Palestinians with Israeli citizenship are often treated as second class citizens, and their anger may be reaching a boiling point.

A resistance is rising among Palestinians, and it's not from the usual quarters. Israeli aggression following the forced expulsion of Palestinians from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of occupied East Jerusalem has inspired Palestinians to rise in solidarity after years of disunity. 

In short, a combination of illegal settlement activity, a violent Israeli raid on al-Aqsa Mosque where Palestinians had gathered to insulate themselves from encroachment, the forced expulsions of Palestinians from their homes, and the violent suppression of protests has escalated to the point where Israel is relentlessly bombing Gaza in what they call a 'response' to Hamas 'rocket' fire. The rocket fire, by the way, was a response to 300 Palestinians being wounded by Israeli forces inside the third holiest site in Islam, al-Aqsa. 

Israel has since declared an emergency in three cities, and that is where our story of a new resistance starts.

We spoke to some Palestinians in Israel – or Palestinians with Israeli citizenship – to ask them what they've been going through.

It's important to keep in mind that several Palestinians were threatened with consequences on Tuesday by Israeli intelligence through text messages for their 'violent' actions at al-Aqsa, and as a result, they spoke to TRT World under pseudonyms.

Mazen Majdoub, 32, took part in the protests, and lives in Jaffa (Yaffa in Arabic) and says there is a groundswell of anger that has been simmering for some time now. 

"My generation who lived through the Second Intifada broke the barriers of our parents living under military law in the 50s and 60s. And the new one (generation) is even more fearless."

Majdoub says there is also an internal political dimension to what is happening and says that many people, both Arabs and Jews, blame Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for escalating the situation. But it has backfired and instead created more divisions internally.

A firefighter tries to put out a fire as a car belonging to Jewish settlers burns amid tension over the possible expulsion of several Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem, May 6, 2021.
A firefighter tries to put out a fire as a car belonging to Jewish settlers burns amid tension over the possible expulsion of several Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem, May 6, 2021. (AP)

Netanyahu has not been able to form a stable government for years and Israel has had four elections in just two years. But the Israelis managed to sign the Abraham Accords with a number of Arab countries which has alleviated any pressure that was left on Israel from some of its closest neighbours.

And thanks to factionalism, a debilitating blockade of Gaza, a carte blanche from the US and the international community, Israel has managed to proliferate illegal settlement activity unimpeded – until now.

Majdoub says that the anger has risen to a boiling point in 'mixed cities' like Lod (Lyd) and Acre (Akka), where Arabs live in ghettos. He says people have been "treated badly" by the police and the state for years. "Now they are protesting without fear, burning police stations and police cars."

That same anger was palpable after the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes in Jerusalem, which came after an Israeli court ruled that a number of houses in Sheikh Jarrah were built on land owned by Jewish religious associations before the formation of Israel in 1948. 

But the reality is that that court should have no jurisdiction over East Jerusalem, and the Palestinians in it, because the area is under Israeli occupation according to international law. Palestinians have appealed the decision in Israel's Supreme Court but a verdict has been delayed, presumably because of the escalating violence.

To serve and protect?

Videos of Israeli police have been making the rounds since Monday, showing them clearly taking sides in protests. 

Another Palestinian with Israeli citizenship, Maya Masri, says that when it comes to Arab populated cities in Israel like Tayibe, Tira and Qalansawe, the police are nowhere to be found when things are being destroyed. 

Israeli settlers have been violently removing Palestinians from their homes with the support of Israeli police (as they are referred to, some are reportedly special forces) – and members of the Israeli government have been cheering on the so-called evictions as well as the violence meted out to Palestinian protesters.

"The streets are completely destroyed, not one policeman came or showed up. They said because their own streets and property are being vandalised, the police and government won't address them. There is fear."

A Palestinian protester confronts a Jewish settler in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of occupied East Jerusalem May 5, 2021.
A Palestinian protester confronts a Jewish settler in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of occupied East Jerusalem May 5, 2021. (AP)

An Israeli Telegram group has been formed, named 'Civilian Army' with the aim to attack Arabs. The group claims that the state has abandoned them although several reports show police siding with Jewish Israelis in the so-called clashes in occupied East Jerusalem. 

Now when it comes to protection for Palestinians, both living within Israel or living in Gaza or the occupied West Bank, the situation is a lot murkier. Hamas' retaliation to Israeli violence has not been welcomed by some Palestinians who feel it is counterproductive.

Majdoub says, "there was also a 'resentment' of some people against the missiles, because the popular revolution in Jerusalem was a victory after a victory.”

History teaches us that a disproportionate response by Israel should be expected if rockets are fired from Gaza into Israel, and history has repeated itself resulting in the deaths of 53 people including 14 children. The UN has warned of a 'full-scale war' – something that the people of Gaza will bear the brunt of if it becomes reality. 

Israelis are largely insulated in these conflicts relative to their Palestinian counterparts and Masri says many Jewish Israelis in her neighbourhood are completely unaffected by what is happening in their country. 

"And others in Yaffa are laughing, watching, and somewhere drinking beer in a pub and watching the rockets, most don't care. They've become comfortably numb. They believe those who should be attacked are the settlers in Jerusalem, not Israeli citizens (in cities formed since 1948)."

This is of course not the case for Palestinians living in Israel, and if the last few days are anything to go by, the Israeli state may have to contend with a resistance from within.

"Anyhow, it's been building for years, everywhere. In the end, the Palestinian people inside West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza, unite," says Majdoub.