Articles > > Hazarding A Comparison

Articles - Addostour - Date: 2020-08-25
By: Oraib Al Rantawi

It does not take much to hazard a comparison between the Lebanese resistance (Hezbollah) and the Palestinian resistance (Hamas and Islamic Jihad).
Both resistance movements arose to fight the occupation, both built upon past acts of resistance and national and secular resistance fighters, and both appeal to a religious/doctrinal authority and are officially dubbed 'Islamic resistance'. The former has successfully liberated most of its territory, while the latter has established a presence on a modest portion of its homeland that is formally liberated but effectively occupied and besieged.
In the Lebanese and Palestinian experiences, the resistance benefited from a somewhat 'stunted' Israeli expansionist appetite for South Lebanon and Southern Palestine. During its 18 years of occupation of South Lebanon [1982/2000], Israel did not establish a single settlement, while it only planted a small number of settlements and settlers in the Gaza Strip, which it has always wished would be swallowed up by the sea. In comparison to its voracious expansionist-colonialist appetite to devour Jerusalem and the West Bank, Israel's appetite for expansion in South Lebanon and the Gaza Strip seems quite meager.
Both resistance movements experienced a somewhat concurrent transition in their situations: In Lebanon, after the South's liberation in 2000 and especially after the 2006 war, the Lebanese resistance transitioned from the offensive to the defensive. Under the slogan 'balance of deterrence', its guns have maintained absolute silence. The Lebanese resistance still talks about liberating [Lebanese claimed] Shebaa Farms, Palestine, and Jerusalem, but it abides by the truce and UNSCR 1701, violating them only in response to blatant Israeli infractions (routine air patrol breaches among others). This situation has lasted for almost a decade-and-a-half, and may persist for many years to come, despite occasional 'calculated' moments of border tension.
In Palestine, since Operation Cast Lead (2008-2009) and especially after Operations Pillar of Defense (2012) and Protective Edge (2014), the Palestinian resistance, mainly represented by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, has transitioned to a theory of deterrence. The Gaza Strip is generally in a calm state, interrupted by moments of tension and escalation caused primarily by Hamas's urge to break free of grip of the unjust siege so as to salvage its de facto authority, and by Israel's keenness to perpetually reinforce its 'deterrent image'. The Palestinian resistance, like the Lebanese resistance, has transitioned from an offensive state, involving operations to attack and attrite Israeli forces and settlements, to defensive repose packaged in the slogan 'balance of deterrence', or as some like to call it, 'balance of terror.'
A similar situation seems to have been positive and favorable in other experiences a la Vietnam: North Vietnam had a 'deterrent force' under the protection of a Soviet/Chinese umbrella, while the Viet Cong carried out resistance operations in the South backed by the North's forces and political and military leadership. This situation is not currently replicated in Lebanon or Palestine today, unless anyone labors under the impression that Gaza and Ramallah are capable of playing the respective roles of Hanoi and Saigon, which is not an option, whether in the military, political, geographical, or strategic sense, given Palestinian or Israeli circumstances.
How can the resistance accomplish the mission it was created for: Liberation? It has constantly displayed willingness to commit to truce and agreements. It is pleased to transition to the defensive in lieu of the offensive and takes pride in 'mutual deterrence', although it is doubtful whether this theory is genuine, especially in the case of Palestine.
Does this entail relinquishing both 'resistance' and 'deterrence', or does such a situation dictate coming up with methods and tools of resistance to continue to keep the occupation busy and raise its cost? How can this be accomplished, and with what tools and scope?
These questions and inquiries are an integral part of our search for the Palestinian national salvation strategy that must be developed in order to contend with the new strategic phase of the Palestinian people's struggle for their freedom and rights.