Analysis: There’s a different kind of escalation brewing in the West Bank

A graffiti reading 'enough with the administrative edicts, price tag, revenge' spray-painted on a wall in Palestinian village in the West Bank, 2018
A graffiti reading ‘enough with the administrative edicts, price tag, revenge’ spray-painted on a wall in Palestinian village in the West Bank, 2018. (photo: Israel Police)
The rise of settler violence against Palestinians is likely to continue as the army, the police and Israeli society stand by passively — or even encourage attacks.

By Amira Hass | Haaretz | Mar 6, 2019

Israeli security officials have noted the rise in nationalist crime by Jews against Palestinians.

The noticeable escalation in the West Bank is firstly due to settler violence toward Palestinians. And the assumption among Palestinians must be that this escalation will only continue, as the army and police, as well as Israeli society as a whole, stand by without trying to or succeeding in halting it, in the best case, and supporting and encouraging it, in the other case.

This anxiety can be felt in everyday Palestinian conversations about what the near future might bring, in the choice of travel routes that stay as far from certain settlements as possible and in deciding not to go out to work in the field or to take animals to graze because of the proximity of violent settlements. The expected entry of avowed Kahanists into the Knesset, and with the prime minister’s encouragement yet, shows the breakdown of more barriers in Israeli society against the wish-fulfillment of those who dream of mass expulsion.

At the same time, the sense of popular urgency isn’t finding expression in the politics of the rival Palestinian leaderships. Hamas and Fatah continued this week with their mutual flexing of muscles: Hamas organized a mass protest in Gaza calling for Mahmoud Abbas’s ouster as Palestinian Authority president, while the latter attended a first-of-its-kind summit of EU and Arab countries in Sharm al-Sheikh, asking for the participating countries’ protection against the hardening of Israeli policy against his people. Fatah responded with demonstrations for Abbas in West Bank cities, while Hamas arrested dozens of Fatah members in Gaza who had also called for shows of support for their leader. Police in Gaza dispersed and attacked the Fatah protesters in the Nuseirat and Jabalya refugee camps, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights reported in a critical statement about the Hamas actions.

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