“Every child in Palestine is a leader,” said Umm Qutaiba, sister of Saleh Al-Arouri, deputy head of the political bureau of Hamas, who was assassinated in Beirut last Tuesday. The lady was trying to empty Israel's excitement over killing her brother of its content, overcoming the pain of separation, the agony of loss, and the grief and regret of lamentation.
But this challenge is not devoid of truth – even if the whole matter seems to involve extreme exaggeration in the eyes of some, or appears to be an attempt to show coherence and despondency – this truth is built on three basic things, which are:
1 – The harsh social environment; The Palestinian child is born into a social environment burdened with grave challenges, created by the presence of the occupation, and nourished by adults’ stories about their difficult experiences. These circumstances do not allow him to slow down in living his childhood, so that it takes its normal course, but rather sets the stage towards worries and preoccupations that await young people and adults in other societies.
As his life experience intensifies, the Palestinian child finds that he is taken to endure, decide and choose, as if he were not a child, but rather he had to carry on his shoulders part of the weight of the cause of the people to which he belongs, and he learns to do this willingly, and without hesitation.
Chain of command
2- The inherited law of resistance; Societies that constitute an incubating environment for resistance groups, organizations, or factions make their children an integral part of this incubation, and even assign them roles in conveying messages and supplies at times, and they – at all times – are obligated to live as small resistors, or wait for them to take their place. When they grow up as boys. Their role is not limited to carrying weapons, but rather performing life roles that are indispensable for a resisting society, even if it is cultivating land, operating a workshop, teaching and educating, or filling souls with a love of struggle and stoking the willingness to sacrifice for the sake of freedom.
3 – The practices of secret or even public political organizations; These groups or factions raise their followers under a chain of command, and they take into account that their men are being hunted, they may be killed, imprisoned, or exiled and excluded from the scene, and they must make their human storehouse full of alternatives. If a person is absent, leaving a void, it will quickly be filled by another person. Else, he's all set for the day.
Organizations with religious ideologies are no exception to this rule. Rather, they practice it perhaps more than others, as their experience tells us, not only in Palestine, but also in all Islamic countries in which they existed, lived in danger, or engaged in severe challenges, because of their efforts to achieve Its objectives.
In the occupied Palestinian territories, the challenges increase, of course, for such organizations or factions, as they are targeted all the time, do not have a chance to catch their breath, and are required to continue relentless struggle work, and for their survival instinct to remain constantly vigilant, while they find great difficulties in mobilization and recruitment. .
There are three basic matters related to the ability of the Palestinian resistance to replace its leaders, or fill the void resulting from the loss of some of them. The first is that these organizations have become accustomed to the non-biological death of their leaders. They are not guaranteed to survive until they reach old age, as the hand of death can snatch them at any time, even if they are outside the occupied territories. By the long hand of the Israeli Air Force, they may not be killed, but they are taken to prisons and remain there for a long time, isolated from the field, in a state similar to death.
Israel has not stopped pursuing Palestinian leaders since the assassination of Ghassan Kanafani in Lebanon in 1972 until the killing of Al-Arouri, passing through many, such as: Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, Fathi Al-Shaqaqi, Abu Ali Mustafa, Hassan Salama, and Abdel Aziz Al-Rantisi. It even killed Yasser Arafat himself with poison. As many confirm, the Palestinian arena was immediately able to compensate and repair the cracks.
The second thing: is the abundance of exposure to the skills of acquiring leadership among the resistance movements. In addition to the training that takes place in this, the guerrilla warfare method followed by the resistance makes the individual equipped to make a decision, or issue an order for himself on the battlefield, and is not restricted – like a soldier in the army. Regular – with the orders that come to him from his direct command, which in turn has received them from a command above him.
As for the third matter: it is related to the age composition of those carrying out armed action, as they must all – or the overwhelming majority – be young people capable of fighting, and this youthful nature prevails among them, which gives them continuous opportunities to produce elements qualified to play leadership roles.
A long and arduous walk
The Palestinian resistance movements had to constantly supplement their lives with two types of leaders: The first: are field military leaders who emerge from the arduous training and strictest secrecy. The other: they are political leaders, with a margin of flexible discourse and relatively free movement, and they deal with the Palestinian interior in organizing and managing its affairs, and with the outside world, in terms of political representation, declaration of positions, and negotiation.
Pictures of these leaders are placed on the wall of the Palestinian struggle for some time, and people get used to their faces, but they wake up in the morning to find them gone, and here the question arises: Who can come after this, and compensate for the absence of this? Only hours pass until those wondering find a new face that has come out to them, appeared at them, and filled their eyes.
The resistance realizes that its path towards liberation is long and arduous, and therefore it behaves as airlines do in their flights, placing alongside the pilot a co-pilot who is no less competent, or who has the same ability to get the plane to the destination station if something bad happens to the original pilot. This becomes more necessary on very long trips.
Of course, all healthy societies, and states when they are strong, have the ability to produce alternatives, including administrative, political and military leaders, and even in the economy and culture, but this with the resistance factions, and at any time or place, differs on two issues: The first: Leadership is – in most cases – a thing of love and not a gain, especially for military or security leaders, who must put their lives on their hands at all times. The second: The pace of replacement and replacement of leadership among the resistors is faster.
All of this does not mean that the resistance does not lose due to the killing or absence of some of its leaders, especially the smart, brave prophets among them, but this is part of its destiny, which it believes in, and can even benefit it on many occasions. Because the killing – as horrific as it is – gives its leaders an opportunity to prove that their fate is no different from the fate of members of the communities that embrace the resistance, and that their blood is not purer than the blood of those who support them and depend on them.
Al-Arouri was martyred at a time when the voices of those who criticize the resistance are rising by saying: Its leaders are safe, spending their lives comfortably living in hotels in foreign countries, while the people of Gaza are consuming a raging fire. The assassination came as a response to these voices, especially since Al-Arouri himself spoke – before his death – that his killing in forced exile is possible, and he expects it, and is not afraid. From him, like the rest of the Palestinian people under occupation in Gaza and the West Bank.
For all this, the assassination of Al-Arouri does not represent a huge gain for Israel that it can market as the difficult and elusive victory it seeks to achieve in Gaza, or as the cover with which it can cover up its army’s shamelessness, which has increased since the outbreak of the “Al-Aqsa Flood” on October 7. 2023.