What will come of the recent escalation in the West Bank?Thursday 06/07/2023

Last week, rockets were fired from Jenin, in the West Bank, toward Israel for the first time in 18 years. This week, Israel launched its biggest operation in the West Bank in decades. Tension and violence are escalating between Israel and the Palestinians in the West Bank, but what is the cause, and what does this mean in the larger question of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
The Israeli military operation in Jenin is a counter-terrorism campaign that is mainly a response to a string of terrorist attacks in recent weeks. On June 19, Israel launched a raid in Jenin in search of several Palestinian terrorists planning attacks in Israel, and they were quickly met with armed resistance (Lynfield, “Israeli Forces launch raid in Jenin”).
A day after this, on June 20, two Palestinians killed four Israelis at a settlement near Nablus, in the West Bank. Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, which operates out of Gaza, claimed responsibility for the gunmen (Gritten, Four Israelis killed by Palestinian gunmen”).
Four days later, on June 24, another terrorist, claimed to be a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, opened fire on Israeli soldiers at the major checkpoint connecting Ramallah and East Jerusalem (Fabian, “Shooting at checkpoint near Jerusalem”). The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade is the military wing of Fatah, a Palestinian political group which lost the only election, in 2006, to Hamas but still has power in the West Bank.
Now, this week, after mounting tensions in the region, Israel has launched its biggest operation in the West Bank in two decades. Israel has announced that this counter-terrorism operation is to destabilize terrorist groups in the West Bank which have become too comfortable and too dangerous.
The operation has involved numerous drone strikes and an armed brigade on the ground, targeting terrorist hot spots in Jenin and in the refugee camp in the city. Israel has claimed that this operation is not aimed at taking and holding territory (Mckernan, “Biggest West Bank incursion in 20 years”), but to disable terrorists from carrying out attacks on Israel.
These recent terrorist attacks, and the Israeli response, is a result of decades of conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. The two have never been able to agree on borders or on coexistence, sparking several wars and many operations. This recent violence is an extension of the historic conflict, but it is influenced by modern issues, and it is being fought between complex parties.
The Palestinians launch terrorist attacks against Israel because they do not want the Jewish state to exist in the land they view as theirs. Several of the groups that hold power and operate in Palestinian land are not interested in a political solution, and often refuse to negotiate with Israel. The groups responsible for the recent attacks, mainly Hamas and Fatah, both have military wings that operate in the West Bank, and specifically in Jenin.
The groups receive much of their funding from Iran and call for radical Israeli cessions to achieve peace. Hamas wants Israel to fall back to the pre-1967 borders, they want to grant all Palestinians the right of return, and they want what is now Israel to become an Islamic state. Of course, these demands are impossible, and they are used as an excuse for violence.
Since Israel, obviously, refuses to cooperate with Palestinian demands, terrorist groups have been able to grow and operate in Palestinian land. Terrorist groups have found a safe haven in the West Bank, and specifically in Jenin, and the most recent Israeli operation shows that Israel refuses to allow terrorists to operate in the region. If Palestinian authorities continue to foster these terrorist groups, Israel may continue to launch operations against them, escalating the conflict between the parties.
This operation, the biggest in twenty years, may be a sign of more to come between Israel, the Palestinian groups in the West Bank, and the Palestinians across the rest of the region.

By Ethan Wenger – JIJ Intern

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