The Chief of Staff of the Israeli Occupation Army warned last week of a major outbreak of "violence" in the occupied West Bank, the Times of Israel reported on Friday. Gadi Eisenkot said that there is a "60 to 80 per cent" chance of this happening.
According to reports, Eisenkot attributed the expected outbreak to the waning political influence of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, as well as to his deteriorating health. He delivered his warning during a meeting of the Israeli security cabinet held last Sunday.
Any violence in the West Bank, said Eisenkot, would require more Israeli troops to be deployed as well as a corresponding escalation in the Gaza Strip due to the nature of the friction between the Palestinians there and in the West Bank.
The senior officer pointed to the declining support from the US and Arab states for Abbas, pressure on him to reach a reconciliation with Hamas and increasing anger among the Palestinian people over the PA's "sacred" security cooperation with Israel. Abbas's forthcoming speech at the UN General Assembly, he warned, could ignite the expected violence, which Eisenkot already believes would be based on lone wolf attacks. Israel claimed last week that it had undermined 3,000 possible lone wolf attacks against Israeli targets during the past two years in cooperation with the PA.
To avoid more violence, Eisenkot suggested improving the economic situation of Palestinians in the West Bank and stressed the importance of resolving the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The consequences for the Palestinians of the US aid cuts must also be addressed, he added.
In closing, the Chief of Staff warned of the possibility of Israel finding itself trapped in a confrontation on three fronts: Syria, Lebanon and the West Bank and Gaza Strip.