General Strike, Clashes in the West Bank After Palestinian Killed by Israel
A restless generation born after the Oslo Accords and the Second Intifada is the new leadership of the Palestinians and represents a difficult challenge to both Israel and the Palestinian Authority, experts say
Palestinian shops, offices, and schools were shuttered on Thursday across the West Bank and east Jerusalem in protest of Israel’s killing of a man suspected of a deadly attack against Israeli forces.
Clashes erupted in several places in the West Bank.
Udai Tamimi, wanted by Israel for a deadly attack that killed an Israeli soldier this month at the entrance to the Shuafat refugee camp in east Jerusalem, was killed late Wednesday after he fired at Israeli guards outside Maale Adumim, a large settlement 5 miles east of Jerusalem.
Following the October 8 fatal attack, Israeli police blockaded the overcrowded Shuafat refugee camp for days while searching for the suspect.
The surge in tension in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem follows months of escalation in the West Bank, as the Israeli army conducted daily raids throughout the Palestinian territories.
More than 120 Palestinians have been killed so far in 2022 — the deadliest round of fighting in seven years, according to the United Nations.
Israel says it launched its operation in late March following a series of attacks by Palestinians in Israel that killed 19 people.
Palestinian political analyst Adel Shadid told The Media Line that the rise in attacks could be attributed to the emergence of a new Palestinian generation that is frustrated with the status quo.
He says Israel must be concerned.
“It is dealing with a new generation that is confronting it head-on; many are in their teens and 20s. This is a generation born after the Oslo Accords, and after the Second Intifada, and it enjoys wide popular support that forms the incubator and environment for this new movement.”
Shortly after news of Tamami’s killing spread, Palestinians took to the streets in east Jerusalem and throughout the West Bank in a show of solidarity.
The biggest problem for Israel, Shadid says, lies in the huge public support behind these new groups and perpetrators, especially among young people.
“They see them as heroes!” he said.
This wide popular support, Shadid says, amounts to a popular referendum on the peace process which for all intents and purposes is dead, and the armed struggle, which is alive and well.”
In Nablus and Jenin in the northern West Bank, new armed groups like the Lions’ Den and the Jenin Brigades have formed recently.
“I think at some point,” Shadid said, “Israel and its security services will discover that they made a big mistake in their reading of the situation on the ground.”
“Neither Israel nor the Palestinian Authority but the street is now in control, and this complicates matters as those behind these operations are unorganized, nonpartisan people who do not belong to a particular faction, which makes tracking them almost impossible,” says Shadid.
Prof. Uzi Rabi, director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University, told The Media Line that the new generation of Palestinians is “restless, and they don’t accept Palestinian politics as they are.”
He says groups like the Lions’ Den and others are the new leadership of the Palestinians.
“What we are seeing in the northern West Bank in my opinion is a kind of a byproduct of deep socioeconomic and socio-cultural processes that the Palestinian society is witnessing,” says Rabi.
Shadid argues that groups like the Lions’ Den and the Jenin Brigades represent a new and alternative leadership for the Palestinians “that does not only frighten the occupation but the PA, too.”
“We are living in a new phase that may produce a new field leadership but there are parties such as Israel and Palestinian forces that reject the outbreak of an intifada and will work hard to prevent it because it will harm them,” says Shadid.
Rabi added that the incentives in east Jerusalem and the West Bank to carry out attacks have emerged for several months. He thought the Palestinian population’s support for the perpetrators of the attacks was the result of “accumulated frustration, economic problems, crime,” and the vacuum left by the PA, which is seen as incompetent.
Rabi says the PA leadership in Ramallah lost control and “hasn’t had the ability to exert its influence on that region,” adding that the new generation of Palestinians is searching for a new identity.
“What we might be witnessing is a new concept of how to do Palestinian nationalism. This is not a passing phenomenon; it’s here to stay.”
The PA is weak and unpopular among Palestinians, and a growing number of Palestinians say it is incapable of protecting them, leading to a security vacuum in areas under its security control.
Rabi adds that much of the tension in recent months is borne out of the declining health of PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
“His days are numbered. Politically speaking, this is kind of a struggle for who is going to succeed him,” says Rabi.
Shadid partly agrees.
“The situation has spun out of control, not only in areas under the control of the Palestinian security services in the West Bank but even in places under full Israeli control, as well,” says Shadid. “The tense situation in Jerusalem belies Israel’s claims that the blame rests with the PA. The confrontations and tension are on the rise in east Jerusalem, which is under Israeli control.”
Rabi says the latest tension in east Jerusalem is the “main problem of Israel,” arguing that Israel can’t deal with east Jerusalem in the same way it does Gaza and the West Bank.
“East Jerusalem must be dealt with in a different way. Israel should treat east Jerusalem with a lot of sensitivity and creativity. What’s happening in east Jerusalem will create the next problem that Israel needs to deal with. This is something that is going to require the involvement of other actors, including Jordan and others that have relations with Israel,” says Rabi.