- The IDF continues its counter-terrorism operations in Judea and Samaria and sends a warning to the terrorist organizations of its long reach.
- However, the terrorist organizations are determined to bring about a new intifada soon, and the IDF may be tested to prevent it.
The successful IDF operation in Nablus on February 22, 2023, in which 8 of the 12 Palestinians killed were members of the terrorist groups Lions’ Den, Islamic Jihad, and PFLP, was the third such operation in recent weeks in which IDF special forces penetrated deep into Palestinian cities to target terrorists planning to carry out attacks. The Israeli forces suffered no casualties. The two previous anti-terror operations were in the Aqbat Jaber refugee camp near Jericho area and in the Jenin refugee camp.
The operation in Nablus resulted in angry reactions in the Palestinian and international media and provoked rocket fire at Israel from Gaza. Hamas and Islamic Jihad launch rockets at Israel in response to every successful action by the IDF in killing terrorists in the West Bank.
The IDF and the Israel Security Agency are sending a message to the Palestinian Authority and the terrorist organizations through these operations: “Israel’s reach is long. There are no cities of refuge for terrorists in Judea and Samaria, and the IDF will strike any terrorist who plans to kill Israeli civilians and soldiers.”
The Terrorist Organizations Promise Revenge
The terrorist organizations promise revenge and will attempt to carry out attacks against Israelis, even without connection to the operation in Nablus. These may be perpetrated by individual “lone wolf” terrorists. Since the last IDF operation in Gaza in May 2021, the radicals began the formation of new terrorist cells in northern Samaria without any Palestinian Authority interference. Today, the PA refuses to fight against them.
The terrorist organizations plan to increase their attacks toward the month of Ramadan (March 22 – April 20, 2023) as a catalyst for a third intifada. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh published a statement on February 23, 2023, in which he said that the Palestinian people will not allow anyone to suppress the intifada that was developing in the West Bank and added that “the campaign against the enemy is entering a stage of strong desperation (of Israel) and breaking the occupiers and expelling them from the land of our fathers and grandfathers.”
Hamas Plans a Major Escalation
Hamas aims to bring about a major escalation during Ramadan. The developments on the ground are working in its favor: The Palestinian Authority’s power is in a process of continuous decline. In Israel, the new government is in a state of diplomatic confrontation with the international community and in a political crisis within Israel itself.
The younger Palestinian generation is discouraged by the corrupt Palestinian Authority and, having no memories of previous intifadas, they thirst for a confrontation against Israel. The system of Palestinian incitement takes advantage of this, and the social networks encourage the young to initiate terror attacks and become TikTok heroes. While other social media platforms limit or censor bellicose Palestinian content, TikTok, a Chinese company, does not.
The IDF will be forced to launch additional operations deep in Palestinian territory because the Palestinian Authority no longer fights against terrorism – in violation of the Oslo Accords. Most of the Palestinian public in the West Bank is not interested in a new intifada. An estimated 160,000 Palestinians work in Israel, and they want to continue supporting their families. However, the rate of violent events may dictate a completely different reality for them. Palestinian activists have attempted to prevent workers from reaching their places of work in Israel.
The IDF’s successful operation in Nablus is another decisive blow to the Lions’ Den terrorist group. The professionalism of the IDF soldiers and the Israel Security Agency’s accurate intelligence increase the Palestinians’ frustration and challenge them to carry out revenge attacks to restore their dignity on the Palestinian street.
The Test of Ramadan – Hamas’ Plan
The month of Ramadan is a testing period for the Palestinian terrorist organizations that want to turn the current security situation into a new armed intifada against Israel, and for the Israeli security forces who will try to prevent it.
The violent events so far have not developed into a full-scale intifada due to several reasons:
- The internal Palestinian division between the Fatah and Hamas movements continues.
- The Palestinian Authority refuses to sponsor the terrorist activities of the armed groups.
- Most of the Palestinian public in the West Bank does not participate in violent events, and the situation is similar in eastern Jerusalem.
The Palestinian incitement machine is taking advantage of the fact that the Jewish Passover holiday (April 5 – April 13, 2023) will overlap with Ramadan this year. Groups on the Israeli right are planning activities on the Temple Mount and at the Western Wall during the holiday. The Palestinians will broadcast their false narrative that Israel intends to take over the Temple Mount and the Al-Aqsa Mosque and divide them physically between Jews and Muslims, as it did at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron in 1994.
The Palestinian narrative will point to increasing numbers of Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount. Last year, 3,670 Jews visited the Mount during Passover, a figure which is expected to increase this year. Some zealous Jews may even proclaim their intention to restore the millennium-old Passover lamb sacrifice this year.
Any Israeli attempt to change the status quo on the Temple Mount is, from the point of view of Muslims, the crossing of a red line.
Hamas has been planning for a long time to ignite a new intifada in eastern Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria using two main elements that can arouse the Palestinian street: the security prisoners in Israeli prisons and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Therefore, the security prisoners have announced that they would start a hunger strike at the beginning of Ramadan.
The action plan of Hamas and Islamic Jihad for Ramadan is as follows:
- proclamation of civil disobedience in the Arab neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem.
- A war of attrition between the armed terrorist groups in Nablus and Jenin against IDF forces and Israeli civilians.
- Firing rockets from Gaza at Israel to support the new intifada.
- Calls for individual terrorists to launch attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians everywhere.
- A call to Israeli Arabs to disrupt the fabric of life in Israel.
Estimates on the Palestinian street are that it will be possible to talk about a new intifada in the West Bank within a few weeks. As Palestinian deaths increase, the number of those joining the new intifada will increase.
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