Will Ramadan tip the West Bank into eruption?

Mourners carry the body of Amer Al Najar during his funeral in Burin village near Nablus, 5 March 2024.

Alaa Badarneh EFE via ZUMA Press / APA images

Israel is escalating its provocations against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank in the wake of the holy month of Ramadan, despite claims that it is attempting to prevent further escalation.

Earlier this week, Israeli occupation forces conducted one of the largest military raids in Ramallah in years.

Ramallah is the seat of the Palestinian Authority in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The Palestinian Authority has since its creation in the mid-1990s maintained close cooperation with Israeli occupation forces under the banner of “security coordination.”

As a result, Ramallah is not typically the target of military raids as severe as those Israel carries out in other areas of the occupied West Bank, particularly in the northern refugee camps where armed resistance is prominent and the Palestinian Authority has minimal influence.

But since 7 October, deadly raids across the occupied West Bank have become more intense. They have also caused extensive damage inside refugee camps – streets, homes, commercial areas as well as water, electricity and road infrastructure have been devastated due to successive Israeli raids in those areas.

Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank bear the brunt for such military raids, where the “unlawful killing of Palestinian children is the norm,” according to Defense for Children International-Palestine, which collects field reports on Israel’s killing of children.

Israeli troops and settlers have killed 27 Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank since the beginning of the year. This includes two teenage US citizens.

Killing spree

On Tuesday, Israeli occupation forces shot and killed a 16-year-old boy after he allegedly attempted to carry out a stabbing attack.

Israeli forces “continued shooting him after he fell to the ground,” DCIP said.

The Israeli military prevented Red Crescent ambulances from reaching the scene, causing Muhammad to bleed out without receiving medical care. An Israeli ambulance later transported his body to an undisclosed location.

Following the killing of the teenage boy, the Israeli military summoned his father for a two-hour interrogation. When his father requested to see him, “the intelligence officer refused and informed him that a video of the moment his child carried out the stabbing operation would be published.”

Israel is still holding Muhammad’s body.

On Monday, Israeli occupation forces fatally shot 10-year-old Amr Muhammad Najar in the head.

Amr was sitting in the passenger seat of his father’s car as they traveled through the Nablus-area village of Burin, which is surrounded by illegal Jewish-only Israeli settlements.

Amr’s father hadn’t been expecting to see Israeli soldiers in the village. Soldiers opened fire on their car from a distance of approximately 20 meters. Two bullets pierced the windshield, with one striking Amr in the head, killing him.

On Saturday, Israeli soldiers opened fire at two boys standing near a United Nations-run school by the entrance to the Jalazoun refugee camp, which is also near the entrance to the settlement of Beit El north of Ramallah.

Muhammad Khaled Zaid, 13, was shot three times in his back and thigh from a distance of 20-40 meters.

When his friend, who was also injured, went to seek help, soldiers took Muhammad’s body.

An hour later, “they returned his body to the sidewalk” near the entrance of the camp, DCIP said.

Settlement expansion

On Wednesday, Israeli authorities approved tenders for thousands of homes in settlements across the occupied West Bank.

“This is the first time since June that the development of housing units in the West Bank have been advanced,” Tel Aviv daily Haaretz said.

This was “a response” to an attack by three Palestinian men on a highway near the Maaleh Adumim settlement that resulted in the death of one Israeli and injuries to several others, including a reserve soldier who had participated in the genocide in Gaza.

Soldiers and armed civilians shot at the three men, killing two and injuring a third.

The head of the Israeli military’s central command has also granted authorization for an Israeli outpost – illegal even under Israeli law – in the occupied West Bank to be transformed into a large settlement.

If the plan is carried out, the outpost known as Mitzpeh Yehuda will be established as an official city settlement named Mishmar Yehuda. This would be an expansion of Israel’s mega-settlement of Maaleh Adumim, adding more than 650 acres of stolen Palestinian land.

The decision follows the same shooting near Maaleh Adumim.

Bezalel Smotrich, the ultra-far-right Israeli finance minister, called for a “settlement response” to the attack.

Smotrich called on Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, and other officials to “immediately approve plans for thousands of housing units in Maaleh Adumim and the entire region.”

He added: “Our enemies know that any harm to us will lead to more construction and more development and more of our hold all over the country.”

