My name is Sohaib. I was born in the City of Hebron, or al-Khalil, as my people call it. During the riots of 1929 when Palestinian Muslims attacked the Jews of Hebron, my grandfather hid his Jewish neighbours in his home, protecting them from the massacre. With a family he loved and a land he believed in, my grandfather did not need to resort to violence. He had too much hope for the future.
Since the days of my grandfather, Palestine has changed. Palestine is a young society, 35% of us are between 15 and 30 years of age, and another 40% are under 14. This new generation, born after the Oslo Accords, lives a life deprived of the one thing they most desire: dignity. They are a generation born after the First Intifada, a non-violent resistance movement, to which Israel responded by enacting severe policies to subdue Palestine, policies that continue to this day.
Today's Palestinian youth have endured toxic Israeli policies their entire lives. Their childhood was traumatized by strictures and persecution, by constant suspicion and infractions against their basic human rights.
Even a visit to the sea, so close in distance, is not allowed. They have witnessed the confiscation of land, the ongoing mass construction of Israeli settlements, and the suppression of Palestine during the Second Intifada (2000-2005). With each of these, they feel their freedom—and their dignity—further compromised.
Israel failed to take into consideration the toll this policy of persecution would take on their civilians. The Palestinian youth are a new Palestinian generation, one which carries inside it the bitterness of ongoing history. They will not easily forget how Israel humiliated their fathers, keeping them in chains.
But it's not only Israel who has betrayed the Palestinian youth. The huge disappointment in the Palestinian Authority (PA), established as result of the Oslo Accords, served only to further alienate the Palestinian people. Instead of developing health and education infrastructures, PA officials embezzled millions of dollars.
The PA failed to invest in the future of the Palestinian youth, failed to create a development strategy to improve the lives of the next generation. The PA implemented programs in public schools and universities that inhibit the ambitions and culture of the youth causing the creation of a new Palestinian disconnected from their sense of self.
The PA's ongoing failures in ruling the West Bank and Gaza strip caused a civil war in 2006 between the two main factions Hamas and Fatah.
Rather than fighting for the Palestinian people and ruling justly, the PA security services in Gaza and the West Bank aid Israel in oppressing us, raiding the houses of activists resisting the occupation. The Palestinian police operates only under permission of the Israeli Army, and goes so far as informing Israeli security services about the movements of Palestinian activists.
The PA's coordination with the Israeli security services has undermined the trust between the PA and the Palestinian people. From allowing the Israeli army to raid the Palestinian areas under PA control, to arresting and torturing Palestinian activists, the PA has failed to uphold the dignity of our people.
The Palestinian youth, born after the First Intifada, live lives with no dignity in the present, and no hope for their future. This generation has a new language, new mannerisms, new roles of conduct, a new code to connect and communicate. Inspired by the bitterness which pervades their lives, they find understanding only with each other.
In their despair, with nothing to live for, they find their only expression to be creating a fear of knives. By instilling the fear of a stabbing amongst Israelis, they fight back as a reactive revenge for all that they have endured during their lifetime.
Like my grandfather before me, I do not support the murder of any civilians. But we must understand the source of the new trend of stabbings against Israelis by Palestinians.
It is a reaction against the Occupation, an attempt to give an unforgettable lesson to both Israel and the Palestinian Authority, delivered by a youth desperate for rights, freedom, and dignity, with nothing to live for.
Sohaib Zahda is a Palestinian activist and member of the Youth Against Settlements group that opposes Israeli settlements in Hebron and the wider West Bank