West Bank violence may spill over into mixed cities - Gantz

While Hamas has remained relatively quiet in Gaza, the terror group continues to incite Palestinians in the West Bank and even Israeli-Arabs in the south. 

 Israeli police seen on the streets of the central Israeli city of Lod, where synaogues and cars were torched as well as shops damaged, by Arab residents rioted in the city. May 12, 2021.  (photo credit: YOSSI ALONI/FLASH90)
Israeli police seen on the streets of the central Israeli city of Lod, where synaogues and cars were torched as well as shops damaged, by Arab residents rioted in the city. May 12, 2021.
(photo credit: YOSSI ALONI/FLASH90)

Outgoing Defense Minister Benny Gantz is worried that the ongoing violence by Palestinians can lead to another outbreak of violence within the country’s mixed cities similar to what happened in Guardian of the Walls in 2021.

"I hope that we will not see a higher level of violence than we have seen so far that will start in Jerusalem and radiate to the West Bank, Gaza, and perhaps also to the northern arena,” outgoing Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Tuesday. 

“I hope that this will not happen, but given the current reality, it is not an impossible scenario.”

The Israeli military began Operation Break the Wave in April after a wave of deadly terror attacks inside Israel claimed the lives of 20 people. 

Gantz made the comments just hours after 65-year-old Shalom Sofer succumbed to wounds he sustained in a stabbing attack by a Palestinian youth in the West Bank village of al-Funduq near Kedumim last week.

 Shalom Sofer who was killed in a stabbing terror attack in the West Bank in October. (credit: Sofer family) Shalom Sofer who was killed in a stabbing terror attack in the West Bank in October. (credit: Sofer family)

He was the 10th civilian to be murdered since the beginning of Break the Wave.

Over 2,000 Palestinians have been arrested by Israeli security forces in raids and more than 125 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank and east Jerusalem this year, marking a significant increase in casualties compared to previous years. Last year a total of 76 Palestinians were killed and 20 were killed by Israel fire in 2020.

On Wednesday morning 17-year-old Mahdi Hashash was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers near Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus as he tried to throw an explosive device.

While Hamas has remained relatively quiet in Gaza, the terror group continues to incite Palestinians in the West Bank and even Israeli-Arabs in the south. 

Guardian of the Walls

During Guardian of the Walls in May 2021, about 520 outbreaks of violence were reported throughout Israel during the operation, killing three, injuring hundreds and leading to about 3,200 arrests. About NIS 48 million in damage was caused to civilian property and about NIS 10 million in damage was caused to police property.

Israeli politicians and the defense establishment have repeatedly warned that a repeat of a similar situation could occur in any future conflict as what happens in one place, does not necessarily remain there. 

This is a challenge that Israel’s security forces will have to continue to deal with.

With the Palestinian issue being a critical part of the country’s security, Gantz worked to reduce the conflict as must as possible with the Palestinians and met several times with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

But due to the current situation on the ground, he still hasn’t decided if he will meet with him ahead of leaving office.

"I came to talk to whoever is possible and to fight whoever is necessary, the two are not mutually exclusive,” he said Tuesday. But, “the steps that the Palestinians are currently taking in The Hague and the UN are serious and are harming the ability to improve the situation in the region, and do not serve their interests."