If one asks security sources familiar with the West Bank, the term “third
intifada” has been misused in the media to describe the upsurge in disturbances
in recent days.
As one senior source noted, when the second intifada
erupted in 2000, mobs consisting of thousands of Palestinians clashed with the
As the army lost control of the situation, mass rioting was
accompanied by deadly Palestinian terrorist attacks within Israel.
contrast, on Sunday between 100 and 200 Palestinians threw rocks at soldiers in
a few locations, including greater Hebron and Beitunya.
The IDF succeeded
in quickly dispersing most of the rioters. A hard core of around 30 remained to
continue the clashes before being dispersed. That does not constitute an
intifada in the army’s eyes.
Nevertheless, the danger remains that the
increase in violence could escalate further.
To minimize the chances of
that happening, security forces have been instructed to employ restraint
whenever possible as they contain the violence.
Soldiers must prevent
rioters from reaching roads or, in Hebron, from reaching Jewish neighborhoods.
But they must also try, as hard as they can, to avoid casualties on the other
side. Those are the orders the soldiers have received from their
Violent disorder sparked by the issue of Palestinian prisoners
is not a new phenomenon.
A year ago, riots erupted following a hunger
strike launched by then-prisoner Khader Adnan. Six months ago, the pattern
repeated itself over the same issue.
Hence, the IDF isn’t in any rush to define recent developments in the West Bank
as a third intifada.
Rather, according to security evaluations, the
violence will peak, and then gradually decrease.
Yet, events can,
occasionally, spiral out of control and the IDF is preparing for the possibility
that reality does not keep in step with security evaluations.