Avi Issacharoff / New Palestinian protests indicate West Bank unrest is due to erupt (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Avi Issacharoff 02/26/12)
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The Palestinian street, which has been indifferent over the past four
and a half years to events around it, including the Fatah-Hamas
split, is showing much more motivation to face off against the IDF.
Stormy protests over the past few weeks throughout the West Bank and
in East Jerusalem, which reached a climax yesterday, may not be a
negligible and coincidental series of incidents. It seems that after
years of lying dormant, things are starting to heat up again in the
Talat Ramieh was killed Friday in a clash with Israel Defense Force
soldiers, which broke out following earlier struggles between
hundreds of Muslim worshippers and police on the Temple Mount in
Jerusalem´s Old City. Those clashes started after Muslim worshippers
hurled stones at Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall following
Friday prayers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The violence spread to villages around the capital, which are
becoming a familiar backdrop to clashes between Palestinians and
security forces. Yesterday, too, protests continued after Ramieh´s
funeral, from which hundreds set out for the Qalandiyah checkpoint,
where nine people were injured in violent confrontations.
It is difficult not to link the events in the West Bank over the
weekend with the hunger strike (which has ended for the time being )
by senior Islamic Jihad activist Khader Adnan. The strike by Adnan,
an administrative detainee among hundreds who spent more than one
term in Palestinian Authority jails, led to violent demonstrations
for several days running, mainly in Ramallah.
Friday it was apparently a rumor that a group of Jewish extremists
was calling to save the Temple Mount from Muslims that led to violent
unrest among worshippers.
These individual events seem to create a bigger picture. The
Palestinian street, which has been indifferent over the past four and
a half years to events around it, including the Fatah-Hamas split, is
showing much more motivation to face off against the IDF.
There are several reasons for this awakening. Signs that the rift is
healing between Fatah and Hamas is bringing the "unity of the
struggle against the occupier" into the headlines. The Arab Spring
has also created the feeling that popular demonstrations can effect
change on the ground. Above all, the diplomatic impasse and continued
construction in the settlements is creating a sense of despair among
The dead end in talks between Israel and the Palestinians, along with
quiet on the security front, has led many cabinet ministers and right-
wing groups to wonder aloud about the possibility of maintaining the
status quo. To their minds, continuing security cooperation with the
PA, along with certain continued economic benefits and improvement in
the quality of life in the West Bank, will help keep things quiet for
many years to come.
But they do not take into account Palestinians´ extreme frustration
in light of the lack of diplomatic progress. That frustration leads
to unrest over every issue - such as a hunger strike by a Palestinian
prisoner - and might lead to many more protests.
Ramieh was killed, according to the IDF, after he threw firecrackers
at troops and after one of the soldiers, who felt his life was in
danger, shot and killed him.
PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has long been warning that quiet would
not continue on the security front. Yesterday he published an angry
statement that the Quartet´s ignoring Israel´s actions is leading to
Palestinian deaths. In a rare move, Fayyad criticized the Quartet´s
policy of focusing on renewing diplomatic talks while ignoring what
is happening on the ground.
Without reference to Fayyad´s warnings, the demonstrations of the
past few weeks might not turn into a third intifada, but they
probably will not die down in the near future. (© Copyright 2012
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