Palestinian city of Bethlehem in the West Bank (Flickr/ Dennis Jarvis)

There has never been any ceasefire or pause in the horror for Palestinians who live in the occupied West Bank. The Israeli army murdered at least eight Palestinians during a raid in the city of Jenin last Sunday. They murdered another three elsewhere in the West Bank on the same day.

The murders took the total number of Palestinians killed in the West Bank up to almost 250 since 7 October. Israeli settlers are also feeling increasingly confident to murder and attack Palestinians. The Israeli army protected settlers as they threw stones at Palestinian vehicles at the entrance of the Harris Village near the city of Salfit.

In the village of Birin, the army demolished rows of homes, bulldozed lands and fences, uprooted olive trees, and destroyed a water source on Monday. These attacks are examples of the brutality that is taking place across the West Bank. Yet the resistance is battling back.

The Israeli army has come up against fierce Palestinian fightback in the city of Jenin. The resistance planted homemade bombs on Israeli military vehicles that were being used to invade the city. A Palestinian who lives near Jerusalem told Socialist Worker about what it’s like to live under increased repression and aggression.

“Since the 7 October, the Israeli army has arrested over 3,000 people. We don’t know where they are. We don’t know if they are alive or tortured to death,” he said. “Every night, the army is invading towns and cities. Nothing will stop it. We are under the complete control of the Israeli military. More people are being arrested, and it is killing people every day.

“There are house demolitions as well. In East Jerusalem last week, the army knocked down a whole building. Around Bedouin areas, there is more ethnic cleansing. It feels like a silent attack. It goes to one village after the other and tries to force them out. It wants to get them out of the Jordan Valley completely.

“The Israeli army is not recognising the Palestinian Authority (PA). It blocks roads as it wants. It does what it wants.” The Palestinian added that Israel’s government is “withholding millions” that it usually gives to the PA. “The PA is one of the biggest employers of Palestinians in the West Bank, and because the money from Israel isn’t coming in, people aren’t receiving their wages.

“There are no schools,” he said. “The PA has decided to put school online, on Zoom, which isn’t very practical. Many teachers are refusing to teach and are on strike because they want their wages.” Palestinians in the West Bank are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the PA, which collaborates with the Israeli state and beats down resistance.

During demonstrations in the West Bank following the release of Palestinians held by Israel, many Palestinians waved Hamas flags or flags of other resistance groups. A long history of betrayals by the PA means that Palestinians living in the West Bank are seeking new leadership in their fight for liberation.

‘The ceasefire doesn’t mean peace in the West Bank, or in Gaza’

Mayar Derbashi, a charity worker who lives in the West Bank, told Socialist Worker that she thought the four-day ceasefire in Gaza was a “farce”.  “The ceasefire gives people a false sense of security for a brief period, only to strip away that safety afterwards,” she explained.

“During these four days, people in Gaza continue to experience displacement, homelessness and endure harsh conditions of cold and hunger.  “The humanitarian aid falls short for the two million Gazans, and empty shop shelves mean even those with money can’t survive.”

Mayar added that the situation in the West Bank has always been “dire”. “We have grown accustomed to its challenges. “However, after 7 October, the conditions intensified with more invasions and increased arrests,” she said. “Several women have been arrested for being active on social media. 

“These arrests give a glimpse of the heightened surveillance. There are additional restrictions and city closures. Passing through checkpoints now entails thorough searches of phones, including private messages and images. What we had before—which was routine invasions and daily checkpoint crossings—now seem like a blessing compared to the current heightened scrutiny.” 

Mayar explained that she was not surprised that the concept of a ceasefire won’t extend to the West Bank. “The West Bank situation has been consistently overlooked by officials and governments,” she said. “While people condemn the killing of Palestinians in Gaza, there appears to be acceptance or indifference towards them being killed in invasions or settler attacks in the West Bank.” 

Mayar added, “The ceasefire doesn’t mean peace for people in the West Bank or Gaza. What kind of peace can Gazans have while they’re sieged, displaced, and mourning the death of loved ones?” “And what kind of peace can we have in the West Bank when constantly surrounded by Israeli soldiers and settlers?” 

But Mayar thinks that protests and resistance across the world have made a difference. “Protests and media coverage played a big role in getting even a short ceasefire. It might not be what we wanted to achieve, but it’s a step in the long process,” she said.

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