Analysis: W. Bank disturbances not intifada, yet

Security sources say term "third intifada" to describe upsurge in clashes is misused, but IDF must avoid Palestinian casualties.

Palestinian protest flame HawaraCheckpoint 370 (photo credit: Abed Omar Qusini)
Palestinian protest flame HawaraCheckpoint 370
(photo credit: Abed Omar Qusini)
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 IDF.
As the army lost control of the situation, mass rioting was accompanied by deadly Palestinian terrorist attacks within Israel.
In 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 superiors.
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.