The West Bank: A Volcano Ready to Erupt?

It is not unreasonable to reiterate that the current Palestinian youth movement against the Israeli occupation (led by the post-Oslo generation) recognizes deep inside that it is a key factor in creating any political change; that they -the youth- represent the real campaign of freedom. Indeed, in recent weeks individual armed attacks targeting Israeli occupation forces and Jewish colonizing settlers, both in the West Bank and across the Gaza Strip, have raised questions about their motives, whether or not a passing wave, or will increase.

Two recent security reports, one by the Israeli security services and the other by their Palestinian counterparts, both warn of a Palestinian flare-up in the West Bank. The Israeli security leadership estimated that there is a high probability of a Palestinian flare-up, in the near future. The reason cited is that “the Palestinian Authority is facing a severe economic crisis, following the Israeli decision to deduct the allowances of prisoners and families of martyrs from the tax money transferred to the (Palestinian) Authority-PA monthly, and the insistence of the PLO/ PA President not to receive the amount incomplete”. Although the crisis (indirectly) ‘ended’, yet it led to approximately 160 thousand PA employees, including some 65,000 members of the Palestinian security services, to receive only half of their salaries over the last six months. The report then examined several reasons and incentives for the outbreak of a series of armed operations in the West Bank. On top of these was “the deteriorating economic situation, inspiration drawn from the marches of return in Gaza”. Specifically, “people in the West Bank feel that the state of calm sought by the PA has not paid off with any political achievement in the last decade. The report concluded that “the involvement of the children of the Palestinian Authority and security personnel in the resistance is a result of Israel’s economic tightening. There is a desire to change the status quo towards Israel, including within the Fatah movement, within which voices are rising to return to the armed struggle.”

In the second report, the Palestinian security services warned of “further deterioration of the security situation in the West Bank, leading to the possibility of a full-fledged intifada, in light of the current political stalemate and the on-going economic pressure”. The report focused on the younger generation between the ages of 16 and 25, as “suffering from great pressures, coupled with the loss of jobs, which reinforces fear for his future, and that there is a high risk of young people turning this anger into operations.” The report was based on testimonies from the street, posts of young people on social media platforms, as well as statements during the interrogation of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

In the same context, Amos Harel, in Israeli Haaretz military analyst stated: “The signs of lack of calm are accumulating. In recent weeks there has been a marked increase in the number of operations and attempts to carry out operations.” As for the reasons for the escalation of tension in the West Bank, Harel pointed out that “part of the Palestinian discourse, which supports the resistance, is related to the tension in the Temple Mount (Al-Haram Al-Sharif) and the decision of the occupation authorities to bring Jews to the Temple.” Another reason, Harel cited, is that “many speculations going around about another gesture from the Trump administration to Netanyahu, on the eve of the elections, may include a concealed or publicly acknowledged US recognition of the annexation of Area C to Israel.” In a subsequent article, Harel said: “The West Bank and to some extent east of Jerusalem have flared up in recent weeks.”

Some Israeli research centres have also warned that there is evidence of a new wave in the West Bank similar to the events of 2015, which Israel called the “intifada of individuals.” According to Maariv newspaper report, citing research centres: “There are quite a few characteristics of the recent operations similar to those carried out by young men and boys in 2015 where the perpetrators have no organizational identity and their motives are individual, especially that the behaviour of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas in particular is against any escalation that may lead to a war which could end their existence.” Maariv went on to say that “the youth of Gaza who are ready to carry out operations on the border, as well as in the West Bank, where the difficult economic conditions exist, make young people carry out stabbings that may return as strongly as in 2015. These indicators may lead to an uprising resembling the first intifada in 1987, which erupted spontaneously and surprised Israel which could not stop it.” “Gaza and the West Bank are boiling volcanoes,” the paper concluded.

The ongoing extreme right-wing Israeli policies in support of colonial settlement will inevitably cause the continued deterioration of political, economic and humanitarian conditions in the West Bank and, of course, in the Gaza Strip. They might lead to a wider state of chaos and security vacuum posing a real threat to Israel. We all know that unplanned resistance may be a popular choice that no one can stop if these Israeli policies toward the Palestinian people continue.