JERUSALEM—Defying the prevailing mood on the Palestinian street and the position of the Palestinian leadership, a growing number of Palestinian intellectuals and journalists have begun to speak out in local media against “the culture of death” fueling the current “mini-intifada” on the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Condemning in particular the involvement of children wielding knives against soldiers and others in what amount to suicide attacks, the protestors said the phenomenon is an aberration that Palestinian society must address.
“We must not bring our children into the cycle of violence,” wrote Hafez Al-Barghouti, a former newspaper editor and a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council. “We should keep our children away from areas of conflict so they can experience their childhood.”
Children as young as 12 have been involved in knifing incidents. Most of the knife wielders during the unrest of the past four months have been teenagers.
In an article in a West Bank newspaper, Sawt Al-Nisa, journalist Mohammed Daraghmeh addressed young militants. “Do not march towards death. You may rage, rebel and take to the streets. You can block roads, shout and make your voices heard by a deaf world. But do not die. The homeland needs you alive.”
The comments were gathered by MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute), which monitors the media in the region.
Twenty-five Israelis have been killed in “lone wolf” attacks during the past four months and many more wounded, mostly by knifing but also by vehicles driven at pedestrians. More than 100 Palestinians have been killed.
Several protestors took aim on their Facebook pages at leaders of Palestinian organizations who applaud the self-sacrifice of children whom they hail as martyrs. “Let those who cause children to reach this state show themselves,” wrote journalist Amid Dwaikat. “Let them show us their own children. What resorts are they vacationing in? Do not call for continuation of these attacks while you sit safely in your office.”
Several protestors said the Palestinian cause was losing ground in the world because of the current violence, and not only that which involves children. “The world will resolve the Palestinian problem only if we maintain the humane character of our national struggle,” wrote Daraghmeh. “The world will not accept stabbing and vehicular attacks against civilians, just as it opposed suicide attacks.”
A number expressed fear that the violence is arbitrarily labeled “terror” and lumped together in the minds of people abroad with terror acts like those perpetrated in Paris and elsewhere by Islamic State. “We must keep a low profile so as to avoid being associated with the crimes of ISIS and its ilk,” wrote Barghouti. “The struggle must wait for the right circumstances and for men (not boys). We must not lose control and must preserve the essence of the Palestinian cause.”
Some writers said that attacks on Israeli civilians should be avoided to avoid linkage to the global terror perpetuated by ISIS. “Our struggle,” wrote columnist Hamada Fara’na in the daily Al-Ayyam, “must be the complete opposite of the Islamic terrorism of Al-Qaeda and ISIS.”
Israeli security officials say that in recent day the number of attacks has diminished.