There have been daily clashes between demonstrators and Israeli occupation troops in the West Bank following the release of US President Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century” on January 28. The Israeli military has been on “heightened alert” there since the plan’s cynically timed and politically-motivated festive presentation to the world from the White House by MessieursTrump and Netanyahu, and has deployed additional troops to the occupied territory: six battalions as well as attached combat battalions to every regional brigade with the aim of thwarting acts of resistance and repressing protests and mass demonstrations.
Palestinians in several West Bank cities immediately began protesting Trump’s plan with its announcement, and dozens had been injured during a week of violent confrontation between Palestinian youths and Israel’s occupation army and police forces.
Wednesday, February 5, saw the first fatality when a 17-year-old Palestinian youth identified as Mohammad Salman al-Haddad was shot in the heart and killed during clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli soldiers on in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Witnesses to al-Haddad’s shooting said that clashes broke out on Wednesday, as they had already done so for a week, in the area of Bab al-Zawiyeh in the divided city of Hebron, where the heavily-barricaded Israeli-controlled H2 area meets the Palestinian-administered H1 section. Soldiers fired live ammunition and rubber bullets as well as teargas at the youths.
The Ministry of Health announced that al-Haddad was brought in critical condition to Hebron hospital and was pronounced dead shortly afterwards. A spokesperson for the ministry said the victim was hit by a live bullet in the chest which penetrated his heart killing him almost instantly.
Joint List MK Ofer Cassif (Hadash) condemned the Israeli military on social media writing, “The Israeli Army has no reason to be in Hebron and should pull out of it immediately.” He added, “The heart aches over the needless death of a 17-year-old kid in Hebron who was murdered in a city under occupation.”
On Thursday, February 6, the whirlwind of violence and resulting fatalities increased. In Jenin in the northern West Bank two Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces: Yazan Abu Tabikh, 19, and Sgt. Tarek Badwan – a Palestinian Authority police officer who was shot while in uniform and posed no risk to Israeli troops. Another man from the North was shot dead after he opened fire toward Border Police officers outside the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
On Thursday morning, after a vehicular ramming attack in central Jerusalem injured 12 Golani troops, including one critically, Israeli military spokesperson Brigadier Geneneral Hidai Zilberman confirmed, “We are experiencing a relatively violent week.” The driver fled the scene but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it was “only a matter of time” before the perpetrator of the attack was caught. “Terrorism will not overwhelm us. We will win,” Netanyahu crowed. The driver was later caught in a joint Army, Shin Bet and Israel police operation.
Meanwhile, Hamas applauded the attack, saying “the spreading resistance and clashes by our people in the West Bank and their resistance in the heart of occupied Jerusalem is an active response against the destructive Trump deal.”
Later on Thursday, another Israeli soldier was lightly wounded in a drive-by shooting near the settlement of Dolev. The bullet only grazed the back of his helmet. By the end of the day Thursday, the total number of Palestinian deaths in the two days stood at four, with hundreds more, both Palestinians and Israelis, injured.
While observers say that the Palestinian street does not want another intifada, Palestinians will not passively stay home either, following the travesty of the “Deal of the Century”; especially young people for whom the plan is a one way ticket to a hopeless future.
The violence against the Israeli occupation forces is currently not large-scale and well-organized by groups like Hamas or other organizations, but rather is being carried out by small groups of Palestinian youths. The shooting attacks like the ones in Jerusalem and outside Dolev were likely perpetrated by lone wolves which are much more challenging to thwart than attacks planned by groups. But, the number of attacks in such a short period indicates the flames of violence are growing in the West Bank. And as long as Palestinians have no hope and have nothing to lose, it is easy for resistance groups to radicalize them to carry out more violence.
The volcano that has been rumbling for months is coming closer and closer to a large-scale eruption.