Since the 11 day war launched against the Palestinian people in mid-May, Israel has pursued an aggressive, zero negotiation strategy in an attempt to break the will of rebelling Palestinians across the territories. If it does not change its attitude it could quickly get drawn into another armed confrontation with the Gaza Strip as it slowly drives the West Bank into armed rebellion.
Israel is coming up on the 5 month mark since its loosely put together ceasefire with the Joint Room of armed resistance groups, headed by the al-Qassam brigades of Hamas, in the besieged Gaza Strip. In a bid to salvage some semblance of a win out of the disastrous military embarrassment inflicted upon the occupation army, Israel has blocked aid, attempted to impose new rules of engagement, and single out Gaza from the other Palestinian territories. All these attempts have so far proven futile, as despite the humanitarian situation in Gaza having deteriorated further, Hamas are yet to budge from any of their originally held positions.
Egypt has been the negotiation hub between Hamas and Israel, which both refuse to recognize each other or meet. On August 18th, Egyptian General Intelligence Directory, Abbas Kamel, travelled to Israel to meet with officials, during which discussions were said to have taken place concerning the Gaza Strip. In mid September, shortly after news was announced of the US withholding foreign aid funds from Egypt, Israeli PM Naftali Bennett made a visit to the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh (Egypt). Many read this move from Egypt, allowing an Israeli PM to visit for the first time since 2011, as having been somewhat facilitated in order to send a positive message to Washington, which had just criticized their record of human rights abuses.
These trips between Israeli and Egyptian counterparts have also been punctuated by delegations traveling to and from the Gaza Strip from Egypt. Cairo has been quick to seize the opportunity to be part of facilitating a long term truce between Gaza and Israel, for its diplomatic record and standing before the US. Yet Hamas, which just sent a delegation to Egypt earlier this week to discuss the situation with Israel, has not signaled that any such long-term truce is now any closer.
Hundreds of millions in aid funds from the likes of Qatar and others, were for months completely blocked from reaching the Gaza Strip. This is despite the fact that Gaza’s already crippled infrastructure was badly damaged during the fighting, including its medical, educational, religious, water, and electrical facilities. Israel had hoped that through imposing tighter restrictions, further strengthening the grip of its illegal blockade, Hamas would give in to Israel’s demands. This failed.
Israel also attempted to set new rules of engagement with the armed groups in the Gaza Strip. Israeli Premier, Naftali Bennett, still attempts to hold strong with his threats that balloons with burning objects attached (which are flown over the fence into Israeli-held farm lands) are to be considered the same as rockets fired into Israeli cities. This has so far not worked as a sufficient deterrent to Gaza’s armed groups, nor to protesters, nor its non-violent activists who challenge Israel’s blockade through night confusion activities along the separation fence.
The Israeli military has now also warned that it will strike Gaza just as hard as it would for rocket fire into its Capital, Tel Aviv, if rockets are fired at the neighboring cities of Askalan, Isdud and others. This aggressive policy will likely severely backfire during the next round of confrontations and has not yet been acted upon.
Instead of deterring Gaza’s well trained, organized, and now newly equipped armed groups from engaging in armed struggle against Israel, it has only escalated the fight elsewhere. The signs being shown now in the West Bank are truly frightening for the Israeli occupation, with regular gunfire now reported in areas surrounding Jenin, Nablus, al-Khalil and even sometimes Bethlehem, towards Israeli military outposts.
The young men of the West Bank are taking up arms, forming their own ragtag militias, and plotting defensive and offensive actions against Israeli forces. Illegal Israeli settlers are also making things harder by escalating tensions themselves, which has helped urge young Palestinians to take action, making some roads unsafe to drive on at night for Palestinians in the West Bank. An Israeli officials even spoke to Israeli news outlet Haaretz, stating that the military are allowing settlers to “blow off steam”, which really means they are openly allowing settlers to get away with illegal actions perpetrated against Palestinians.
Also in East Jerusalem, and Israel itself, Palestinians are still finding themselves marginalized and discriminated against with mass arrest campaigns, home demolitions, and rampant violence. This has led to demonstrations from Palestinian citizens of Israel and those inside of East Jerusalem. Even violent lone-wolf operations are being carried out within these areas, just as in the West Bank.
Israeli violence is driving Palestinian violence, and since the war on Gaza in May, resulting in the murder of approximately 270 Palestinians, the majority of which were civilians, Palestinians have undergone a new rebellious awakening. In September Israel injured over 1000 Palestinians and killed 11, in the West Bank alone. Even Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority, which is subservient to Israel, has had enough. Most likely in a bid to save face, Abbas has threatened to withdraw recognition of Israel and request a settlement based upon the 1947 – instead of 1967 – borders if Israel doesn’t help create a Palestinian State in the space of a year. Even with threats like these from their natural Palestinian allies, the extremists in the Israeli government find it unimaginable to even entertain such negotiations. If Israel is soon confronted with an extremely violent and volatile escalation in the occupied territories, it will all be of its own doing. It has come down to Israeli state’s senseless racism and lust for violence – traits which are digging the whole Zionist project its own grave.