'In light of tense period, IDF should reconsider boosting its forces in the West Bank'
Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg
The embers in the West Bank have been glowing for months now, but the four Palestinians killed in recent clashes with the IDF are what served as a the hot wind that raised the flames of terror. Those who thought these incidents would go by without a Palestinian "price tag" are probably unfamiliar with the region – deaths and injuries on the Palestinian side were always the direct cause of the loss of control and violent outbursts, like in the two intifadas.
The IDF and Shin Bet are aware of this fact, and are constantly conveying to their people on the ground: Don’t create the unnecessary friction which may result in casualties. But the ground has rules of its own, and what happens is that an increasing number of detention operations end in riots and deaths. The Palestinian level of response to arrests is more violent, as the IDF no longer arrests only stone throwers but also terror organization activists, and every friction with them ends in fire. The Shin Bet, of course, cannot afford to give up on the arrest tool, and so the current dance of death is created: Operation, revenge, arrest, retaliation, and so on and so forth.
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If until the past month the level of violence in the West Bank was defined as 3 out of 10, the current wave of terror attacks has raised it to level 5. It's not an intifada yet, because it's not an overall popular uprising of the Palestinian public, but more of a "fauda" – anarchy in certain areas.
The reasons for the loss of control on the ground stem both from the Israeli side and from the Palestinian side. On the Israeli side, the defense provided by the fence is weakening, both because forces have been cut down along the fence and because of many breaches. In addition, there appears to be an easement in providing work permits in Israel – because of the peace negotiations and the attempt to bolster Abbas – and as the number of legal residents in Israel goes up, so does the number of illegal residents, who generate the terror within the Green Line.
On the Palestinian side, on the other hand, the "one weapon and only in the hands of the PA" slogans are weakening, and gunmen are wandering the streets on a regular basis. In certain areas, like Jenin and Nablus, the security organizations are failing to gain control of the Tanzim forces, and opposition elements from Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front are making every possible effort to sabotage the peace process.
In the meantime, on the Palestinian ground, there is an assumption that the current negotiations with Israel have already failed. This frustration causes one to feel fed up with the Palestinian Authority, and encourages taking the law into one's own hands, what Israeli officials refer to as "the lone terrorist syndrome." Israel and the Palestinians – despite the Kerry initiative – are entering a very tense period, and so the army should reconsider boosting its forces in the West Bank territories.