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Latest Killings in Occupied Territories portend a tumultuous period ahead

The latest spate of killings in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, which claimed the lives of  as many as 48 Palestinians including at least 15 children and many other civilians, is  precipitating agitation and turmoil in the Occupied Territories.

Indeed, unlike previous rounds of hostilities, the latest round was started by Israel without any real provocation from the Palestinian side. This is why most Palestinians feel provoked and violated.

The killing of additional 4 Palestinians in the West Bank on 9 August made an already volatile situation even more incendiary, prompting pundits to warn that the overall situation has already reached the explosive point. 

None the less, large-scale Palestinian protests, even if peaceful and non-violent,   would likely invite stringent Israeli reactions in the form of killing and maiming yet more Palestinian in the Occupied Territories, which in turn would fuel more turmoil and violence. It is well known that Israel is almost innately eager to demonstrate that it alone is in charge.  This alone should be sufficient to explain Israel’s relentless efforts to appease its insatiable security ego and placate insolent settlers and extreme right-wingers who are wielding immense political power in government and society. 

Ominous time in the offing

A preview of the ominous period ahead occurred in Nablus in the northern West Bank Tuesday when Israeli troops fired anti-tank missiles at an old structure,  killing Ibrahim Nabulsi who barricaded himself in the old house in the city’s old quarter. He was killed immediately, along with two other men, reportedly affiliated with Fatah’s Aqsa Brigade

The killings drew angry reactions from Fatah activists in various  parts of the West Bank, where shops and businesses were asked to shut off and tires were set on fire.

In Hebron, the southernmost and most populous West Bank town,   which had witnessed a rare extended period of calm, Israeli troops shot and killed 17-year-old  Mumin Yasin Jaber at the Bab el-Zawiya business district in downtown. Eyewitnesses intimated that the boy at no point posed a real threat to crack soldiers hundreds of meters away.

Mumen Jaber Family
Mumen Jaber’s family’s reaction When they were informed about his death.

 According to the Israeli account, the boy was hurling stones on soldiers. A number of other boys were injured, sustaining non-fatal gunshot wounds.

The killing of the Hebron boy seemed to carry a stern message that the Israeli occupation forces would from now on shoot to kill at the slightest provocation, especially in the event the Palestinian populace embarked on a fresh uprising. 

This ominous prediction should be taken seriously, given the proximity of the upcoming Israeli elections and the likelihood of an even more extreme right wing  government assuming power after the elections, slated for 1 November.

Read more: Best Prescription For Wooing Voters In Israel: Spill More Palestinian Blood

It is common knowledge that incumbent Israel leaders facing elections tend to display exaggerated cruelty and spill more Palestinian blood to increase their popularity and attract more voters from an increasingly jingoistic Israeli electorate.

Predictable PA paralysis

For its part, the Palestinian Authority (PA)  is reacting quite feebly to the latest Israeli escalation in Gaza and the West Bank. PA Chief spokesman Nabil Abu Rudena reiterated the same words heard ad nauseam following every bloody Israeli rampage. He said the PA condemned the Israeli aggression in the strongest terms, adding that “we urge the international community to provide protection for  our people from the killing machine of the Israeli army.”

Read also: Palestinians protest high cost of living amid PA paralysis

Abu Rudeina also castigated Israel for “using the blood of our children as a fuel for the upcoming Israeli elections.”

Never the less,  Abu Rudeina can’t be expected to reflect a better state of affair of an entity that is living its bleakest period ever,  since its creation following the conclusion of the Oslo Accords in 1993.

Some observers opine that the PA is nearing the implosion point. Earlier this week, the aging and ailing PA President Mahmoud Abbas decided to withdraw security detail from Tawfik Tiraw, the former Intelligence Chief of the PA. This included withdrawing security personnel outside Tirawi’s home and taking their firearms as punitive action against the prominent former aide of Yasser Arafat.

 The decision came days after the unceremonious firing of Tirawi from his post as “Head of the board of trustees” of the PA military Academy in Jericho. A new Board has been appointed, mostly comprising  Abbas loyalists.

When Tirawi was asked why he was sacked from his post, he said rather tersely: “Ask the president.”  However, it is widely believed that serious disagreements between Tirawi and Hussein Sheikh, stand behind the sacking. Observers in the occupied territories contend that Sheikh is being groomed by  Israel and Abbas to be the next PA leader.

The PA is also undergoing an unprecedentedly harsh financial crisis.

To exacerbate the crisis even further, Israel last week decided to withhold the transfer of some $180 million to the PA to  “offset” stipends paid to thousands of Palestinian prisoners languishing in Israeli jails as well as to the families of Palestinians killed while resisting the Israeli occupation.

The withholding of the taxes and customs funds, which Israel collects on behalf of the PA, epitomizes the asymmetrical relations between the Israeli master who holds all the reins and controls all the money,  and the helpless vanquished Palestinian supplicant whose very survival depends on the occupier’s good will.

Last week the PA finance Minister Shukri Bishara said the PA was at the bottom of a deep hole, financially speaking. He appealed to the teachers’ union to be considerate and refrain from carrying out threats to declare an open strike in protest against low salaries,  high inflation and skyrocketing costs of living.

Bad timing for Palestinians

The latest Israeli escalation in the occupied Territories comes at a time when the attention of the international community is focused on the Ukrainian crisis and the mounting tension between the U.S. and China over Taiwan. Hence, the relatively modest solidarity with the Palestinians in comparison to previous rounds of Israeli aggression. 

Moreover, Arab solidarity was also conspicuously less than it was before the spate of normalization between Israel and such regimes as UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, Morocco and Saudi Arabia. This shows the much-celebrated Abraham Accords were actually a sharp dagger pierced in the heart of the Palestinian cause rather than a portent of peace as alleged by dishonest Israeli, American and some ignorant or perfidious Arab officials.

Read more: “Jewish State”: A Nazi Concept Implying Another Final Nakba

Finally, the decision of Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gants to up the ante in the occupied territories is likely to strengthen their most extreme religious and nationalist Zionist competitors who seem more convinced than ever that now is the most opportune time to liquidate the Palestinian cause, thinking that international and regional conditions are conducive to realizing such a ghoulish feat. (end)

Khaled Amayreh
Khalid Amayreh (Arabic: خالد عمايرة‎‎, b. 1957 Hebron) is a Palestinian journalist based in Dura, near Hebron, West Bank. He is an award-winning reporter who has contributed hundreds of articles to the Al-Jazeera English website from the Occupied West Bank. His field includes, inter alia, strategic studies with emphasis on the Arab world, Iran after the Shah, the Arab-Israeli conflict, contemporary Islamic movements, religious Zionism, comparative religion. Shiite Islam and failure of democratization in the Arab world. He received most of his formal education in the US where he obtained two degrees in journalism, a BA from the University of Oklahoma and a Master's degree in the same field from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. He has published numerous studies and articles on a variety of subjects in both English and Arabic. He has also written five books. The title of his MA thesis in the US was “the religious Press in America and the Palestinian question from 1967-1983. Amayreh has worked for the following media: Middle East International, London, al-Jazeera English, Ahram Weekly (Cairo), UAE TV, and several other Arabic publications. Amayreh's sole agenda is to spread and disseminate the truth about the enduring Palestinian/Israeli conflict which seems to defy all peace efforts. Honesty are rectitude are paramount for him. Per him, unfortunately, this conflict is unlikely to be resolved in the foreseeable future or even during our lifetime.

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