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E. V.A.3. Palestine

The creation of Israel in 1948 (and the expulsion of many Palestinians from their land) left Palestinians without political representation and subordinate to the conflicting goals of the Arab states and Israel. Organized independent guerrilla resistance began to emerge by 1965, but Palestinian political consciousness grew after the 1967 Arab Israeli war, which ended with the Israeli occupation of the remaining Palestinian areas of previously Arab Palestine – Gaza, the West Bank of the Jordan river (previously controlled by Jordan) and Jerusalem.

Palestinian resistance is often associated with the well-publicized guerrilla tactics of groups such as Al Fatah, headed by Yasser Arafat, which drew recruits from the refugee camps and put the Palestinian cause on the world’s map from the late 1960s. But Palestinians inside the occupied territories did begin to resist in various ways the imposition of Israeli control and the taking of their land for Israeli settlements. The most effective internal opposition began in 1987 and continued into the early 1990s, though it had begun to flag by 1990. In combination with other developments in Arab and international politics, this campaign led to Israel entering into negotiations for the creation of an independent Palestinian state. This (first) ‘Intifada’ – literally ‘shaking off’ – was a mass movement of active civil resistance involving old and young, men and women, and using a range of nonviolent methods, including mass boycotts, as well as increasing self-organization through popular committees, for instance on health. Stone-throwing, often by children, is perhaps the dominant international image of the intifada, but the movement avoided use of firearms. It demonstrated not only Palestinian solidarity and determination, but the existence of an autonomous people asserting their rights. It drew international criticism of Israeli repression, and enabled the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), then based in Tunis, to enter into negotiation with Israel. These resulted in a historic Declaration of Principles in 1993 and the so-called Oslo peace process, which was undermined by increasing Israeli settlements and de facto Israeli economic and military control.

Useful overviews of Palestinian resistance, and specifically the role of nonviolent action, from the early 20th century to the present are:

D'Aprile, Futura, For a Different Hebron, New Internationalist,, 2020, pp. 60-61

This article discusses the work of Youth Against Settlements, which opposes Israeli settlements in this Palestinian city in the West Bank, and describes the range of nonviolent tactics used by them, such as documenting human rights abuses, legal action and direct action. D'Aprile also meets with other civil society organizations, which are involved in community work, including the Christian Peacemaker Team organizer who supports Palestinian-led grass roots resistance to the occupation.

Darweish, Marwan ; Rigby, Andrew, Popular Protest in Palestine: The Uncertain Future of Unarmed Resistance, London, Pluto Press, 2015, pp. 215

Two experts on Palestine examine the history of Palestinian political resistance to the creation of the state of Israel from the late 19th century to 1939, and provide a balnced assessment of the phases of primarily unarmed popular resistance to Isreali domination. They cover the First Intifada and (after the mainly armed resistance of the Second Intifada) the growth of nonviolent forms of protest since the building of the Separation Wall in 2005. 

Norman, Julie, Beyond Hunger Strikes: The 'Palestinian Prisoners’ Movement and Everyday Resistance, Journal of Resistance Studies, Vol. 6, issue 1, 2020, pp. 40-68

Studies how the focal points of resistance by prisoners, hunger strikes, are made possible by longer term lower key strategies. These included  encouraging forms of communication between prisoners, development of  political education, and by less dramatic acts of ‘everyday’ noncooperation, for example with strip searches or some prison routines. The article is based on interviews with former Palestinian prisoners in the West Bank and some interviews with lawyers and NGOs supporting prisoners.

Pearlman, Wendy, Violence, Nonviolence, and the Palestinian National Movement, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2011, pp. 304

Qumsiyeh, Mazin, Popular Resistance in Palestine: A History of Hope and Empowerment, London, Pluto Press, 2010, pp. 304

Rigby, Andrew, Palestinian Resistance and Nonviolence, Jerusalem, PASSIA – Palestine Academy for Study of International Affairs, 2010, pp. 80

See also:

Scott Kennedy, The Druze of the Golan: A Case of Nonviolent Resistance, Journal of Palestine Studies, 1984, Account widely reprinted (including in both Crow, Ralph E.; Grant, Philip ; Ibrahim, Saad E., Arab Nonviolent Political Struggle in the Middle East Boulder CO, Lynne Rienner, , 1990, pp. 129 , and Stephan, Civilian Jihad: Nonviolent Struggle, Democratization, and Governance in the Middle East (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements) , (above) of the (Syrian) Druze resistance to incorporation into Israel after the occupation of the Golan Heights in 1967.
Jawad Botmed, Civil Resistance in Palestine: The village of Battir in 1948, Coventry, Coventry University, 2006, MA dissertation by grandson of leader of village’s resistance to incorporation into Israel.