Israel's next surprise will come from the West Bank

Israel’s next surprise will come from the West Bank

Article by Gideon Lévy published in the Israeli daily Haaretz

The next surprise won’t be one. It will perhaps be less deadly than the previous one, on October 7, but its price will be high. When it falls on us, leaving us stunned by the brutality of the enemy, no one will be able to pretend that they did not know it was coming.

The army will not be able to do this, because it has constantly issued warnings, but has not moved a finger to prevent it. The responsibility of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) will therefore be just as great as for the massacre in the south, and just as important as that of the settlers and politicians who allegedly prevent them from acting.

The next pressure cooker that’s going to blow up in our faces is boiling in the West Bank. The IDF knows this; its commanders constantly warn us about this. These are hypocritical and moralizing warnings intended to cover the rear of the army. These warnings are brazen, because the IDF, with its own hands and its own soldiers, is fanning the fire just as much as the settlers.

To claim that we might find ourselves fighting on another front just because of the settlers is a lie and duplicity. If the Israeli army had wanted, it could have acted immediately to ease tensions. If it had wanted, it would have acted against the settlers, as a normal army is required to do towards local militias and armed groups.

Israel’s enemies in the West Bank include the settlers, and the IDF is doing nothing to stop them. Its soldiers actively participate in pogroms, shockingly mistreating residents – photographing and humiliating them, killing and arresting them, destroying memorials, such as that of Yasser Arafat in Tulkarem, and uprooting thousands from their beds. All this adds fuel to the fire and increases tension.

Vengeful soldiers, envious of their compatriots in Gaza, are unleashed in the occupied territories, their fingers light and enthusiastic on the trigger. Nearly 200 Palestinians have been killed there since the start of the war, and no one is stopping them. No regional commander, division commander or field commander is stopping the rampage. It is hard to believe that they are also paralyzed by fear of the settlers. After all, they are considered brave.

The colonists are ecstatic. The smell of blood and destruction rising from Gaza incites them to lash out like never before. No more fairy tales about lone wolves or bad seeds. The colonization company, with its procession of political officials and funding, does not fight against the pogroms that emanate from it. War is their payday, their big chance.

Under the cover of war and Hamas brutality, they seized the opportunity to expel as many Palestinians as possible from their villages – especially the poorest and smallest – before the great expulsion that will take place afterward. the next war, or the one that follows.

This week I visited no man’s land in the southern Hebron Hills. Things have never looked like this before. Each settler is now a member of a “security team”. Each “security team” is an armed, savage militia that has the right to mistreat ranchers and farmers and evict them.

Sixteen villages in the West Bank have already been abandoned and the eviction continues at full speed. Essentially, the IDF does not exist. Israel, which has never been interested in what is happening in the West Bank, will certainly not hear about it again. The international media are paying close attention to this and understand where this is going.

Behind all this, we find the same Israeli arrogance which allowed the surprise of October 7. The lives of Palestinians are considered less than nothing. Caring about their fate and occupation is considered an obsessive nuisance. The prevailing idea is that if we ignore it, the stars will align one way or another.

What is happening in the West Bank reflects an incredible situation. Even after October 7, Israel learned nothing. If the current disaster in the south fell upon us after years of siege, denial and indifference, the next one will fall because after its predecessor, Israel did not take the warnings, threats and seriousness seriously. of the situation.

The West Bank groans in pain and no one in Israel listens to its cry for help. The settlers are going on a rampage and no one in Israel is trying to stop them. How far can the Palestinians go? Israel will have to foot the bill no matter what. It will be cold or hot, but very bloody in both cases.

Gideon Lévy

Translation: AFPS