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The Jerusalem operation brings the conflict with the Occupation back to square one

February 2, 2023 at 9:14 am

Israeli security forces take measures as Israeli forces demolish the house belonging to Palestinians in East Jerusalem. [Mostafa Alkharouf – Anadolu Agency]

The operation that took place in Beit Hanina in Occupied Jerusalem continues to stir fear among Occupation soldiers, who worry that similar operations could be carried out by Palestinian youth. The Occupation claims it has already thwarted 29 possible attacks and there are more threats of individual armed attacks. Meanwhile, security officials warn that we may be facing the beginning of a third Palestinian Intifada.

32 Palestinian attacks have taken place since the beginning of 2023, which resulted in seven deaths, three serious injuries, and two moderate injuries among settlers. In addition, there were 41 warnings of possible attacks and continuous fear of an outbreak. Many of the organised and individual attacks involve the use of weapons; operations that took place in recent weeks ranged from stabbings, explosives and run-overs. These are indications of a level of security tension similar to the one preceding the Gaza war in May 2021. The Army is no longer dealing with an uprising of stones and Molotov cocktails, but firearms which, apparently, any Palestinian can obtain.

It is true that the new right-wing government took a quick set of collective punishments against the Palestinians, but the prevailing Israeli feeling is that they are tactical measures that do not solve the strategic problem with Palestinians. The main Israeli concern right now is fear of copycats, and the goal is to prevent escalation before the month of Ramadan. Otherwise, the Occupation is headed for a period of security tension because it is facing armed attacks that may be the most dangerous since 2011.

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 While the Occupation Army decided to reinforce its troops with three battalions in the West Bank and focus its main efforts on protecting its axes and settlements in fear of copycat Palestinian attacks, it continues its widespread arrests against Palestinian activists, and it is expected to continue to do so. The Jerusalem operation caused panic among the Israelis because it occurred at the height of a security alert, and warnings that the Palestinians are escalating their attacks, and transitioning from individual stabbing and running-over operations to more organised and effective ones. They have been doing so in response to the extremist government in Tel Aviv, which continues to threaten them.

The Jerusalem operation against settlers came less than one day after the Occupation carried out its bloody massacre against the Jenin camp, making it a natural development as a response to Israeli escalating crimes. Such crimes have led Palestinian youth to take immediate action, based on the general policy of resisting the Occupation, without waiting for permission or a decision from anyone.

At the same time, the operation showed that it can change realities on the ground, not because of the high number of Israeli deaths, but rather the fact that Palestinians are heading towards an explosive escalation. This means that Israel is facing a major dilemma since it had no prior information about executors of the attack, and this is a critical point as there are 300,000 Palestinian Jerusalemites.

The Jerusalem operation brought back to the minds of the Occupation the armed commando operations it witnessed in 2022 in the West Bank, especially in the north. At that time, Israel intensified its aggressive activities, during which more than two hundred Palestinians were killed, most of them civilians and, since the beginning of 2023, nearly thirty others have been killed by the Occupation, which raises major unrest on the Palestinian streets.

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 Israelis believe that the Jerusalem attack will motivate more Palestinian militants to carry out similar ones and, therefore, it is expected that the Occupation Forces will be greatly reinforced in Occupied Jerusalem and, perhaps, also in the West Bank. This means more friction, and more Palestinian victims, leading to more violence and escalation. Although there are numerous international factors that are working to calm things down and restore quiet atmospheres, including the United States, the European Union, Jordan and Egypt, their ability to succeed is limited, considering the decline in the Occupation’s control over the West Bank, which warns Israeli and regional intelligence agencies of an intensification in the commando operations soon.

The bloody massacre carried out by the Israeli Occupation Army in Jenin showed, once again, that hundreds, if not thousands, of Palestinian youth do not fear being injured or martyred in protests with the Army. This means that the factors that may lead to escalation are still present, and on their way to increase, especially as Al-Aqsa Mosque is preparing to receive the month of Ramadan; this means an escalation of protests in the West Bank, and an increase in the number of Palestinian victims.

The Jenin massacre committed by the Occupation proved that the Palestinians are applying a slogan they have been repeating for a long time, which is “beware of natural death, do not die except under a hail of bullets”, which is a quote from the Palestinian poet, Ghassan Kanafani, who was assassinated by the Mossad fifty years ago. It seems, now, that many young people in the West Bank are adopting it as a slogan for life, or rather for death.

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 This confirms that the pace of events and battles exceeds everything the Israelis have seen in recent years. Moreover, the motivation of Palestinian youth to fight the Occupation Army is increasing, and it does not seem that the political or security horizon may change this direction. This is because elements that may warn of continued escalation are present, and will increase soon, especially because of the religious factor embodied in the Al-Aqsa Mosque and considering the month of Ramadan, which will begin in a month and a half, in addition to the ongoing confrontations between the Palestinians and the settlers. All these factors constitute an explosive situation for Israelis without a possibility of rest, especially considering the extreme right-wing government that does not help in restoring calm.

The Beit Hanina operation marked the beginning of the era for the fascist Occupation government. The operation left many settlers dead and wounded, and shows a clear shift in the Resistance operations that broke out nearly a year ago and used various types of knives, cars and shooting. This raises questions about the possibility of this wave entering a new phase in the Palestinian-Israeli confrontation, ranging between action and reaction.

It was natural for the Jerusalem operation to be welcomed and blessed by all Palestinians, describing it as the anticipated result of the Occupation Army’s continued killing of them, and the settlers’ storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque. It was also perceived as an affirmation of the continuation of the Resistance, and the return of the conflict with the Occupation to square one, which represents a setback for Israel, and a Palestinian rejection of its attempt to control their reality on the ground.

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The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.