Shortly before the new year, a number of newspapers reported that Hamas–in the wake of its victory or “victory” against Israel in Operation Pillar of Defense–was now plotting to take over the West Bank. The idea was that Iran, seeing its ally Bashar Assad in Syria faltering, was hoping to make the West Bank a third front against Israel should Iran’s nuclear facilities be attacked.
That particular story seemed to go quietly into the end of the year dissolve, but the West Bank continues to heat up. Earlier today, Reuters reported a clash in Jenin, which was said to involve as many as 500 Palestinians who threw rocks and petrol bombs at Israeli soldiers following an IDF raid. It was the second such raid this week in the area.
According to the Times of Israel, the raids and targeted arrests are part of a greater effort to staunch the momentum that might lead toward a Third Intifada.
Flames of unrest in the West Bank — possibly stoked by the Palestinians’ upgraded status at the United Nations, to that of a nonmember observer state, and Israel’s recent war against Hamas in Gaza — have surfaced over the past few weeks.
The Shin Bet security service contended in its November monthly report that the increase in violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank was tied to Pillar of Defense, that month’s eight-day Israel-Gaza conflict. The security agency counted 122 Palestinian attacks on Israelis in the West Bank, compared with 39 in October — and 44 incidents in Jerusalem, up from 31 the month before.
Be it Hamas-inspired, Iran-inspired, part of a popular uprising, or all of the above, the uptick in violence is something that augurs ill for Israel, especially given the narrow tone of its election season and the unrest on Israel’s other borders.
‘Hamas preparing for West Bank takeover’ [JPost]
Israeli raid in West Bank triggers clashes with Palestinians [Reuters]
Fearing Third Intifada, Israel boosts targeted arrests in West Bank [Times of Israel]