Tension Rising in East Jerusalem, West Bank With New Wave of Attacks
They have prompted the Israel Police to deploy extra forces in Jerusalem ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan
Tension is rising in the West Bank and east Jerusalem after three Palestinians were killed at the hand of Israeli forces in a span of 48 hours earlier this week. The Israel Police say that the three assailants in separate incidents attempted to attack security forces inside Jerusalem’s Old City.
The spike in and frequency of attacks in the last few weeks is a worry for Israel’s security apparatus, prompting the Israel Police to deploy extra forces in Jerusalem ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins next month.
“This is a volatile time, and it seems the wave of stabbing attacks is rearing its head,” an Israel Police official said on Monday, following a stabbing attack in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Ramadan is observed by Muslims throughout the world, as a month of fasting, prayer, and reflection, but it also leads to an increase in tension in Jerusalem.
Hamas, the Islamist group that governs Gaza, praised the recent attacks, and claimed at least one attacker as a member, while accusing Israel of “extrajudicial killings” of Palestinians in Jerusalem.
“These attacks will continue as long as the occupation continues its aggression and its violations against the sacred sites in Jerusalem,” Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem said.
Rafaat Alyan, a leader of Fatah, the movement led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, told The Media Line that the situation is volatile.
“The West Bank and east Jerusalem are simmering on the verge of erupting, heading towards an escalation. What is happening is a natural result of the escalating provocations practiced by the occupation and settlers against the Palestinian people,” Alyan said.
He says the lack of a political resolution on the horizon has frustrated the Palestinians.
“The current situation cannot be tolerated. There is an absence of a political vision for the Palestinian issue. The Palestinian leadership is unable to deliver anything, it is helpless, it is unable to protect the Palestinian people,” Alyan said.
“How do you explain what three martyrs who died in less than 48 hours means,” he added.
Our problem is with the existence of the occupation and its practices and settlements and settlers. Our problem is not an economic problem. We are used to hunger and are able to endure. We are looking for dignity and independence.
Yoni Ben-Menachem, a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, told The Media Line that the Palestinian are “exasperated with the lack of interest in the Palestinian cause and the situation due to the war in Ukraine.”
In addition, Ben-Menachem says, Hamas is trying to “exploit” the state of instability in areas under the control of the PA security forces in the West Bank and finds in the current situation an “opportunity to intensify the resistance due to the weakness of the authority.”
The Israeli security establishment believes that Hamas is carrying out “incitement” activities against the PA in several places.
“They always try to incite violence among Palestinians in the West Bank and in east Jerusalem. The PA has lost security control in several areas in the West Bank, especially in Jenin, Hebron, and Nablus,” according to Ben-Menachem.
The Palestinian Authority has seen its grip on power dwindle in recent years, with growing discontent over the rule of Abbas, who has seen his popularity reach new lows.
“Let’s be clear, the PA has no control over the Palestinian territories. The occupation forces enter the center of the city of Ramallah, which is considered the de facto political capital of the PA, and it is meters away from the residence of President Mahmoud Abbas, in the so-called security square,” said Alyan.
Many Palestinians attribute the increase in hostility to several reasons, among them mounting tensions in Israeli prisons, where thousands of Palestinian prisoners are threatening to go on a hunger strike.
“The prisoners are taking steps to protest Israeli repressive and punitive measures; also, the continued Israeli army incursions into Palestinian cities, villages and refugee camps; house demolitions in Area C of the West Bank and some Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem; threats to evict families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood,” are all reasons for the growing tension, Alyan said.
Abbas met with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz several times in the last year, and top PA officials met with Israeli officials, leading to an announcement by Gantz that Israel would implement a series of steps intended to help lift the ailing Palestinian economy.
Ben-Menachem says that the meetings were a failure and that the idea of economic and financial assistance failed to achieve peace.
“Naturally, you cannot solve the political issue with economic provisions. Over the years, Israel tried this, and it did not work. All the provisions were meant to strengthen the authority’s position in the Palestinian street, and this is in response to an American request,” he said.
“Our problem is with the existence of the occupation and its practices and settlements and settlers. Our problem is not an economic problem. We are used to hunger and are able to endure. We are looking for dignity and independence,” Alyan said.