War in the West Bank

The rules of the game are changing for the Israeli occupation.

Around a year and half ago, I met with a prominent Arab leader when he stopped off in London on his way to a major international conference. The first question he asked me was who I thought would succeed President Mahmoud Abbas as head of the Palestinian Authority, what policies that successor would pursue, and how much popular support they could expect.

I replied that there would be no successor to Abbas. The likely alternative would be resistance, a different kind of sophisticated armed resistance that would be difficult to control.

My interlocutor was surprised and thought I was exaggerating. I hope he recalls that encounter now as he follows the profusion of armed resistance operations in the West Bank days carried out by a variety of new and established groups, with the PA looking on like a false witness who has nothing to do with what is going on.

The armed settlers in the West Bank, whose numbers have risen to some 800,000, are rapidly turning into terrorist militias that are above the law, protected by the Israeli army and US and European international cover, to carry out the plans of Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies Bin-Gvir and Smotrich. But the results could be contrary to those intended, by provoking a Palestinian reaction that rattles the security and stability of the Zionist state in a way that could ultimately lead to its collapse.

The arming of the Palestinian people in the West Bank, and their Syrian comrades in the occupied Golan Heights who are also in revolt, will be a key option in the coming period. When the occupation authorities fail in their duty to protect the people living under their occupation from the murder and arson practised by the settler militias, arming the people becomes the only legitimate and logical option.

We saw those militias in action on Wednesday, carrying out pogroms against Palestinians towns and villages in the areas of Ramallah (seat of the PA), Nablus, and al-Bireh, especially the village of Turmusaya where one Palestinian was killed and dozens were injured and hundreds of homes and vehicles were torched.

When the Nazi minister Ben-Gvir demands the flattening of houses, Netanyahu outbids him by announcing the construction of 1,000 settlement units in the colony of Eli (scene of Tuesday’s Palestinian reprisal operation in which four settlers were killed and seven soldiers injured), and Smotrich threatens a massive military operation in the northern West Bank involving tens of thousands of troops we are no longer dealing with a state but with a mob of gangsters. They should be treated as such by the Arab world and international community.

The sweeping military operation the trio are talking about is meant to resemble Operation Defensive Shield which was launched in 2002 in a bid to crush the first armed intifada. Thirty thousand troops and hundreds of tanks and armoured vehicles were deployed for the purpose but failed to achieve their objective. That intifada did not end until 2005, and not because of that armed operation, but due to the international fraud that the PA fell for featuring the ‘Roadmap’ and ‘Quartet’ lie.

It is worth recalling that at the time, the PA’s security forces sided with the armed intifada and did their duty of using their weapons to serve and protect their people. The current 60,000-strong PA security forces can be expected to follow the same course and take to the streets to protect their people, especially with the PA leadership in abeyance.

The West Bank is now in a state of war. It seems our Syrian brothers and sisters in the Golan Heights have subscribed to the united fronts theory and begun their own intifada. If the enemy deploying Apache helicopters, drones, and tanks is not war, what is?

Today’s resistance operations are not instant reactions to avenge the martyrs in Jenin Refugee Camp but the product of careful planning and strong determination. This is what makes them different to previous ones, and puts the shivers up the settlers throughout Palestine.

The Israeli website Kippa quoted one reserve general as saying that Monday’s events in Jenin were unprecedented: it was not a matter of a few gunmen firing at armoured vehicles, but a real battle involving more than a hundred fighters. Other generals told the intelligence website Walla that the sophisticated ambush laid at Jenin and other operations in the West Bank have changed the rules of the game and presage a major new escalation in the region.

A major escalation indeed. When our people in the Golan rise up, and Walid Junblatt changes his tune and calls for the revolutionaries of Jenin, Nablus, and the Golan to be provided with arms, then the writing is truly on the wall. And more is yet to come.

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