In days and weeks leading up to the 2021 Israeli legislative election, violence against Palestinians of the West Bank has risen exponentially. Does this have anything to do with Netanyahu’s agenda or his recent problems?
Israel’s election draws near with every second and so do the politicians’ attempts to sway their constituents’ votes toward their own agenda. Though Covid-19 pandemic eclipsed almost anything since its emergence, things in Israel have taken a turn for the better in recent weeks. Vaccination has proceeded better than most countries and hospital wards dedicated to Covid-19 patients have been retrofitted. That alone is enough for the people to redirect their attention toward other things.
One of the most pressing matters for the State of Israel has always been that of annexation. Thanks to the efforts of the former U.S. President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a more unhampered option when it came to dealing with the Palestinians. The so-called “Abraham Accords” were drafted without the input of the Palestinian Authority and though utterly rejected by the indigenous population, it nonetheless served its purpose in framing Palestinians as the malcontent party who refused Trump’s “gracious” offer.
With the attentions subverted, Netanyahu now seeks to bolster its chances for reelection by waging a shadowy guerrilla warfare against the West Bank locals through the use of mob and violent settlers. The Israeli-based human rights group B’Tselem recently reported that there have been a massive surge in the number of violent attacks against the Palestinian civilians in recent months. According to the data gathered by the group, there have been nearly a hundred reports between February till March 2021 implicating Israeli settlers who were sporadically attacking Palestinian population. And even though many of these attacks were and are reported to the police, neither of them is actively pursued by the criminal justice system.
Although things have been bad in almost all places of the West Bank, the city of Ramallah has reportedly suffered the worst. According to the local authorities, things took a turn for worse when an Israeli youth settler, Ahuvia Sandak, was killed fleeing from the Israeli police when someone reported him vandalizing Palestinian properties. Now instead of blaming the police, this anger and hatred has purposefully been redirected toward the local Palestinians who had no idea who the victim was until a while after his death. Additionally it has been reported that Israeli settlers have also closed down the roads in many other cities for the same reasons.
There are around 250 illegal settlements built in the occupied West Bank housing around 500,000 Israeli settlers. Trump’s heavy bias toward the Israelis during the last four years of Netanyahu’s tenure effectively gave the Israeli PM permission to push forward with his colonial agenda without the least regard for Palestinians. With Biden in power, there have been rumours that the Americans are trying to reestablish relations with the Palestinians. As of this moment, Biden’s administration has pledged to resume their economic and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians. Furthermore, there have been talks about the reopening of Palestinians mission in Washington.
Since Netanyahu already has a lot on his platter, initiating a game of smoke and mirrors with the settlers might eventually end up in his favour. Escalation in the West Bank is exactly what Netanyahu needs to distract the public from the inquiry into his dealings. In addition to that, news about the skirmish with Palestinians could easily be hijacked to replace the victims with the perpetrators and then all it would take for Netanyahu is to nudge Republicans so as to sabotage Biden’s efforts in securing the peace.
In less than a week however everything would be different, that is for Israel of course. As for the Palestinians, things would never change as they never seem to do. If not for a few humanists here and there, things would be far worse than what they are now. Still, one must never forget that it is in these times that the downtrodden would need the world’s attention more than ever, for if things go down south there would be no mic for them to say “Alright Bibi you won. Was it worth the blood?”. Turning brother against brother, neighbour against neighbour has always been a good detour for power-hungry politicians. However, is the next Israeli PM up to the task? to face the consequences that come as a result of these actions? Guess we’ll find out soon enough.