JENIN, West Bank, Aug 30 (Reuters/Tom Perry) - For Mahmoud Assadi, the Intifada
has only just finished. Released by Israel
a few months ago, the former fighter says this is the time for Palestinians to recover from their last uprising, not launch a new one.
He was imprisoned in 2002 when the Intifada was raging in the occupied West Bank
. A leading figure in the Islamic Jihad
group, he proudly recalls being among the last fighters to surrender to Israeli forces in the Battle of Jenin
, one of the fiercest chapters of the uprising.
Assadi, 31, was released five months ago into a very different West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority
of President Mahmoud Abbas
is opposed to military conflict with Israel and has established a tight grip on security.
He is scornful of Abbas's decision to resume negotiations with Israel. Negotiations have only served as cover for Israel to deepen its control of Palestinian land, he said.
If they don't reach an agreement that secures dignity for this nation, a third, fourth, fifth and sixth Intifada will erupt, he said. But it needs time.
Assadi is still a member of Islamic Jihad -- a group ideologically committed to fighting Israel.
But like the Islamist Hamas
movement, which controls the Gaza Strip
, Islamic Jihad calculates that taking up arms in the West Bank now would do it more harm than good.
Everyone knows what the situation is. Nobody is allowed to think of resisting or taking up arms or anything like it, he said. If any faction takes any action, they (Palestinian security forces) will come after them, Assadi said. Even the people will say 'Those people do not want a solution'.
Our activities are frozen, he said. So let the people take a break. They're flesh and blood, at the end of the day.
Outside his family's simple home in the narrow streets of Jenin refugee camp
, a stone memorial honours two of Assadi's brothers and two nephews killed fighting Israel. Posters show him with an M-16 assault rifle. He lists seven brothers and a sister also imprisoned by Israel.
Having spent most of the last decade behind bars, Assadi talks of 10 years of Intifada. The violence, which erupted when peace talks collapsed in 2000, largely abated five years ago.
Let the people themselves see what the future will bring, he says. After that, they will be the ones to rise up.