The past four weeks have seen an escalation of violence – the worst since the second intifada which began in September 2000 – against Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank by Israeli security forces and hard-line settler groups right, acting in concert.
Days pass without reports of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces, including two near the northern city of Nablus on Friday, and another gunned down in Hebron on Saturday after allegedly killing an Israeli in the long-troubled southern city by the provocative actions of religious fanatics.
The violence follows months of large-scale raids and almost daily arrest operations in the northern cities of Nablus and Jenin. These were placed under the security and administrative control of the Palestinian Authority (PA) by the Oslo Accords. Curfews, roadblocks and accompanying restrictions on movement have crippled economic life.
Operation Break the Wave was launched in April by then-Prime Minister Naftali Bennett after a series of attacks by desperate Palestinians, with little-known association with each other or with armed groups, killed 19 Israeli Jews. He put the army on high alert, sent additional troops to the West Bank and called on people to bear arms.
Bennett said, “Anyone with a gun license, now is the time to carry a gun,” giving the green light to ultra-nationalist and settler groups to create militias and go on a rampage. It was a declaration of war on the Palestinians.
At least 175 Palestinians have been killed this year, more than 44 in the past two months, making 2022 the deadliest in 16 years. Hundreds more were injured, while at least 1,500 people were arrested, leaving detention centers overflowing.
Defense for Children International – Palestine reported that 29 children were killed by Israeli soldiers, explaining: “All the children were killed after being shot with live ammunition in the upper limbs. This is proof of intentional murder.
Jenin has been the subject of almost daily raids which have claimed 40 lives since March. It is in Jenin that Shireen Abu-Akleh, the American-Palestinian journalist working for Al Jazeera Arabic, was murdered by Israeli forces while covering the clashes. The city is home to an impoverished refugee camp and a center of Palestinian opposition to the repressive regime of Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority. Hamas’ influence has grown.
Nablus, which is surrounded by Israeli settlements, has become the center of Israeli military activity in support of armed settlers who staged one provocation after another against Palestinians, attacking their vehicles, homes, properties and olive groves.
Tensions rose after 100 armed settlers blocked the southern entrance to the city near the town of Huwwara to say prayers on October 4, at the start of Yom Kippur. Huwwara has suffered dozens of attacks over the past year. The provocation – described by the settlers as the “civilian siege” of Nablus – was closely coordinated with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) closing the city gate.
These ultra-nationalists have since maintained their siege, preventing Palestinians from entering or leaving the city. Their aim is to force the government to carry out a massive operation against “terrorism” in Nablus, similar to the one carried out against Jenin in April 2002 which killed more than 50 Palestinians.
On October 12, the military seized on the assassination of an Israeli soldier by a militant group known as “Lions’ Den”. The soldier was protecting settlers from Shavei Shomron, west of Nablus, who were blockading the city. The entire population of Nablus was subjected to collective punishment, with security forces only allowing Palestinians entry or exit after verifying their identity and possessions, leading to delays of several hours.
Such is the ferocity of opposition the IDF has encountered that Israel has deployed not only snipers but also drones – so far used only against targets in Gaza, Lebanon and Syria – and placed a explosive device to kill Tamer al-Kilani, a Lions’ Den activist.
The Lions’ Den militia is made up largely of young, politically unaffiliated Palestinians born after the Second Intifada and increasingly frustrated by President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah-dominated PA’s refusal to defend them against Israel. It has recently started targeting Israeli soldiers and settlers.
The despotic and corrupt Palestinian Authority is widely reviled as a contractor to Israel in enforcing the decades-long occupation and increasing poverty while a handful of the Palestinian elite s enriched more and more. He was unable to organize elections to replace the 87-year-old and ailing president and dissolved the Palestinian Legislative Council. The September arrest by PA security forces of Hamas fighter Musab Shtayyah at Israel’s request led to widespread protests in Nablus against the PA.
According to a report in Ha’aretz, the settlers took advantage of the military blockade of Nablus to mount more than 100 attacks against the Palestinians, mainly around Huwwara.
On October 25, after a two-week siege of Nablus and the surrounding neighborhood, Israeli security forces stormed the Old City in one of the largest operations in years, killing five Palestinians and wounding 20. According to Ma’an news agency, Israeli forces also directed their fire at PA security forces, wounding four officers.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, speaking on television, said: “Israel will never be deterred from acting for its security. Defense Minister Benny Gantz pledged the military would continue its crackdown on the Lions’ Den and other armed groups, tweeting: “There are not and there will be no sanctuary cities for The Terrorists “.
The Palestinians have responded to this latest assault by shutting down the West Bank, closing schools, businesses and offices, funeral processions drawing thousands of mourners and provoking clashes with security forces.
Tensions have also increased in East Jerusalem:
* Jewish extremists were allowed into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in record numbers during recent Jewish holy days. This and the restrictions imposed on the entry of Muslim worshipers raised fears of an attempt to take control of the compound.
* The murder of an Israeli soldier and the wounding of another on October 8 by Udai Tamimi at a checkpoint in Shuafat, a refugee camp, led to raids, the closure of the camp, the sprinkling of water smelly and tear gas fired as the IDF searched for Tamimi. Left at large for 11 days, he emerged to fire on Israeli soldiers guarding the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim before being killed by the IDF. His death sparked angry protests and a general strike on October 20 that hit businesses, schools, universities and transportation across the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
* Israeli settlers, led by fascist lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir, have flocked to Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood in East Jerusalem. Ben-Gvir’s Jewish power is gaining popularity in opinion polls and is aligning itself with former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is seeking to return to power in elections on November 1. The aim of the settlers is to terrorize the Palestinians outside the city. Jewish Power has already established an armed militia in southern Israel and is seeking to form another in Bat Yam, a Tel Aviv suburb that has witnessed several violent attacks on Palestinians by far-right groups .
Columnist Amos Harel warned in Ha’aretz“There is a danger of events crossing the Green Line again, including possible clashes in mixed (Jewish-Arab) towns,” as happened in May 2021 when Israel bombarded the densely populated territory and impoverished Gaza, the missiles and shells caused widespread unrest in Jerusalem and Israel’s mixed towns.
Tensions have been deliberately stoked by Israel’s promotion of communalist and ethno-religious policies, including the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, Arab citizens of Israel and migrant workers. This is largely due to the ever-widening gap between rich and poor – one of the most extreme in the rich group of OECD countries – which has left the state dependent on right-wing settlers and extreme nationalist fanatics. who now dominate the political arena. It testifies to the moral bankruptcy of the Zionist project and the dead end of its reactionary perspective to carve out a sectarian Jewish capitalist state in the Middle East.
Israel’s brutal repression of the Palestinians would not be possible without the political, diplomatic and military support of US imperialism and European powers, alongside Egypt, the other bourgeois Arab states and Palestinian bourgeois nationalists, secular and clerical , which appeal to the bourgeois forces and the United Nations controlled by imperialism which have completely betrayed the Palestinian people. This poses the urgent need to build sections of the International Committee of the Fourth International to fight for the program of socialist internationalism, the unity of the Arab and Jewish working class and a common struggle against capitalism and imperialism.