The uptick in West Bank terror incidents in recent days may seem minor. However, it hints that animosity and tensions persist below the surface and could erupt unexpectedly. The IDF’s annual intelligence assessment offers a glimpse into what may be in store for Israel in 2020.
On Saturday, a Palestinian assailant stabbed an Israeli man near Hebron. Earlier in the day, a Palestinian woman charged at Border Police officers in Jerusalem with a knife. On Sunday, IDF soldiers discovered a fragmentation grenade and a flare bomb at a West Bank hitchhiking post.
These incidents are relatively minor, as are other forms of Palestinian violence such as ongoing stone-throwing attacks. However, the energies and passions that drive them are persistent, and could quickly produce escalating aggression and chaos.
A recent op-ed offered another glimpse into the Palestinian mood. The piece, published by official PA daily Al-Hayat al-Jadida, openly called for violence to disrupt a Holocaust ceremony in Israel this week. Dozens of world leaders will be arriving at the high-profile event to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
“One shot will disrupt the ceremony and one dead body will cancel the ceremony,” the op-ed said, according to a translation by Palestinian Media Watch. The writer also complained that the world does not recognize the “Palestinian Holocaust,” and slammed President Donald Trump’s peace efforts.
Palestinian Factions Arming
The newly released IDF intelligence estimate suggests that developments in the West Bank must be watched closely. One source of continuous tension is the battle of succession to replace the aging Palestinian leader, Mahmud Abbas.
The IDF assessment notes that rival factions are already arming themselves in anticipation of a violent power struggle. Once the fight erupts, it could produce a chaotic reality that will very likely spill over into Israel as well.
Notably, Abbas has worked with Israel to curb terrorist attacks, even if reluctantly at times. However, his potential successors will likely espouse more radical views in order to cerement their credentials.
A recent commentary by military correspondent Tal Lev-Ram warned that Israel is not fully prepared for the changes ahead. Israeli leaders have been complacent, he wrote in daily newspaper Maariv, partly because the Palestinian issue does not promise political rewards.
However, sooner or later, Israel will be facing a changing reality in one of its most sensitive threat environments. As darker clouds slowly gather on the horizon, the next government would do well to come up with a clear game plan.