A Border Policeman uses pepper spray on a Palestinian man during clashes near the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi al-Joz.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The experts in the Shin Bet and the IDF, as well as media analysts, continue to argue over the definition. What should we call the violence? Intifada? Not an intifada? Grassroots terror? Stone intifada? The sad truth is that the name doesn’t matter. What’s important is the reality, and no less important, recognition of that reality.
And the reality is that the West Bank and Jerusalem are on fire. They have been burning for several months, for as long as a year. The Palestinians are on a path to confrontation.
There are already clear signs of an uprising. It started with stone-throwing – an average of more than 100 incidents a month. And stones can kill, as we have seen on a few occasions in the past year, including the Rosh Hashana attack in Jerusalem that killed Alexander Levlovitz.
The incidence of Molotov cocktails being thrown has risen to about 10 to 15 a month.
And most recently, there has been an increase in the use of firearms and knives, as in the case of the murder of the Henkin family
and the attack on Saturday in Jerusalem's Old City
In short, the situation is extremely volatile.
Any incident, even the most marginal, can turn into a strategic mega-terror attack that will draw an Israeli response – which in turn will lead to a situation that spirals out of control.
We can only imagine the horror scenario that might have ensued had the four Henkin children been killed along with their parents, or if the Iron Dome defense system were to miss a rocket fired from Gaza that subsequently strikes a southern town, causing casualties.
These are scenarios that could lead to an Operation Defensive Shield 2 or Operation Protective Edge 2 – not to mention what could happen if Jewish extremists carry out another terror attack like the murder of the Dawabshe family in Duma.
The Israeli government continues to stick to the status quo as if nothing has changed. Some ministers – chief among them Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked – have attacked the government for not doing enough. This means they are blaming themselves without taking responsibility.
At most, these officials offer solutions akin to giving chicken soup to a dead man or Tylenol to a cancer patient. An example of this is a call to erect more checkpoints or prevent Palestinian cars from traveling on certain roads (which is a bad idea that will make it easier for terrorists to target Jewish vehicles).
These are the tactical solutions of the small-minded. There is no willingness to deal with the bigger picture, the strategic reality.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has extended his hand and offered to resume negotiations with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas unconditionally. But we’ve already been to this movie. Abbas and the Palestinian leadership do not believe Netanyahu. They remember the Netanyahu that speaks in favor of the two-state solution, and later, prior to elections, reneges and moves back to the starting line. The Palestinians have had enough of these suggestions or minor goodwill gestures. They want to know where the negotiations will lead.
Abbas and the Palestinians have also contributed to the situation. They did not take advantage of the settlement freeze five years ago. Just like Israel, they are not willing to compromise.
However, it is still a mistake for the Israeli government to take the position that the situation is unresolvable.
It is clear that the status quo is dying, one way or another. The latest tensions could escalate into a massive Palestinian uprising, or Abbas might resign, or the Palestinian Authority might dismantle, or the Oslo Accords might be canceled, as Abbas has already threatened to do – or all these things may occur simultaneously.