to prayer by the muezzin of the Ibrahimi mosque. The order was enforced 61 times in October 2014, and 52 times in December 2014. Today the Tomb of the Patriarchs is divided and a Jewish synagogue occupies a large part of the tomb.

Thus, while Israel, at the beginning of the 1967 occupation of Hebron, promised not to change the status quo, since than it has in fact changed quite a lot. Therefore, the Palestinians have every reason to suspect Israel, as Israel wants to turn all of Palestine into a Zionist state.

Prior to 1967, the Zionist movement was mostly secular even if the leaders of the colonialist settlers needed the Bible to justify the settling in Palestine. However since 1967 the Zionists have used religious dogmas as a cover for their theft of the lands occupied during the ’67 war. In the process, the ideas of the far-right religious extremists have become the dogma of the mainstream represented by the most right wing government in the history of Israel. Today most of the members of the Israeli government support the Third Temple movement. The far right extremists reason that violent clashes between Jews and Moslems will result in a new ethnic cleansing and following by the annexation of the rest of Palestine.

This is the reality which stood behind the brutal killing of the Dawabsheh family and the brutal murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir. The aim was to provoke the Palestinians. Israeli’s government policy of facilitating killings is now intended to break the will of the Palestinians to achieve their own mini-state even in a ridiculously small part of Palestine.

The Palestinian Authority which collaborates with Israel is not only betraying the Palestinians masses but is digging its own grave.

The young Palestinians, including women, who are fighting the occupation are acting without leadership and a program that can win this struggle. They’re using stones and knives against the Israeli army, one of the strongest armies in the world. The Israeli army and police do not hesitate to kill the Palestinians fighting for freedom. As we have said, the tactics being used by the uprising are wrong, as they cannot lead to victory, and simply provide the Israeli government and state with an excuse by to inflict as much suffering on the Palestinians as possible. However, irrespective of this, we stand in full solidarity with the Palestinian youth their struggle for liberation! (7)

For a Free, Red Palestine from the River to the Sea!



(1) Yoav Zitun, Moran Azulay, Elior Levy: Ya'alon: We know who was behind Duma attack, ynet,,7340,L-4699818,00.html

(2) Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Did African-American Slaves Rebel?

(3) See on this also our historical analysis by Yossi Schwartz: Israel's War of 1948 and the Degeneration of the Fourth International, in: Revolutionary Communism, Special Issue on Palestine, No. 10, June 2013,

(4) Wikipedia: Al-Aqsa Mosque,

(5) Amos Harel: Terror Wave Q&A: Haaretz Military Analyst Answers Readers’ Questions,

(6) See Wikipedia: List of National Heritage Sites of Israel,

(7) See on this numerous statements and articles on the website of the RCIT and its Section in Occupied Palestine at respectively

RCIT: Israel / Occupied Palestine: Victory to the 3rd Intifada! No Peace with Apartheid – Mass Resistance, International Solidarity and Armed Struggle Will Free Palestine! 13.10.2015,

Yossi Schwartz: Israel’s Six-Day War of 1967. On the Character of the War, the Marxist Analysis and the Position of the Israeli Left, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 12, July/August 2013,

Michael Pröbsting: On some Questions of the Zionist Oppression and the Permanent Revolution in Palestine, in: Revolutionary Communism, Special Issue on Palestine, No. 10, June 2013,