Focusing on punishment and imprisonment across three time periods, this essay explores the two-pronged attack on Palestinian politics that has characterized the settler-colonial project in Palestine over the past one hundred years. This double move entails an attempt to deny or destroy Palestinian political community, while simultaneously identifying Palestinians as political actors, specifically as bad actors. The aim is to undermine Palestinian political capacity by disrupting connection and organizing, while still deploying the weapon of categorizing Palestinians, individually and collectively, as enemies—under labels such as insurgents, terrorists, and enemy combatants. The struggle over elimination in Palestine has continued through multiple changes in governing regime and across territorial reconfigurations. The different tactics deployed against Palestinians over these decades are a product both of these changes and of the continuing Palestinian refusal to acquiesce to their elimination.

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