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Israel and Palestine: what has caused violence to flare up again? | Israel

What is happening in Israel and Palestine?

Israel and Palestine are bouncing from crisis to crisis, but a string of brutal and deadly attacks over the past few days have raised fears that the Holy Land is heading towards relentless bloodshed. There is speculation that the region is on the verge of an intifada – a Palestinian uprising or, literally, “shaking off” Israeli control. The first two uprisings were brutally suppressed, failed to end the occupation and claimed the lives of several thousand people, mostly Palestinians. Some believe that the third intifada has already begun.

What happened in the last few days?

On Thursday, Israel launched one of its deadliest operations in recent years in the occupied West Bank, sending soldiers on an unusually vicious raid to eliminate militants stationed in the Jenin refugee camp. Ten Palestinians were killed, mostly militants, as well as two civilians, including a 61-year-old woman.

The attack provoked mutual clashes, including an exchange of rockets between the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and Israel. On Friday evening, a Palestinian militant killed seven Israelis outside a synagogue in East Jerusalem. It was the deadliest Palestinian attack in the city in years.

Violence was reported over the weekend in Jerusalem and the West Bank, including fighting between Israeli settlers and Palestinians.

Why is this happening now?

An attempt to indicate the beginning of the aggravation of a crisis that has stretched over several generations is an almost impossible task. However, current tensions have risen since last spring, when the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched Operation Breakwater – one of its largest non-wartime campaigns – following a spate of knife and gun attacks by Palestinians.

The breakwater, which focuses on Palestinian armed groups in Jenin and Nablus, has so far contributed to the highest death toll in Israel and the West Bank since the end of the second intifada in 2005, with about 150 Palestinians and 30 Israelis killed in 2022.

What is the current political situation?

Just over a month ago, Israeli politicians formed the most right-wing and anti-Arab government in the country’s history. Far-right and ultra-nationalist figures, such as extremist settler Itamar Ben-Gvir, have taken ministerial posts after campaigning to annex the West Bank and aggressively consolidating military control over the Palestinians.

This is because hope for a resolution for Palestinians living under occupation for more than half a century is perhaps at the lowest level it has ever been, especially after former US President Donald Trump urged the Israeli government to tighten control over Palestinian territories. A recently released poll shows support for the moribund “peace process” at an all-time low.

Peaceful Palestinian attempts to end the Israeli occupation have been repeatedly and successfully repressed, and many young people in the occupied territories believe that the only alternative is to take up arms. Meanwhile, Palestinian political leaders in the West Bank are irresponsible and regularly accused of colluding with Israel.

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