How the Israeli ‘Civil War’ is effecting the lives of Palestinians, and their efforts for equality

Since January, Israel has been split in two. The Middle Eastern country has been experiencing seven months of intense protest from citizens in opposition to the government’s recent passing of new ‘anti-democratic’ legislation. Hundreds of thousands of Israeli’s have taken to the streets in opposition to the President, Benjamin Netanyahu’s, movement of power away from the Judicial Supreme Court, towards his already extremely powerful Executive branch of Government. Many fear that this shift in power is the beginning of the country turning towards a dictatorship, and protests between the Pro-Netanyahu far-right, and anti-legislation campaigners have often become extremely violent. The solidification of this legislation and reduction of democracy in Israel would be disastrous for Israeli citizens, but would be a nightmare for Palestinians who already have such little power in their own country. Coinciding with these recent protests that began in January, there have been attacks on Palestinians almost every day this year, threatening to completely destroy the frequently ignored peace brokered in the West Bank 30 years ago.

Violence towards Palestinians has become more frequent, but also more extreme. The Palestinian city, and current refugee camp, of Jenin saw the Israeli army invade at the beginning of July. An unprecedented attack in the area, which has seen a firefight between the Israeli army and Palestinian militia and the use of airstrikes in the West Bank for the first time in 20 years. Since the attack on Jenin, a city that Israeli officials described as a “refuge for terrorism,” Itamar Ben-Gvir, the Israeli Public Security Minister, has been pushing for a second military strike; this time on the entire West Bank. This attack on Jenin has not gone without a response as it is suspected that retaliation was the motivation for a car and knife attack in Tel Aviv that injured seven Israelis.

In the last few weeks, it seems that after seven months, the anti-legislation protests may be beginning to die down. During an interview on the 31st July, President Netanyahu stressed that “there won’t be a civil war,” calling it a “guarantee.” However in contrast to this, former Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, has called the protests a “serious threat,” and when referencing the scale of the protest movement, said “it’s never happened before and we are going into a civil war now.” With an increase in attacks on Palestinians, this ‘new’ anti-democracy Israel will be no better for the everyday lives of Palestinians, and less likely to deliver a peaceful solution to their conflict.

Whatever the outcome, Israel being so close to a move away from democracy is worrying. The prospect of a militaristic nation with nuclear weapons entering a post-civil war dictatorship has many negative implications for neighbouring middle-eastern countries, and the entire global political landscape. However, for Palestinians looking for independence, and an end to apartheid, the current state of affairs are bleak. Even if the more moderate, democratic, side of Israel were to prevail over Netanyahu, returning things to ‘normal’, then the Palestinians would still be living in an apartheid state. Whilst other nations and groups such as the US, EU and UK still advocate for peace and a ‘two-party state’, they have done very little to stop the blatant apartheid or the moves against democracy in the country.

According to UN Human Rights experts, in the 55 of its 75 year old history, Israel has been an apartheid state. During this time, Palestinians have been treated like second class citizens; subject to war crimes, land annexations, unlawful killings, detentions, torture, forced transfer, the denial of nationality and citizenship, and without the right to freedom of movement. With so many years of turbulence between Israel and Palestine, and now between two different factions within Israel, the path to an end of the conflict will not be quick or easy. This is especially the case, as it is likely that Netanyahu’s far right will come out on top against those protesting against him. For Palestinians, a normal life, where their civil rights are recognised in their own country, seems worryingly far away. Whatever the resolution is, in order to break the cycle of violence, it must be obtained in a peaceful and democratic fashion.