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Rising Tension in the West Bank as Hamas Calls for Armed Confrontation

Rising Tension in the West Bank as Hamas Calls for Armed Confrontation

Thursday, 13 December, 2018 - 08:30
Israeli forces clash with Palestinians in Jerusalem’s Old City. (File Photo: AFP)

Hamas Movement has supported broader armed clashes with Israel in the West Bank, after considerable tension prevailed there amid intermittent attacks by Palestinians followed by more killings and arrests by Israel and increased raids in Ramallah and other cities.

However, Hamas' calls have been rejected by the Palestinian Authority (PA), which wants to avoid a further deterioration in the situation.

Hamas politburo member Khalil al-Hayya said that special operations such as the "ground-zero" operation in Gaza is spreading to the West Bank.

Hinting at the Authority, Hayya indicated that "our people need unity...and not security coordination with the occupation.” He called for fighting the Israeli occupation in all forms.

The Islamic Jihad Movement voiced Hayya’s calls for escalation in the West Bank, and lauded Palestinians for resisting and fighting the occupation. The movement stated that clashes revive resistance everywhere and with every possible means.

The PA believes that Hamas wants to inflame the West Bank in order to weaken it and spread chaos while maintaining stability in the Gaza Strip.

“Israel wants chaos and weakening of power,” security sources told Asharq Al-Awsat said, saying Hamas also looks forward to such a situation in the West Bank.

“But the logic of the Palestinian leadership is different. Israel must assume responsibility for its occupation, and this is done by stepping up popular resistance. Fighting Israel is legitimate; but not within an agenda that can lead to destruction,” they explained. 

The Authority believes that the Israeli escalation in the West Bank has its objectives, first of which is to pressure the Palestinian leadership into implementing decisions linked to agreements with Tel Aviv.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami al-Hamdallah stressed that the leadership, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, and the people will not be intimidated or subjected to blackmail.

Hamdallah strongly condemned the Israeli army raids on the WAFA News Agency offices and Palestinian cities, camps, and villages during which the Israeli military injured many citizens, using rubber coated steel bullets, live ammunition as well as tear-gas.

Hamdallah was speaking after the weekly meeting of the Palestinian Cabinet in the city of Ramallah.

In the past two days, Israeli occupation forces have stormed Ramallah, where the headquarters of President Mahmoud Abbas, the government and most of the official institutions are based, resulting in violent confrontations. The Israeli army also broke into WAFA’s offices, and besieged the headquarters of the Ministry of Finance and other facilities.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry strongly condemned the recent attacks of Israeli occupation forces and settlers against Palestinian citizens.

“This incitement is the latest attempt in a systematic and widespread campaign launched by settler terrorists against the Palestinian people. Such campaigns are emblematic of the Israeli illegal settlement regime and partake into a broader Israeli policy of hatred and discrimination, supported and engineered by successive Israeli government officials,” said the ministry in a statement published by WAFA.

“Whether at the hands of the Israeli occupying forces or the settlers, the lives of the Palestinian people are in constant danger,” the Ministry warned.

The Ministry called on the international community to condemn the Israeli incitement and uphold its responsibilities towards the Palestinian people, adding that the “Israeli colonial occupation should be held responsible for this terrorism and criminality.”

The Palestinian concern of escalations comes as the West Bank witnesses sporadic operations against Israelis.

Last Sunday, Palestinians fired at Israelis near Ofar settlement , wounding seven settlers. This is the most serious attack since October 7, when Ashraf Naawlah fired shots at Israelis, killing them near the industrial area of Burkan north of the West Bank.

Israel went on high alert to arrest the perpetrators.

Meanwhile, the Israeli army said it had foiled several ramming attempts in the West Bank, including two on Tuesday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised Tuesday that no Jew will be “uprooted from his home” while he leads the country.

Netanyahu said that the Palestinian attacks were aimed at scaring Israelis into leaving the West Bank.

“We will prove to them that their desire to uproot us from our land will come up against a fortified wall…. As long as I am the prime minister of Israel, not a single Jew will be uprooted from his home,” he asserted.  

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