Internationally, there has been concern about the new outbreak of violence between Israel and Palestinians. Tonight there were airstrikes on both sides, following yesterday’s violence in Nablus in the occupied West Bank. At least 11 people were killed and about 100 injured in the raid by the Israeli army, according to the Palestinians.
Even before the attacks that followed last night, which claimed no victims as far as known, EU foreign policy chief Borrell expressed his concerns. “The European Union is deeply concerned by the increasing violence in the West Bank,” he wrote in a statement. “It is of the utmost importance that all parties work to (…) defuse tensions to prevent further loss of life.” Minister Hoekstra of Foreign Affairs also emphasized the importance of de-escalation.
What has happened recently, why is that and is there a solution?
What happened yesterday in Nablus?
The army said it had received information about the hiding place of three terror suspects. When soldiers surrounded the building in question, they were shot at. It ended in an hour-long firefight between the army and Palestinian militants.
Several buildings were riddled with bullets, which Palestinians say killed eleven people, including the three wanted suspects. Palestinian militant organizations vowed revenge.
The outbreak of violence has not come out of the blue. Last year was the deadliest in the West Bank in nearly twenty years, the United Nations recently established. More than 150 Palestinians and more than 20 Israelis were killed, according to the UN.
Since then, the spiral of violence has only grown: since the beginning of the year, according to counts from international news agencies, about 60 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli violence and about 10 Israelis by attacks by Palestinians.
Why is the West Bank the epicenter of the violence?
Israel and the Palestinian people have been at odds over the habitat of the Palestinians for decades. Most of them live in the West Bank, but Palestinians also live in the Gaza Strip and in Israel itself.
The proposed two-state solution calls for an independent Palestinian state in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. But for the time being, Palestinians only have a form of self-government there in certain parts. Negotiations about a state of their own have been at a standstill for years.
At the same time, more and more Israeli settlers are settling in the West Bank. These settlements are illegal under international law, but the settlers believe they have a right to the land on historical grounds.
What is the reason for the recent increase in violence?
An explanation is difficult to give. It’s up to both parties, says NOS correspondent Nasrah Habiballah. “It is clear that the new far-right Israeli government has acted anything but appeasing.” She refers, among other things, to the visit of the Minister of National Security to the Temple Mount in East Jerusalem. He also walked past the Al-Aqsa mosque, which is very sensitive for Palestinians.
Furthermore, the Netanyahu government has announced a tougher approach to terror suspects. There was also a plan to have the houses of attackers demolished more quickly, even if other family members live there.
According to Israel, the measures are intended to frighten people in order to prevent attacks. “But according to critics, it does nothing more than create hatred in people who already feel they have little to lose,” says Habiballah.
Meanwhile, it seems that Palestinians are increasingly inclined to turn to violence. Especially among young people, anger is growing about the occupation under which they live and the hopelessness of a better future. They have also had enough of what they consider to be too cautious of President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority and are joining armed militant groups. Resulting in deadly attacks and violent resistance to Israeli army operations.
Is there a solution in sight?
“Most people here are gloomy about that,” says correspondent Habiballah. “There has been no talk of a peace process for years, that has come to a complete standstill. And with the announcement to further expand the settlements in the West Bank with at least 10,000 houses, the prospect of a separate Palestinian state seems to be disappearing further.”
The international community also seems to be doing little about this at the moment. Several European countries and the United States have already spoken out against the expansion plans, but their statements seem to have little effect.
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