PLO And The Iron-Fist Policy

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was founded in 1964 for liberating Palestine. The modus operandi decided was armed struggle and the violence was towards the civilians of Israel. PLO is given a legitimate status and over 100 states have diplomatic relations with this organization as they acknowledge this as the only representation of the Palestinians. PLO got the observers status in the UN, however it was declared as a terrorist outfit by the US and Israel in the Madrid Conference held in 1991. In 1993 PLO agreed to stay away from terrorism and violence and accepted the UN Security Council’s decision to allow Israel’s right to exist. In response to this Israel accepted PLO as the organisation that represented the people of Palestine. Meanwhile in these years and even after that the policy to rule with an iron-fist was put into place.

Role of David Gurion | Hebrew Resistance Movement

Founding and Ideology of PLO

The Arab League met in Cairo in 1964 and decided to form an organization for the Palestinian people. The National Council met on 28th May, 1964 and finalised this plan to start PLO which stated that its goals would be achieved through violence. A charter came into place but there was reference to any religion. Palestinians felt that they were expelled from their land by the Zionist on the pretext of forming a Jewish state. They wanted the Palestinians refugees to be taken back into the Jewish state. PLO was not willing to divide the land and did accept the validity of historical and religious ties of Jews with Palestine. Though there were no religious references in the charter PLO labelled the Palestinians as Arabs. That this happened was no surprise as PLO was really an off shoot of Arab League.

There were many factions in the PLO. The most dominating one was the Fatah which was secular while the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) were religious oriented. But there was a predominance of Muslims and in that it was mostly Sunni Muslims. There were about 4.6 million Christians too. The biggest issue was that a vast diaspora of Palestinians were living in Israel. In 2003 Palestinian Authority which was dominated by Fatah took up officially Islam as it religion and Islamic sharia became the source for its legislation. However Hamas were not given membership.

Iron Fist Policy

Israel captured Sinai Peninsula, West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem from Egypt and Jordan in 1967 in the Six-Day War. There was growing frustration amongst the Palestinians who were living in the state of Israel. Israel adopted an Iron Fist policy in 1985 to put the Palestinians in place. The stringent measures were used in many areas of administration.

  • A rocket was fired by a terror group and it hit the city of Sederot. The Israeli Defense Forces responded to the rocket attack by bombing many times Hamas military targets. But there were no causalities, at least nothing was reported.
  • However five Palestinian Arabs were wounded.
  • New stricter rules were introduced to keep Palestinians at bay.
  • IDF kept many check points to arrest perpetuators of knife Jihad. Individual terrorists were easily captured.
  • Villages were closed after terror attacks and curfews were imposed on villages and towns that were responsible for the knife attacks on Israeli civilians.
  • Carrot Stick Policy was introduced where the IDF punished Arabs who supported terrorists and made life easy for those Arabs who chose to exist peacefully with the Israelis.
  • Palestinian Media within Israel were monitored and cracked down when they supported the terrorist.
  • IDF were advised to show no tolerance of the attack by Hamas or Palestinians.
  • Communication between Israel and Palestinian officials was kept in check.
  • Economic sanctions were enforced.
  • In short any sign of discontentment was seen as a terrorist activity and were put down heavily. There were mass killings, house demolitions, deportations, extrajudicial killings and so on.

Uprisings caused by the Iron Fist Policy

The Iron Fist Policy of Israel caused a lot of unrest but there were no public demonstrations. But after two years the Palestinians in Israel decided to show their protest. The first uprising which is called the First Intifada was between December 1987 and 1993 and the Second Intifada was from 2000 to 2005. Though there was discontentment the immediate cause for the first Intifada was when an Israeli army tank transporter ran into Jabalya refugee camp injuring seven and killing four people. This camp was in the Gaza Strip. An Israeli had been stabbed to death two days earlier there, and the Palestinians felt that this truck incident was not an accident but a planned retaliation.

The protests against the Iron Fist Policy were peaceful in the beginning and the Israelis also participated in this. It signalled the emergence of an opposition which was organized. Around 50,000 Jews marched under the banner of antiwar Peace Group. Around 7000 Arabs also held a peaceful rally earlier on the same day in support of their Jewish brethren. “The hard fist, the harder fist, the iron fist — where has it gotten us?” asked Peace Now leader Tzali Rehsef. “We have come here tonight in our tens of thousands to say no. We are not here to appease our consciences. We fought against Lebanon, and they got us out of Lebanon.” There were many Israeli soldiers who were unhappy with the task given to them, the task of putting down the Palestinians. There were boycotts on Israeli products, general strikes, graffiti, refusal to pay taxes and barricades. However there were some youngsters who used stone-throwing as their mark of protest and this was considered as a violent act against the Israeli Defence Force.

What started as a peaceful protest against the iron fist policy of Israel slowly became violent protests. These protests were different in that the Jews and the Arabs in Israel were coexisting peacefully and both together protested against the government and IDF. When the protests became violent, not only did a few factions in Jews and Arabs turn against each other, there were killings amongst the groups as well. So many Arabs in Palestine lost their lives because of the extremists Arabs and the same was true for the Jews as well.