What happened during the Israeli strikes in Gaza
Above all, stones are flying, not rockets: In the shadow of the Israeli air strikes on targets in the Gaza Strip and the Hamas rocket fire on Israel, protests have also been taking place in the West Bank for days - and violence between Palestinians and Israeli security forces as well as Jewish settlers.
It is true that one of the points at which the escalation sparked was the possible eviction of Palestinian families from houses in Sheikh Jarrah, in eastern Jerusalem, operated by Jewish settlers before Israeli courts. But it remained relatively quiet in the West Bank at first - until last Friday.
The protests were also aimed at the day of the Nakba on Saturday, in English the catastrophe on which the Palestinians commemorate the expulsion in 1948. They covered all major cities: East Jerusalem, Hebron, Nablus, Jenin and the area around Ramallah, where the Palestinian Authority is based. And they were more violent than in a long time: Palestinians threw incendiary devices and set barricades on fire. Israeli soldiers used tear gas and rubber bullets, but also fired sharply.
Groups that had recently drifted apart came together in the general strike
At the end of the day, 10 Palestinians had been killed and more than 150 injured in Ramallah, according to the Ministry of Health. In many cases, the course of events cannot be reconstructed. Eyewitnesses accuse the Israeli side of acting with great severity and brutality. According to the army, however, soldiers shot at least one who is now one of the dead because he attacked a military post with a knife.
This was followed by a general strike on Tuesday, which an Arab umbrella organization had initially called for, Fatah ruling in the West Bank of Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas and others to join. The strike was directed not only against Israel's attacks on the Gaza Strip, but also against the evictions in Sheikh Jarrah, the actions of Israeli security forces at the Al-Aqsa mosque on Haram al-Sharif and the violence by Jewish settlers.
Around 400,000 settlers live in the West Bank and another 200,000 in East Jerusalem; Israel controls about 60 percent of the area. Palestinians accuse the settlers of not only taking land, which is viewed internationally as a breach of international law, but also of perpetrating violence against Palestinians with impunity under the eyes and protection of the army.
According to the Israeli newspaper, they took part in the strike Haaretz both the majority of Arab Israelis, who predominantly define themselves as Palestinians, and the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Both participants and organizers saw the protests as a sign of a new political unity after Palestinians in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip had increasingly drifted apart in recent years, also due to great differences in their living conditions.
After thousands protested peacefully, including families with children, young men in particular followed parallel calls from Fatah and Hamas for a "day of anger" and marched to checkpoints of the Israeli army. A shootout broke out near Ramallah. According to the army, militant Palestinians opened fire and soldiers also fired sharply. The Palestinian Authority is careful to avoid armed conflict. However, there were repeated attacks on Israeli military posts.
On Tuesday, according to the army, a Palestinian armed with a submachine gun, explosives and knife tried to attack soldiers in Hebron. Tensions are particularly high there because settlers live under the protection of the army in parts of the city center. On Wednesday, according to the army, a Palestinian woman fired an assault rifle at the nearby settlement of Kirjat Arba. Both attackers were killed.
As of Wednesday evening, the Ministry of Health in Ramallah had recorded 25 dead and more than 6,000 injured. These figures cannot be checked independently. But they are at least a clue that these are the worst clashes in years - some say the worst in the West Bank since the Intifada in 2000.
A new uprising by the Palestinians, however, is considered unlikely, if only because Israel today has far greater opportunities to suppress protests. It is to be expected, however, that the power struggle among the Palestinian groups will intensify. Hamas and its allied Islamic Jihad are gaining popularity, especially among young Palestinians. The autonomy authority, and with it Fatah, are seen by many as the helpers of the occupying power.
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