Israel fearful of another Intifada in West Bank

February 16, 2022 - 19:3

TEHRAN – Palestine is fraught with danger. This is the conclusion of an assessment compiled by a top Israeli commander on the situation in Palestine. 

The well-known Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem (al-Quds) has been a scene of clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians since Sunday. The fresh wave of clashes began when far-right Knesset member Itamar Ben Gvir, accompanied by dozens of Jewish settlers, broke into the neighborhood to set up a parliamentary office there. 

A member of the far-right Religious Zionism party, Ben Gvir contributed to inflaming the situation, according to Israeli media. He made a “substantial contribution” to erupting clashes in the neighborhood, a police source told Israeli broadcaster Channel 12.

Since Sunday, there have been violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in Sheikh Jarrah. 

The latest wave of Israeli crackdown against Palestinians comes against a backdrop of renewed Israeli violence in the West Bank. 

Earlier this month, a Palestinian elderly died in Israeli custody. He was detained by Israeli troops at a checkpoint in the West Bank and was later found dead.  An autopsy conducted by three Palestinian doctors found that the man died of cardiac arrest after a stress-induced heart attack resulting from “external violence,” according to the Associated Press.

Earlier on Tuesday, a Palestinian young man from the village of Kafr Ein, north of Ramallah was shot dead by the Israeli army at the entrance to the village of Al-Nabi Saleh.

On February 8, an Israeli force assassinated three Palestinians in the Al-Makhfieh neighborhood in Nablus after shooting at a Palestinian vehicle they were traveling in.
On Wednesday, Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian herders in the Bethlehem-area village of Kisan, south of the West Bank, and let their dogs loose to attack their sheep, according to WAFA news agency.

Israeli attacks against Palestinians have seen a sharp increase over the last year, according to Israeli media. Anti-Palestinian violence committed by disaffected young Israelis increased by 50% in 2021, the Times of Israel said.

Independent institutions also reported a rise in Israel’s demolition of Palestinian properties.  The Office of the European Union Representative in Jerusalem said that demolitions carried out by the Israeli occupation authorities in the West Bank in 2021 reached a 5-year high.

In its One Year Report on Demolitions and Seizures in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, covering the period from 1 January until 31 December 2021, it said that a total of 904 structures were demolished and 1,205 people were displaced in 2021, including 650 children.

The Israeli measures and attacks against Palestinians caused a great furor in the West Bank, with some Palestinian cities and towns staging strikes.

The tense situation was not lost on the Israelis themselves. An Israeli security assessment has warned of an explosive situation in the Palestinian territories at the beginning of the upcoming month of Ramadan. The document is a message sent by Israeli commander in the West Bank Avi Bluth and was published by the official Kan channel on Tuesday evening. “The ignition materials are already there, it's only missing a match to ignite the whole area,” the Israeli commander said, according to an Al-Arabi Al-Jadeed report.

He added, “The deadline - the beginning of the month of Ramadan. This is a goal for the Israeli forces, as they are supposed to be ready.”

He pointed out that “the next escalation will be different from the previous ones.”

The Israeli government is also afraid of the deteriorating situation in the Sheikh Al-Jarrah neighborhood, and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is looking for calm, according to Israeli media.

Israeli media reported that Bennett “is working to stop the deterioration in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood so that the situation does not descend into a battle.”

The fear in the Israeli security establishment of a security escalation in the Palestinian areas is real, Al-Mayadeen reported, citing Israeli media outlets. 

The statement of the Israeli prime minister comes after sources revealed to Al-Mayadeen that the Hamas movement held talks with the Egyptians about the recent Israeli attacks in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

The sources said that Hamas informed the Egyptian side that what is happening is an "escalation of danger that cannot be tolerated," and that the occupation government is "playing with fire again."

Hamas confirmed that the expulsion of Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood is a "red line that the resistance knows how to respond to." In turn, the Palestinian factions confirmed that they "will not leave the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood alone."

Mushir al-Masry, a Hamas leader, confirmed to Al-Mayadeen that “Escalation begets escalation. This equation was imposed by the Palestinian resistance.”

Of note, the latest round of war between Israel and the Gaza Strip took place largely due to an Israeli decision to evict Palestinian families from their homes in the neighborhood.

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