West Bank, low-intensity war

West Bank, low-intensity war

You cannot understand the war in Gaza – which the international press has no access to – without visiting the West Bank, and Hebron in particular. The citizens of the Strip who saw their homes and lives destroyed are as much Palestinian as the residents of the West Bank, and many have family ties to both enclaves. The two occupied areas are separated by less than a hundred kilometers. The cities of Gaza now destroyed by Israeli bombs were more like the cities of the West Bank: chaotic cities in development and full of contradictions, like those of any Arab country.

There are streets in Ramallah where the concentration of Mercedes, Alfa Romeo, BMW, or other luxury cars clashes with the poverty of the refugee camp there. In Nablus or Bethlehem there are fee-paying schools, modern shopping centers and trendy cafes; In Jenin, there is a luxury hotel built by an immigrant who made his fortune in the Emirates.

These are facts unknown to most Israelis, who have never visited Palestine and who went from mistrust of Palestinians to fear and hatred after the terrorist attack by Hamas, the Islamist movement they equate with the entire Palestinian population. However, although the armed arms of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other political formations operate in the West Bank, you do not see armed civilians in the streets, unlike in Israel.

for all Checkpoint To enter the West Bank from Israel there is a large red sign three meters high warning Israelis that crossing the checkpoint poses a “danger to their lives”. However, some 700,000 settlers in the West Bank – including East Jerusalem – live in 279 settlements, which are illegal according to international law, half of which are also illegal according to Israeli regulations, which recognize only 127 settlements, while the other 152 are illegal. She is named Outposts Outposts or Wild colonies Which the extreme nationalists continue to confirm.

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In 30 years, the number of settlers increased from 200,000 to 700,000 settlers in 279 illegal settlements.

The number of settlers was approaching 200,000 before the Oslo Accords in 1993, which divided the West Bank into three areas: A, under the exclusive control of the Palestinian National Authority; b, governed by the People’s National Army but under Israeli military control; and C, which is run exclusively by Israel. Today, more than 60% of the occupied territory is Area C, which is growing as settlements increase while blocking roads and access to Palestinians. Now, in addition, Checkpoint The numbers of military forces doubled inside Areas A and B, with roads and entrances cut off without prior warning.

One fear expressed by the international community is that Israel will exploit the Gaza war to emulate the West Bank model and confine Gazans who survived the massacre to a smaller area of ​​the current occupied territories, where there were no settlers, and which were already withdrawn after the Oslo Accords. The proposal that Benjamin Netanyahu’s government sent these days to the Arab countries with which it maintains relations went in this direction, with the creation of “buffer zones.”

While the Palestinians watch on television the massacre of their citizens in Gaza, tension is rising in the West Bank, where the army carries out raids every day to carry out arrests, mostly preventive, to remove from circulation those who registered as sympathizers with Hamas or jihad who “did nothing,” he explained. Vanguard In Ramallah as president
Palestinian Prisoner Abdullah Zaghari Association.

This association estimates the number of detainees at 3,660 since October 7. With 130 minors there are approximately 8,000
Palestinian prisoners in prisons

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More than 60% of the West Bank is governed by Israel alone, and the fear is that the same thing will happen in Gaza

In this low-intensity war in the West Bank, military incursions cause deaths almost every day, most of them in one of the 19 refugee camps, where bulldozers outpace soldiers, destroying homes and leaving the urban fabric in tatters.

The army and settlers – and to a lesser extent – have killed 265 Palestinians since the Hamas attack, and 479 since the beginning of the year – 100 minors – the bloodiest since the second intifada.

Troop actions are often captured on video, such as the killing of an 8-year-old boy in Jenin on November 29, who was unarmed and posed no threat to the soldiers. However, there is no open judicial investigation.

MSF is preparing for a health scenario similar to what is happening in Gaza in the West Bank, and has brought in staff with experience in armed conflicts, such as Enrique Garcia, the organization’s coordinator in Hebron. He says: “We are preparing for the scenario that we see will most likely happen in this region, which is a complete siege very similar to what is happening now in Jenin, but more difficult.” Vanguard At the organization’s headquarters in Hebron. “We are preparing to close the entire West Bank area,” adds Garcia, who admits that this is a fixed approach.

Palestinians in the West Bank fear that Israel will turn against them once the war in Gaza ends

“The idea is to have a healthy structure to respond to it
He added: “A humanitarian emergency without the need for external support for several months,” explaining that his bombing
The plan is to “create medical islands that can communicate internally.”

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Hebron is an area full of settlements, even in…
The only city in the West Bank
which is divided with a Checkpoint In the center to reach a neighborhood in which 1,000 Jews and 35,000 Arabs live, and they are subject to ferry control.

In one of the settlements near the center, the far-right Minister of Security, Itamar Ben Gvir, lives.

“The colonists are getting more aggressive, and there are conflicts every day,” Garcia says. He adds: “They patrol the area all the time, scolding the Palestinians,” but stresses that the army is generally present to prevent accidents.

Since the Hamas attack, Israel has arrested 3,660 Palestinians, 130 of whom are minors

“Depending on which army group you belong to, the soldiers either support the settlers or limit them, although now they are restricting them,” he says.

Garcia explains that the usual procedure for settlers is to “shoot” Palestinian farmers, burn their homes or kill their livestock to scare them into leaving, and in this way preserve their lands and expand the settlements. Many times they are killed.

In the West Bank, where 3.3 million people live – including East Jerusalem – an atmosphere of war prevails, just as in Israel. As in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Jenin, Nablus, or any other place
Without tourists, many businesses and restaurants are operating at half speed and closing than before
The usual hotels are almost empty.

People are saved and afraid that Benjamin Netanyahu will stand against them after what is happening in Gaza.

The colonists became increasingly aggressive, shooting peasants to frighten them into leaving their lands

So close and yet. Discontent between Palestinians and Israelis is getting worse.

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