It’s not atypical for settlement expansion, punitive home demolitions and other forms of forcible displacement to take the shape of “retaliation” for alleged Palestinian operations.

In 2023, Israeli authorities and settlers forcibly displaced some 4,000 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem. This marked the “highest ever recorded” number of displacements in a single year since UN monitoring group OCHA began keeping records in 2009.

The vast majority of those Palestinians were forcibly displaced due to settler violence and harassment or access restrictions.

Restrictions on prayer

Military raids and settlement expansions are not the only provocations Palestinians face in the lead-up to Ramadan.

Concerns are mounting about such provocations escalating into a full eruption.

Despite calls from Israeli ministers urging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to tighten restrictions on Palestinian access to the al-Aqsa mosque compound during the sacred month, Netanyahu has so far opted against significantly tightening existing restrictions.

Israeli national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir had proposed banning Palestinian citizens of Israel from praying at al-Aqsa during the month.

Ramadan is also concentrating minds elsewhere.

“There’s got to be a cease-fire because Ramadan – if we get into circumstances where this continues to Ramadan, Israel and Jerusalem could be very, very dangerous,” US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday.

Every year, Israeli authorities impose a series of provocative restrictions on Palestinian access to religious sites in Jerusalem, not only for Muslims, but also for Palestinian Christians.

Nature of military raids

All the necessary ingredients to provoke a violent eruption in the occupied West Bank are therefore in place, causing even the Palestinian Authority to issue a warning and demand international protection for Palestinians in the territory.

Since 7 October, the frequency and intensity of Israeli military raids into occupied West Bank cities, villages and refugee camps have escalated, although this level of intensity appeared last summer when a two-day offensive in Jenin refugee camp killed a dozen Palestinians, including four children. It was the largest offensive in the occupied West Bank in two decades.

It was also the first time Israel conducted aerial bombardment in the occupied West Bank since the second intifada.

Now, Israel conducts multi-day raids on West Bank cities and refugee camps with aerial bombardment on a regular basis.

“There’s constant resistance in the West Bank that would be called an intifada at any other time,” contributing editor Jon Elmer said on The Electronic Intifada livestream last month.

Palestinian resistance groups have emerged in the northern occupied West Bank in the past few years, primarily centered in refugee camps on the outskirts of three cities: Jenin, Nablus and Tulkarem.

Since 7 October, at least 415 Palestinians in the West Bank have been killed and 11 times that number have been injured.

The resistance in those cities and the primary refugee camps in those governorates has matured to varying degrees over the past several years.

The Jenin Brigade, a small militia affiliated with the Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, has gradually emerged in the camp during recent years.

The Israeli military encountered fierce resistance during the operation in July.

“This is a pure guerrilla movement building their own weapons to fight for their own refugee camp,” Elmer said on The Electronic Intifada Podcast that month following the operation.

Resistance groups even started making homemade explosives and planting them on the side of the road to blow up invading Israeli armored vehicles.

This also allowed resistance fighters to move with less restriction inside their refugee camps.

“In cities like Jenin, resistance fighters have typically found safe haven within the city boundaries or inside the city’s refugee camp – a nucleus of armed struggle,” writes Shatha Hanaysheh in Mondoweiss.

This does not apply to other resistance groups emerging in otherwise “quieter” West Bank towns and villages that Israel has been conducting more frequent raids in, Hanaysheh explains.

This may also explain why military raids are extending into other areas of the West Bank, as “a growing movement of decentralized resistance” spills over to other towns and villages in the aftermath of 7 October.




The Zionists are escalating their provocations by committing heinous crimes such as murder; expanding settlements; erecting more checkpoints, earth-mounds and road gates; imposing restrictions on access to Al-Aqsa and beating peaceful Palestinians who try to reach their mosque; conducting widespread arbitrary arrests, followed by systematic torture and starvation tactics that have resulted in the deaths of several prisoners. Additionally, the Zionist colonizers have violated the terms of the recent prisoner exchange agreement by re-arresting eight prisoners who had been released as part of a short ceasefire deal.
These provocations have led to an increased deployment of occupation soldiers and armed settlers throughout the occupied West Bank. The heightened military presence provides the Palestinian resistance with easier justified targets.
So, it is clear that distorting the significance of Ramadan in the media is a distraction from malicious intentions and that is a common strategy employed by the Zionists and their allies.

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Tamara Nassar

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada.