- - Thursday, April 21, 2016

HEBRON, West Bank — Abu Saleh owns a supermarket near an Israeli military camp in this city divided between his fellow Palestinians and ever-rising numbers of Israeli settlers.

He has been caught between the two sides a lot lately.

“When I start hearing bullets and smelling tear gas, the first thing I think about are my six kids,” he said. “I start calling them one by one. I want to know that they are in a safe place. I close my supermarket. I cannot bear the tear gas and go home to stay with my kids.”

But in his living room, as Palestinians clash with Israel Defense Forces outside, the 50-year-old grocer faces another challenge. “While I am home, I try to be very close to my kids,” Mr. Saleh said. “I teach them that there are different ways of resistance.”

For many Palestinians, the mood during these in-house lessons is increasingly strained.

For more than a year, Palestinian youths have stabbed, thrown firecrackers and stones, and firebombed Israeli settlers and soldiers in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Israeli forces, in turn, have killed and arrested many of their young antagonists.

Sometimes called the Third Intifada, the current violence has not been as spectacular as Palestinian uprisings in the late 1980s and mid-2000s. But the heavy participation of young people over the objections of older Palestinians, including Palestinian Authority leaders who are ostensibly trying to reach a long-sought peace deal with Israeli leaders, is a dynamic that illustrates how deep-seated rage and frustration have taken hold of a rising generation of Palestinians — to the concern of their parents.

“It is a popular anger mostly from youths who have no choice in this country, no life,” said Abu Youssef, 41, a Hebron University art professor and a father of three.

Top leaders on both sides of the conflict appear to see the spate of violence as something different from the past, one dominated by young “lone-wolf” attackers and not directed by any of the major Palestinian factions.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in December attributed the attacks to “the despair of young Palestinians over the lack of a political horizon for the two-state solution,” as well as the daily reality of expanding Jewish settlements and military checkpoints.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said his country is facing a new kind of terrorism with no obvious leader and the Internet and social media serving as prime recruiting and organizing tools. “We’re acting to fight this terror, and I have no doubt that we will prevail over it,” he said.

The upshot for Palestinian parents is the same for mothers and fathers everywhere. They are worried sick about their children.

“We live away from any point of clashes with the Israeli soldiers,” said Dalal Asfour, a housewife with two sons and five daughters. “But every morning, when I prepare my kids to go to their school, I start praying to God to protect them and come back safe to me. Life is not safe at all.”

Worried parents

Mr. Saleh, like many other parents in the West Bank, said he doesn’t want his children to become involved in the resistance.

“Those kids die for doing nothing — they throw stones or stab Israelis who are armed and can easily shoot them dead,” Mr. Saleh said. “We have to teach those kids the right way of resistance. This is better than losing our children locked up as prisoners, where they are dehumanized or killed.”

But some, like Ms. Asfour, disagree.

While she agonized over her children when they walked out the door, she understood why their peers were taking up arms and why they seemed unwilling to take the counsel of their elders.

Ms. Asfour has little confidence in the Palestinian Authority under Mr. Abbas, an 80-year-old who is still in office after the end of his official term in 2009.

Mr. Abbas recently told Israeli television that the Palestinian Authority was on the “brink of collapse” and depended on cooperation with Israel to maintain security in the occupied territories.

“Israeli soldiers and settlers kill, hit and threaten people in Hebron and everywhere,” Ms. Asfour said. “The Palestinian Authority does nothing. The solution to the conflict seems blocked. So it’s now the role of youths and other people, not any authority, to decide the way of solving this conflict. What was taken by force can be restored only by force.”

Mr. Youssef is conflicted. He wants to protect his children. He also wants them to become active members of society, and he wants them to be independent thinkers who make up their own minds.

“It is so hard to teach classes when suddenly hearing that there is another martyr — the first thing that comes to my mind is my children,” the professor said. “Parents should discuss these issues with their children and try to know what they are thinking, or motivated by in this tough situation, in order to advise them and protect them.”

During his conversations with his children, he said, he has been pragmatic.

“I don’t want my kids to spend their time in jail or to be killed for throwing stones or trying to stab an Israeli,” he said.

Israeli forces fatally shot Jihad Arshad’s two children, Uday and Danie, last year. Uday, 24, was accused of trying to stab a soldier in northern Hebron. Danie, 17, died near the Tomb of the Patriarchs, a holy site in Hebron revered as the burial place of Abraham, father of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim religions. Israeli solders said she had a knife.

“The current situation is a Third Intifada,” said Mr. Arshad, 50. “Although the parties aren’t united, people are united by participating in this intifada. They are united by sacrificing for their country away from any parties’ agenda.”

He depended on his son, Uday, a baker, to help support the family of 10.

“I am not sad about my children; they are in a better place now,” said Mr. Arshad. “But, I am worried about our life now. It is getting harder.”

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