David Kenner takes the pulse of the West Bank, where the Gaza bombings have inspired a wave of recent demonstrations, raising fears of a general uprising:
A massive protest last week seemed to momentarily challenge the conventional wisdom that the West Bank was not ready for another uprising. In the largest West Bank demonstration in decades, thousands of Palestinians marched to the Qalandiya checkpoint, where they clashed with Israeli security forces — at least two Palestinians were killed in the violence, and the shops nearby were gutted by fire. The demonstration showed the undeniable Palestinian anger at the war in Gaza, which has so far claimed over 1,400 Palestinian lives. The dynamics of how it was organized, however, suggest that it may prove difficult to replicate. …
There are still demonstrations in the West Bank, but in the absence of active support by the upper echelons of the political leadership, they have remained relatively small and easy for Israeli forces to disperse. Around midafternoon on Aug. 1, dozens of protesters gathered at Ofer Prison, which holds roughly 1,000 Palestinian prisoners and is a common flashpoint for protests. No Fatah flags were in evidence, though many people who dotted the demonstrations carried Hamas’s green flag.
But eventually, David Shulman imagines, the protest movement may become too big for Israel to manage:
Qalandia was one dramatic event, quickly followed by others in Bethlehem, Beit Umar (where three Palestinians were killed), Husan (two killed), and elsewhere. Even if the army somehow manages to suppress the protests now, the Qalandia march shows us what may happen sometime soon. Those of us who are familiar with the situation in the territories have known for years that the thin veil of stability could be torn away at any moment, revealing the volatile reality underneath; and we have also known, as do the grassroots leaders in the villages and towns, that the Occupation will perhaps end when some form of mostly nonviolent resistance achieves large numbers. Tens of thousands of Palestinians may someday be able to wash over the army’s barricades, no doubt at considerable cost in lives; Israel has no viable answer to such a process. No one should, however, assume that when this happens—a third Intifada—it will be entirely Gandhian in tone. And what begins as peaceful civil resistance can swiftly change its color. It could begin tomorrow, or in a year or two, or five.
(Photo: A Palestinian protester holds an Islamic flag walking towards Israeli forces during clashes in the West Bank town of Hebron on August 1, 2014 following a demonstration against Israel’s military operation in the Gaza Strip and in support of Gaza’s people. By Hazem Bader/AFP/Getty Images)