As the Israeli fighter jets intensify bombing on besieged Gaza, the situation in the occupied West Bank grows inflamed. According to the Palestinian Information Center, the number of the Palestinians killed by the Israelis in the West Bank since the Hamas’s Operation Al-Aqsa Storm on October 7 has increased to 76. This large number of the Palestinian casualties in the West Bank is indicative of the escalation of tensions in this part of Palestine as the anti-Gaza bombardment goes on.
The tensions in the West Bank were high even before the bombing and the war on Gaza, and now it seems that they are even higher than before. The worst clashes took place in a refugee camp called Nur Shams near the city of Tulkarm. This camp is a densely populated residential area that Israeli forces attacked on Thursday morning. The Palestinians in the camp fought back by shooting at the occupation soldiers and throwing homemade bombs, killing an Israeli officer. The Israeli army confirmed the loss.
Simultaneously, Palestinian health officials said that 13 Palestinians, including 3 children, were killed by the Israeli forces in Nur Shams clashes.
New front opening
The escalation of tensions in the West Bank and specifically in Nur Shams camp near Tulkarm has given rise to Israeli worries about a new front opening against them in the ongoing war in Palestine. The opening of the second front will distract the Israeli focus from the developments in Gaza, and it is a privilege for the residents of the Gaza Strip who are under the most intense pressure and bombardment by the Israeli fighter jets these days.
Earlier, some Palestinian groups, including in the West Bank, had announced their support for the armed fighters in the Gaza Strip. One of these groups is Lions’ Den resistance group, which includes Palestinian youths in the West Bank and has carried out attacks against the Israeli regime in the past few months that declared its allegiance to Hamas and its military wing Qassam Brigades. The support of this West Bank-based resistance group to the Gaza resistance groups is the worst nightmare Tel Aviv is facing because it will bring the Israelis face to face with a multi-front war and increase the vulnerability of the Israeli army in dealing with Gaza.
West Bank residents frustrated by Palestinian Authority
From another aspect, there are conspicuous signs that show many of the West Bank residents prefer armed operations against the Israeli occupation over the compromising political approach of the Palestinian Authority. Since September 2021, Jenin refugee camp brigades have grown technically and also in terms of size and have managed to successfully weather the Israeli efforts to neutralize them during their attacks.
Not only the Jenin resistance brigades themselves have spread in the West Bank, but also most importantly, the pattern of establishing armed resistance groups have made their way to the camps in the north of the West Bank. These brigades have even expanded to the old city of Nablus and Tulkarm.
So far, the model of creating multiple armed nuclei throughout the northern West Bank and connecting them to various root groups has been very successful in keeping the armed struggle afloat and even expanding. This means that the Israeli forces are faced with shootings and blasts in every storming of the areas where the resistance groups are present, and each time their ability to deal with the Palestinian armed groups shrinks.
Actually, it seems that with the failure of the political initiatives for settling the Palestinian dispute in the past years, now West Bank is moving Gaza path of armament and it is growing similar to Gaza everyday more than the day before. The radical Israeli policies in the past months that led to surge of violence in the West Bank explain why there is much desire among the Palestinians to react in an armed way to the Israeli atrocities. Especially after start of the Arab-Israeli normalization process, an assumption emerged suggesting that the pressure on the Palestinians would mount, and therefore, naturally the approach for armed operations against the occupation over the past years has grown larger both in the West Bank and Gaza.