As the death toll rises and clashes mount between Palestinian communities and Israel security forces, the conditions for a widespread street uprising—or intifada—are again taking shape in the occupied West Bank.
Two Palestinians, a teenager and a young man, were killed in separate incidents overnight as violence escalated in the occupied territories with Israeli military units continuing a week of aggressive raids in response to three missing Israeli teenagers who are believed kidnapped.
The Israeli government has said the three missing Israeli teenagers—Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaer and Naftali Frankel—were kidnapped by Hamas, but Hamas leaders deny involvement.
Leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, has said that Israel is now using the teenagers' disappearance as "a pretext to impose tough punishment against [the Palestinian] people" living in the West Bank and Gaza.
As the Ma'an news agency reports:
Israeli forces shot and killed a 14-year-old Palestinian boy after clashes erupted early Friday morning during a raid on the southern West Bank village of Dura, near Hebron.
Local sources told Ma'an that Mahmoud Jihad Muhammad Dudeen was struck by live bullets in the chest before being taken to Hebron Governmental Hospital, where he was shortly pronounced dead.
The local sources said Israeli forces opened fire directly on Mahmoud during the clashes which occurred in the Haninia neighborhood of Dura.
The clashes broke out after Israeli forces stormed the village in a dawn raid and began conducting home raids. In response, local youths threw rocks at the soldiers.
Later, Ma'an reported on the second incident which took the life of 22-year-old Mustafa Hosni Aslan, who shot in the head by IDF forces during an IDF raid on the Qalandiya refugee camp south of Ramallah. Three others were also seriously wounded by gunfire.
As seemingly isolated incident now spirals, a not unfamiliar phrase is now creeping back into the fold: Third Intifada.
On Thursday, in response to the IDF raids and threats to expel Hamas members from the West Bank, a senior member of the political faction Salah Bardawil, reportedly said, "We are capable of igniting a third Intifada and this is our irrevocable right. It will go off when enough pressure is exerted on the Palestinian people."
Conjured mostly in the Israeli press, the idea that the ongoing raids could spark a large-scale uprising among Palestinians in the West Bank is not far-fetched.
However, as Middle East expert and researcher Samer Badawi, writing at the +972 website observes: "If Israel is hoping to provoke Hamas into launching a barrage of rockets from Gaza, the tactic has so far not worked."
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So far, nearly 300 Palestinians in the West Bank have been arrested as part of the IDF's crackdown began earlier this week. With the level of violence and tensions within Palestinian communities escalating, new talk is emerging of the possibility of a Third Intifada.
Israel's air force has also continued to bomb targets in the Gaza Strip, with strikes overnight resulting in injuries to the civilians population in the sealed-off enclave, including children.
According to Haaretz: "Sources in Gaza report that six people, including four children, were lightly wounded by shrapnel resulting from an IAF strike. The airstrike targeted several storage facilities, which according to Palestinian sources served civilian purposes."
Offering analysis of the overall situation that has resulted from the alleged kidnapping of the young Israeli settlers, Daoud Kuttab, a Palestinian journalist and former professor at Princeton University, says that recent events should not be viewed without the full context of the ongoing occupation in West Bank.
"It is a basic strategic recipe: If you take away hope for a political solution, you have to expect a spike in violence," argues Kuttab. "Add to this formula a hunger strike by over 100 Palestinians imprisoned without charge or trial, that has lasted almost two months without a single attempt to negotiate or hear the prisoners' demands and you have trouble."
Search for the missing Israelis is useless if it does not include a serious attempt to address the underlying causes of the violence that is the result of a sense of helplessness and despair.
As Palestinian areas enter the 48th year under a foreign military occupation that has along with it a colonial settler campaign, one should not be surprised by violent acts here and there.
The sooner all parties reflect on the larger lessons of this act the sooner we can begin the process of moving towards independence for Palestinians and security for Israelis.