Israel Worries About New Palestinian Uprising as West Bank Protests Rage

Demonstrations Spread Over Detainee's Death in Custody

getty images

By Reuters

Published February 25, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Masked Palestinian gunmen fired in the air on Monday as thousands marched at the West Bank funeral of a prisoner whose death in an Israeli jail has raised fears in Israel of a new uprising.

Arafat Jaradat’s death on Saturday and a hunger strike by four other Palestinian inmates have raised tension in the occupied territory after repeated clashes between stone-throwers and Israeli soldiers in recent days.

Israeli troops, on high alert, took up positions outside Jaradat’s home village of Se’eer, in likely earshot of the bursts of automatic fire from the half-dozen masked Palestinians in full battle dress.

“We sacrifice our souls and blood for you, our martyr!” mourners chanted.

The sounds and fury were reminiscent of the seven-year Intifada, or uprising, that started in 2000 after Israeli-Palestinian peace talks failed.

Israeli Homeland Minister Avi Dichter cautioned that another uprising could begin if confrontations with Palestinian protesters turned deadly.

The Israeli military said dozens of Palestinians had thrown stones at soldiers in various parts of the West Bank on Monday. Troops responded with tear gas and stun grenades, and no serious injuries were reported.

“The previous two Intifadas … came about as a result of a high number of dead (during protests),” Dichter told Israel Radio. “Fatalities are almost a proven recipe for a sharper escalation.”

THROWING STONES

Jaradat, 30, was arrested a week ago for throwing stones at Israeli cars in the West Bank.

Palestinian officials said he had died after being tortured in prison. But Israel said an autopsy carried out in the presence of a Palestinian coroner was inconclusive and that injuries such as broken ribs could have been caused by efforts to revive Jaradat.

Palestinian frustration has been fuelled by Israel’s settlement expansion in the West Bank, a peace process in limbo since 2010 and a persisting rift between President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority and the Islamists of Hamas who run Gaza.

“We have no choice but to continue the popular resistance and escalate it in the face of the occupation, whether it be the army or the settlers,” Mahmoud Aloul, a senior member of Abbas’s Fatah movement, told Reuters.

In Se’eer, local merchant Abu Issa, 45, said he was unsure whether what he described as Palestinian opposition to Israeli occupation would lead to an uprising.

“One day the Palestinian people will take a stand, but I don’t know if that day is today,” he said.

Abbas has said he will not allow a third armed Intifada.

“The Israelis want chaos … We will not allow them to drag us into it and to mess with the lives of our children and our youth,” Abbas told reporters in his office in the West Bank town of Ramallah.

“NOTHING GAINED”

Dichter said Israel had to tread carefully in dealing with protests, accusing the Palestinians of trying to portray themselves as victims before U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to the region next month.

“I don’t think the Palestinian Authority will gain from an intifada, just as it didn’t achieve anything from the first or second intifadas,” he said.

“But I would say that, after conducting themselves with poor and warped thinking over the years, they don’t always recognise what’s in their best interests.”

Israel demanded on Sunday that the Palestinian Authority stem the protests, many of which have taken place in areas outside the Authority’s jurisdiction.

“They (the Palestinians) are trying to drag us to a situation where there will be dead children,” Dichter said.

Palestinians have rallied to the cause of the four hunger-strikers, two of whom are being held without trial on suspicion of anti-Israeli activity.

Some 4,700 Palestinians are in Israeli jails and Palestinians see them as heroes in a struggle for statehood.

The death of any of the hunger-strikers, one of whom has been refusing food, off and on, for more than 200 days, would likely lead to more widespread violence.

The first Palestinian uprising began in 1987 and ended in 1993, when the Oslo interim peace accords were signed.

The second Intifada broke out in 2000 after the failure of talks on a final peace agreement. Over the following seven years, more than 1,000 Israelis died, half of them in suicide attacks mostly against civilians. More than 4,500 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • What's a "telegenically dead" Palestinian?
  • 13 Israeli soldiers die in Gaza — the deadliest day for the IDF in decades. So much for 'precision' strikes and easy exit strategies.
  • What do a Southern staple like okra and an Israeli favorite like tahini have in common? New Orleans chef Alon Shaya brings sabra tastes to the Big Easy.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.