By Atallah Al-Salim

Abstract: Contra public shock, recent events in the occupied Palestinian territory are the culmination of a series of intentional policy and military decisions made by the Netanyahu government that exacerbated the already dire conditions of Palestinians.

Large segments of the international public were surprised by the October 7th and subsequent events in Occupied Palestinian Territory. Yet, several factors had culminated over the past year which - if analyzed properly- would certainly lead us to conclude that disruption of the status quo was only a matter of time. Top amongst these factors was the installment of an extreme right wing Israeli government in December 2022, under the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu, which immediately proceeded to escalate tensions and outright hostility against the Palestinians in both rhetoric and practice. A few days after the government’s formation, Israel’s far-right national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem despite all warnings that such an action would inflame tensions.  In March of 2023, the Minister of Finance Bezalel Smotrich called  for the Palestinian village of Hawara to be ‘wiped out’ by the Israeli government, which further fueled anger and frustration among Palestinians.

In recent years, Israel has confiscated over 400 dunams from Hawara, Beita, and Awarta villages to make way for a huge bypass road that will be used by the Israeli military and settlers. In addition, Israel set up the Hawara military checkpoint on a road leading into Nablus, effectively cutting the city off from neighboring villages. As a result, tensions grew between Palestinians of Nablus and the Israeli army. In what later was called a ‘pogrom’ by an Israeli Military Commander, and with full support from Israel's army, settlers rampaged Hawara village and burned the cars, homes, and other Palestinian properties therein. Jenin, another Palestinian city in the West Bank, was a target for Israel’s army. The city along with its refugee camp has been attacked three times since the beginning of 2023. The latest raid was in July and resulted in the death of twelve Palestinians, including four children. Overall, these raids were violent and deadly, whether committed by the Israeli army or settlers, and had resulted in the death of at least 200 Palestinians in the West Bank  making 2023 the deadliest year for Palestinians, particularly children, in the West Bank since 2002.

With ultranationalists and ultra-orthodox Jewish parties occupying high level positions, Netanyahu’s cabinet has pledged to expand illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank. In June, the installment of more than 5,000 new settlement homes was approved by the Israeli government. Since January of this year Israel has proceeded with 12,855 settler housing units across the West Bank. According to Peace Now, this was the single biggest number of new settlements since it started tracking such activity in 2012.

Three weeks before the October 7 events, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented a map of “The New Middle East,” without any image or mention of Palestine, during his speech to the UN’s General Assembly in New York. The maps did not show the West Bank, East Jerusalem, or Gaza. This reaffirmed what Palestinians knew, that there was no chance that Netanyahu’s government would proceed with peace talks with Palestinians. Throughout his years in power, Netanyahu has provided consistent evidence that an independent Palestinian state was not on his agenda, while attacks and settler encroachment continued to try and push Palestinians off their land.

The frequency and multitude of violations lead several Palestinian leaders to warn that such escalations would ignite the conflict with Israelis. However, the Israeli authorities continued to turn a deaf ear to these warnings and so did the international community, which from a Palestinian perspective, continues a pattern of behavior they have endured since 1948.

Atallah Al-Salim is a journalist and political researcher who has published several articles, commentaries, and working papers on different dimensions of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Article or Event Link
Oct 14, 2023
Public Policy


Public Policy

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