OPN 190920 PALESTINIAN PROTEST-1568980487095
Smoke billows from burning tires as a Palestinian protester uses a slingshot to hurl stones at Israeli troops, during clashes following a weekly protest against the expropriation of Palestinian land by Israel, in the village of Kfar Qaddum in the occupied West Bank on September 13, 2019. Image Credit: AFP

The current Palestinian youth movement against the Israeli occupation (led by the post-Oslo generation) might be on the cusp of creating a political change.

Indeed, in recent weeks individual armed attacks targeting Israeli occupation forces and Jewish colonising settlers, both in the West Bank and across the Gaza Strip, have raised questions about such motives. Whether or not it is a passing phase, or increases with time, remains to be seen.

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 National 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 and the insistence of the PLO/PNA President not to receive the amount incomplete.

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 organisational identity and their motives are individual

- As’ad Abdul Rahman

Although the crisis (indirectly) ‘ended’, it led to approximately 160 thousand PNA 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 it was “the deteriorating economic situation”. Specifically, “people in the West Bank feel that the state of calm sought by the PNA has not paid off with any political achievement in the last decade”. The report concluded that “the involvement of the children of the Palestinian National 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.”

Further deterioration

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 ongoing economic pressure”. The report focused on the younger generation between the ages of 16 and 25, as “suffering from great pressures, coupled with loss of jobs, which reinforces fear for their 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.

More on the issue

In the same context, Amos Harel, an 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 Al Haram Al Sharif and the decision of the occupation authorities to bring Jews there.” 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 a 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 organisational identity and their motives are individual, especially that the behaviour of the Palestinian National Authority and Hamas in particular is against any escalation that may lead to a war.” 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 difficult economic conditions exist — may return as strongly as in 2015. These indicators may lead to an uprising resembling the first intifada of 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. It 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 Israeli policies toward the Palestinian people continue.

— Professor As’ad Abdul Rahman is the chairman of the Palestinian Encyclopaedia.