The Danger of Violent Escalation in the West Bank

(Washington Institute for Near East Policy) Ehud Yaari - There has been a sharp and troubling increase in Palestinian terrorist attacks in recent months. Since January, 28 Israelis have lost their lives. Authorities have recorded 148 "critical" terrorist attacks - 120 using firearms, and the rest involving explosives, stabbings, or car ramming. In addition, Israeli security services have foiled another 375 planned attacks during this period (300 involving firearms) and arrested more than 1,400 Palestinians. Much of this escalation has been concentrated in the northern West Bank, mainly Jenin, gradually spilling over to Nablus. Palestinian terrorist elements have improved the explosive charges they use against the Israeli military, and in many cases have mobilized dozens or even hundreds of gunmen to engage in battle. Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad - with generous funding and advice from Iran's Revolutionary Guards Quds Force and close cooperation with Hizbullah - are investing heavily in efforts to establish West Bank workshops for assembling rockets of the types manufactured in Gaza. Even short-range rockets would constitute a direct threat to Israel's densely populated central region. Hamas and other groups seek to flood the West Bank with weapons and funds, enabling local groups to arm themselves and select targets. Weapons are reaching the West Bank via Jordan from Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Libya. The Israel Security Agency apparently leans toward a restricted operation to disarm Jenin. Local groups in Jenin are already preparing for a potential Israeli incursion by setting up ambushes, dispersing explosive charges, and establishing sniper positions. The writer, a fellow with the Washington Institute, is a veteran commentator for Israeli television.

2023-06-26 00:00:00

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