Israel’s military campaign in the Gaza Strip has dominated the headlines for much of the month, focusing attention on the appalling conditions in the densely populated, blockaded territory.
During the current offensive, analysts and politicians have pointed out that Israel has not been waging war against Hamas, but against the people of Gaza. But Israel continues to treat Palestinians as an occupied population to be crushed, and this extends to the West Bank as well.
People in the West Bank have their own, similar set of grievances, as they are subjected to a subtler type of Israeli blockade. In recent days they have taken to the streets in growing numbers to express their outrage at what is happening in Gaza, but their anger and despair won’t disappear if the guns suddenly fall silent to the south.
West Bankers spend every day waiting for the news of the Israeli government’s next land grab. They are at the mercy of armed Israeli settlers. They have to negotiate a series of demeaning roadblocks, checkpoints and other measures, all in the name of Israel’s security. They are at the mercy of arbitrary detention and worse.
And now, they are engaged in violent confrontations with Israeli soldiers and settlers in villages and towns around the West Bank. If Israel doesn’t address the grievances of Palestinians – all Palestinians – or if the international community is unwilling to exert pressure in this direction, a new intifada should be expected. It’s a simple case of a people, under siege, who have nothing to lose.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 26, 2014, on page 7.