RAMALLAH — The Palestinian Authority is losing its position of strength in the West Bank security affairs because of escalating Israeli military operations, including daily raids of villages and towns in areas ruled by the Palestinians or under Israeli-Palestinian joint governance, Palestinian analysts said.
Since March, the Israeli army has escalated its raids in Palestinian towns and villages in the West Bank to almost a daily routine, killing about 80 Palestinians and arresting some 1,500 others, as part of what the Israeli army called a “mission to thwart terrorism” launched after a series of Palestinian attacks that killed at least 19 Israelis in the territory.
Aviv Kochavi, the Israeli army chief, warned on Sept. 5 that such military operation will intensify if deemed necessary, blaming the increased Palestinian attacks on the lack of Palestinian security control in parts of the West Bank.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry later issued a statement saying the Israeli government “bears full responsibility for the current campaign of escalation, which threatens to explode the conflict into a cycle of violence, and raises the alarm bells against … any efforts to resolve the conflict.”
Likewise, Ramallah-based political analyst Ashraf al-Ajrami and other Palestinian observers highlighted “Israeli incursions” in the areas under the Palestinian jurisdiction as a major factor behind the helplessness of the Palestinian Authority in security affairs.
“The Palestinians are getting killed, injured and arrested every day during the Israeli incursions into the occupied Palestinian territories, without differentiating between areas A, B or C, mainly in Jenin’s area in the northern West Bank,” al-Ajrami told Xinhua, referring to three administrative divisions in the West Bank that have been largely in place since the mid-1990s.
Back then, Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization signed a pair of agreements known as the Oslo Accords, agreeing on the transfer of the control of major Palestinian cities and towns in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip to a newly-created Palestinian Authority.
Pending a final arrangement, the accords also established the West Bank’s three administrative divisions, with area A under full Palestinian jurisdiction, area B jointly administered by Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and area C under Israeli security and administrative control.
According to al-Ajrami, the ongoing Israeli raids in areas under Palestinian Authority’s jurisdiction have not only undermined the latter’s role, but reveal the Israeli authorities’ rhetoric about strengthening the Palestinian Authority.
“The ongoing Israeli army incursions, arrests, cold-blooded killings, house demolitions, settlements, and the endless settlers’ attacks on Palestinians and their property did not achieve any security for Israel,” he explained.
“No one can expect the Palestinians to accept this reality, nor the Palestinian Authority to have the material and moral strength to impose security in a way that does not affect the interests of the Israelis,” al-Ajrami concluded.
In August, probably the most violent month since March, Palestinians carried out 172 attacks in the West Bank, including 23 shootings and 135 incidents of throwing Molotov cocktails and homemade grenades, according to Israeli media reports.
Describing the recent spasm of Palestinian attacks as an “intifada,” Hani al-Masri, director of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy Research and Strategic Studies (Masarat), said these incidents are characterized by “a new combination of spontaneous, individual armed actions and popular resistance.”
“However, all the incidents, which came in the power vacuum left by the Palestinian resistance factions, have increasingly made the Israeli solution the only one on the table,” al-Masri noted. – Xinhua