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Israel is failing militarily and politically as Palestinian resistance escalates

August 24, 2023 at 3:39 pm

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant visit the site of the shooting where a settler was killed and another seriously injured in Hebron, occupied West Bank on August 21, 2023 [Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)/Handout/Anadolu Agency]

Israeli political and security officials are furious over the escalation of resistance operations following the Hebron and Huwara attacks in the occupied West Bank. This has prompted senior army and security officers to admit that they have failed to control the unprecedented wave of such attacks. 

The Hebron attack shocked Israel, which had not recovered from the shock of the Huwara operation. Two battalions were deployed in the search for the perpetrators. Things are complicated by the fact that resistance groups are trying to create fronts to attack the occupation directly, and it is likely that there will be more armed operations soon.

Indeed, Israel does not rule out the possibility of similar attacks taking place, especially out of Jenin, because the occupation state has failed to deter the resistance groups. The far-right government is accused of being lenient and there have been calls within the coalition to take revenge against Palestinians.

Racist right-wing parties in the Israeli government have once again pointed the finger of blame at Security Minister Yoav Gallant. They demand the closure of Palestinian villages in the West Bank, and the return of checkpoints; they also accuse the government of being indecisive, and saying that West Bank roads are now set up for attacks.

READ: Israel in the middle of escalation not seen for a long time, says senior army officer

It is clear that Israel’s once-famed deterrent factor has reduced in its effectiveness. This has led to an increasing number of calls for revenge and targeted assassinations of Palestinians leaders living in the Gaza Strip and beyond occupied Palestine.

The repercussions of the Huwara and Hebron resistance operations are ongoing. The occupation army does not hide its concern that it is unable to provide necessary protection for illegal Jewish settlers. There has been an escalation in stone throwing and stabbing attacks, with Huwara at the centre of commando-style attacks since February 2022. Israel admits that these attacks are dangerous, and an investigation is underway to find out why they are happening.

The attacks have taken place on settler-only roads that are the most difficult to protect, and at times when the army’s presence is less obvious. The army can’t stop settlers from entering Palestinian villages and thousands of them use those roads for work and shopping purposes, which makes them vulnerable to attack. There are also a number of congestion points, which again makes settlers using these roads relatively easy targets for resistance fighters. At the same time, there are many adjacent side streets for their withdrawal. This is certainly the case for the settler roads around Huwara. A decision to build a new road bypassing the area was made in 2019, but is only expected to be completed in December.

Despite the plethora of CCTV cameras across the occupied West Bank, the resistance fighters plan attacks thoroughly, with clear escape routes in mind. Israelis now talk about how easy it is to carry out such attacks throughout the occupied Palestinian territories, despite the heavy military presence and the security collaboration from the Palestinian Authority.

The Hebron and Huwara operations have given Israelis a reason to talk about how Palestinians have everything needed for resistance attacks, including weapons and an increasing number of volunteers. There is also the recklessness of settlers moving around the West Bank who dare to enter Palestinian towns. 

READ: Fatah military wing claims responsibility for Hebron resistance attack

An ongoing discussion focuses on locations that fall within Area B, which is under total Israeli security control. The talk is about the completion of a bypass road which would facilitate security measures for the army, and would prevent Palestinian and Israeli vehicles from being in close proximity to each other. Since the beginning of this year, there have been ten attacks on the same axis near Huwara, within a stretch of road less than three kilometres long.

Israeli security, military and political officials are very angry at the ease of which resistance operations seem to be able to be carried out, especially those in Huwara and Hebron. There is a clear failure by the security and military sectors, and a resultant political setback for the government. With around 35 soldiers and settlers killed already, this is the deadliest year for the occupation since the 2000/05 Al-Aqsa Intifada.

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