The West Bank is on the brink of a third intifada. Tensions have been escalating, and now Israeli forces have raided the Aqabat Jabr refugee camp in the Jordan Valley, killing several armed fighters. This violence follows a period of record-breaking bloodshed in the West Bank and Israel, with more than 40 Palestinians, including children, killed since the start of this year.
The raid on the Aqabat Jabr refugee camp was carried out overnight, with the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) stating that “a number of armed assailants were killed after firing toward IDF soldiers who were operating in the area”. According to Palestinian reports, Shaker Amara, a senior official from the Hamas militant group, was arrested.
The violence has been further exacerbated by the tit-for-tat exchanges of rocket fire with the Islamist-controlled Gaza Strip over the last two weeks, as well as retaliatory attacks including shootings and property destruction carried out by Palestinians and Israeli settlers. The Palestinian Authority has declared that it will suspend security cooperation with Israel, a move it has taken with limited success in the past.
The raid on Aqabat Jabr was reportedly in response to an attempted attack on a restaurant in the nearby Israeli settlement of Vered Yeriho last weekend, in which two armed men with suspected links to Hamas tried to shoot diners but fled after their guns jammed.
The weak and corrupt Palestinian Authority has lost control in some areas of the West Bank to a new generation of armed militias, and the extremist Israeli government in power is fuelling the flames by pushing ahead with illegal settlement building in Palestinian territory and home demolitions in East Jerusalem.
The latest raid on Aqabat Jabr is a tragic reminder of the escalating violence in the West Bank, and the United Nations, the US and other international bodies have called for restraint on both sides. The security situation does not show signs of improvement, however, and the fear of a third intifada is growing.