Israeli occupation forces killed two Palestinians in the West Bank and another in the Negev area, in raid operations, leaving many others injured and one other in critical condition. Israeli violence has significantly escalated against Palestinians since the beginning of Russias invasion of Ukraine.
“We warn Israel that things are heading towards an explosion if Bennett’s government continues to play with fire, refuse peace, and continue crimes against our people,” said an official statement from the Ramallah based Palestinian Authority (PA). Within the space of hours, Israeli forces killed; Alaa Shaham from Qalandia (West Bank), Nader Rayan from Nablus (West Bank) and Sanad Al-Harbed from Rahat (Negev).
On the issue, the Israeli Police Commissioner, Kobi Shabtai, said that, “undercover Border Police forces work each night, under a veil of secrecy, and this morning Israeli citizens received a rare glimpse of their activities around the country and deep inside hostile and dangerous territory”. In most of the Israeli media, the Palestinians were portrayed as terrorists without any evidence to suggest that they had committed violent activity.
So far this year, Israeli occupation forces have killed over 20 Palestinians in the West Bank with direct use of force, with most of these killings happening during the escalation in Ukraine. Israeli settlement expansion has also ensued in East Jerusalem, as the International Community pays little attention to the ongoing tensions.
Israeli arrest campaigns have additionally intensified in the West Bank, often aided by Palestinian Authority intelligence information. It is predicted now, by Israeli security analysts, that during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, another escalation is expected across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, which has the possibility of sparking another war with the Palestinian armed resistance factions in the Gaza Strip. Israeli settler provocations, which the government is not moving to prevent, are most likely to start a new round of violence if they go too far. Hamas has warned Israel that if its illegal settler extremist gangs, which last year attempted to storm al-Aqsa mosque whilst chanting “death to Arabs”, are allowed to commit such an aggression, Israel can expect a tough response from Gaza.
Last December, Israel’s military revised its rules of engagement and now permits its soldiers to fire on Palestinian stone-throwers with live ammunition, even when they no longer present a threat. This means that any Palestinian they consider as having been a threat, even someone who is running away with their back turned, can be shot with live ammunition with the intent to kill. The ruling means that if the Israeli military concludes that a Palestinian minor — normally those throwing stones are teenagers — is concluded to have thrown a stone at any point during a confrontation, the soldiers can justify killing them. Although Israeli soldiers routinely kill Palestinians who do not pose any threat to soldiers anyway, the Israeli military ruling was a green-light to soldiers to essentially go crazy and shoot to kill when they see fit.
The Palestinian public in the West Bank, specifically those in the refugee camps and villages, are growing more revolutionary which poses a direct threat to their quasi-governmental rulers who command the Palestinian Authority. The PA, which has little to no public support outside its employees, is also becoming much more heavy handed with the Palestinian public as well, attacking political party members and going after armed groups and their affiliates.
However, the Palestinian Authority itself does not benefit from Israel’s escalatory strategy, and has called out the Israeli governments use of the Ukraine crisis in order to crack down harder on Palestinians. Although the PA wishes to violently quell rebellion, when Israel uses overwhelming force — which by far supersedes the brutality of the PA — it only works to further energize the West Bank public towards a revolt. If there is another uprising in the West Bank, the job of the PA forces is to shut it down and work as Israel’s ally in keeping the Palestinians under control, whilst living under military occupation. This will inevitably lead to them becoming a target of the revolutionaries as well. The further this violence escalates, the closer we come to the collapse of the PA — and Israel only seems to be speeding up that process.