What’s Driving the Latest Spiral of Israeli-Palestinian Violence: NPR
TEL AVIV, Israel — What is often summed up as the “cycle of violence” in Jerusalem and the West Bank has suddenly reached levels not seen in years.
Thursday marked the Israeli army’s deadliest operation in the occupied West Bank since at least 2005. Soldiers killed nine Palestinians, including gunmen and a 61-year-old woman, in a raid on suspects in the overcrowded refugee camp in Jenin. Dozens of others were injured.
Friday marked the deadliest Palestinian attack on Israelis since 2008. A Palestinian gunman killed seven people – and injured three – outside a synagogue in an Israeli settlement neighborhood of Jerusalem, at the start of the Jewish Sabbath. On Saturday, another Palestinian fired outside an enclave of Israeli settlements in Jerusalem, injuring two.
What can be at the origin of this rise in violence?
Israel’s 10-month crackdown in the West Bank
A series of deadly attacks by Palestinians against Israelis last year sparked a massive Israeli military campaign dubbed Operation Breakwater, beginning March 31. Since then, almost daily, Israel has carried out raids in the Israeli-occupied West Bank to arrest suspected militants and gather weapons. Almost every week Palestinians have been killed.
It resulted in the highest cumulative death toll in the West Bank since 2004. Nearly 150 Palestinians were killed by Israeli troops last year, according to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem. This includes gunmen but also uninvolved civilians and young Palestinians throwing stones at the troops. It also includes Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, also killed in the Jenin refugee camp. Israel says she was probably killed unintentionally by a soldier’s gunfire.
The weakening of the Palestinian security forces
Palestinian security forces are trained by US and international forces to patrol the West Bank, round up Palestinian militants, and coordinate with Israeli officials to prevent attacks on Israelis. But these forces have lost a lot of legitimacy among their own people. Many Palestinians see them as obeying Israeli orders, maintaining Israeli military occupation rather than resisting it.
Increasingly, pockets of the West Bank have become no-go zones for Palestinian Authority forces, who now refuse to enter or find it too dangerous. This includes the Jenin refugee camp, a neighborhood dense with concrete buildings and home to numerous armed militant groups dedicated to fighting Israel. Israel says it is stepping in to fill the void and has stepped up its raids on these densely populated areas. His troops are met by emboldened gunmen with groups like Hamas, Islamic Jihad or new militant groups, leading to deadly clashes.
After the Israeli raid on Thursday, the Palestinian Authority said it was officially suspending its US-supervised security cooperation with Israel, but it is unclear to what extent this will take place.
Israel’s half-century occupation shows no sign of ending
Palestinian leaders want to establish an independent state in the West Bank. But Israel has occupied the West Bank for nearly 56 years and continues to deepen its grip on it. He says that the Palestinians are not ready to make peace with Israel and that the occupation is a security necessity. But it has also enabled and supported hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers across the West Bank, and the new far-right government is pledging to legalize dozens of small settlement outposts deep in the territory, making more difficult to envision a future Palestinian state. the.
Young Palestinians have grown up knowing nothing but Israel’s strict permit regime that controls Palestinian entry and movement, and some of their only interactions with Israelis are often with hostile settlers or soldiers. responsible for the occupation, who often raid houses and imprison people for months. free of charge. Some young Palestinians see violent resistance against Israel as their only viable path to freedom, with young activists revered on social media.
As Palestinian Leadership Weakens, Israel’s Far-Right Rises
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, 87, one of the Middle East’s oldest leaders, has lost the support of most Palestinians, according to polls. He tried to promote Palestinian independence through nonviolence and diplomatic negotiations with Israel, but this approach failed. In the 19th year of what was supposed to be a four-year term, Abbas lost control of Gaza to Hamas militants, canceled elections for the new leadership, allowed government corruption to flourish and did not chart a clear future for the Palestinians.
On the other hand, Israel’s longtime leader Benjamin Netanyahu is back as prime minister with a far-right coalition that has hatched a plan to deepen its grip on the West Bank and take more action. tough on the Palestinians. In just a month in power, the government has sparked a series of controversies, including over the status of the sensitive Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem. Israeli officials are already bracing for a tense April, when Ramadan and Passover coincide, a combustible mix for potential religious and nationalist violence.