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Prospects for West Bank are bleak amid rising violence with world’s eyes on Gaza | World News

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Only a few weeks ago, the United Nations released a statement condemning what it described as “day after day of unprecedented bloodshed” against Palestinians in the West Bank.

With global eyes mostly focused on Gaza and increasingly the tense IsraelLebanon border, life in the West Bank has dramatically deteriorated for Palestinians living there.

Since the Hamas attacks, Israeli security forces have worked to prevent the West Bank from becoming another front in the war, although there is evidence that their draconian approach is actually pushing the area closer to collapse.

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Last year was already the most violent year in the West Bank for decades, even before 7 October, and more than 500 Palestinians have been killed in the Occupied Territories since those attacks.

The IDF regularly launches raids into Palestinian towns, especially Jenin and Tulkarm, to arrest or kill wanted militants – raids which often lead to the deaths of civilians, too.

More military checkpoints have disrupted movement around the region for Palestinians, leading to damaging consequences for the local economy.

Airstrikes, which the IDF hadn’t used as a tactic for twenty years, are now relatively commonplace; almost 50 have been carried out in the West Bank since 7 October.

In the last eight and a half months, Israeli security officials have also arrested more than 9,000 Palestinians, including hundreds of children – around half of them held on what is known as administrative detention – without charge and indefinitely.

So crammed are Israel’s prisons, it’s been reported the IDF and police have been forced to cancel arrest operations because there is no room left.

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Image:
Palestinian gunmen at a march in the West Bank this month. Pic: Reuters

The frequency of violence by extremist Israeli settlers on Palestinians has led the US to label some of them terror attacks and impose sanctions against a number of them.

More than 1,000 Palestinians, mainly from herding communities, have been displaced as a result of settler violence.

But it’s not one-sided, as 24 Israelis, some of the soldiers, were killed by Palestinians in 2023, a 15-year high.

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The West Bank has also been the origin of a number of terror attacks since 7 October, some of which were thwarted before they were launched.

Israel also accuses Iran of sending money into the West Bank to incite further violence against Israelis.

Only this weekend an Israeli man was shot and killed in the Palestinian town of Qalqilya.

But the current hard-right Israeli coalition government has taken an unforgiving approach to Palestinians and is looking to take advantage of the current period of conflict.

Approval was given earlier this year for 3,400 new settlement homes to be built, even though Israeli settlements are illegal under international law.

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Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, a settler himself, was recently recorded outlining his plans to transfer authority of the West Bank from military to civilian control, effectively annexing it and denying any future possibility of a Palestinian state.

Mr Smotrich said his plans were privately supported by Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

The minister has also withheld collected tax revenues from the Palestinian Authority, leaving it unable to pay many of its workers and on the brink of financial collapse.

With a ceasefire in Gaza still looking unlikely in the near future, and Mr Netanyahu still refusing to consider a ‘day after’ plan, the prospects for Palestinians in the West Bank are bleak as international attention remains elsewhere.



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