Calm re­turns, but Pales­tinian ‘win’ could spell trou­ble ahead

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY ANSHEL PF­EF­FER

AS MUS­LIMS en­tered the Al-Aqsa com­pound last Fri­day, the mo­ment of truth came for the lat­est round of Is­raeli-Pales­tinian vi­o­lence.

The se­cu­rity mea­sures erected since the July 14 mur­der of two Is­raeli po­lice of­fi­cers — the metal de­tec­tors, fences, sur­veil­lance cam­eras — were gone, but only men over 50 were per­mit­ted to en­ter. Thou­sands of youths gath­ered once again in the al­ley­ways lead­ing to the com­pound, to pray un­der the watch­ful eyes of po­lice.

The prayers over, nearly all of them dis­persed qui­etly. A few scuf­fles broke out but th­ese were brief. Vi­o­lent demon­stra­tions took place in the af­ter­noon in sev­eral places in the West Bank, and on the Gaza border fence, where one Pales­tinian youth was killed, but th­ese were also much smaller than the pre­vi­ous Fri­day. An­other Pales­tinian try­ing to stab sol­diers at the Gush Etzyon junc­tion was shot dead — but this is what passes for rel­a­tive calm in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The days since have been largely quiet as well; the visit of a record num­ber of Jews to Tem­ple Mount for Tisha B’Av on Tues­day morn­ing passed off peace­fully. The IDF pres­ence in the West Bank was re­in­forced by ad­di­tional bat­tal­ions, but the feel­ing within the Is­raeli es­tab­lish­ment is that, bar­ring un­ex­pected events, this round of vi­o­lence is over.

A num­ber of factors con­trib­uted to the brevity of this spate of un­rest. On

the Pales­tinian side, there is still lit­tle ap­petite for more dis­tur­bances as the lead­er­ship is dis­tracted by the wors­en­ing Fatah-Ha­mas re­la­tions and the prospect of Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas’ de­par­ture. Nearly 200,000 Pales­tini­ans from the West Bank and East Jerusalem work within the Green Line and they are re­luc­tant to jeop­ar­dise their in­come.

Is­rael’s se­cu­rity forces have also

be­come more adept at con­tain­ing ri­ot­ing at iso­lated lo­ca­tions. In many cases, thanks to their mon­i­tor­ing of so­cial me­dia, they have suc­ceeded in track­ing down and ap­pre­hend­ing at­tack­ers in ad­vance. Fur­ther afield, other wars and mor e se­vere crises through­out the Mid­dle East are de­priv­ing the Pales­tinian con­flict of the oxy­gen of pub­lic­ity. There is also the weather. This has been the

hottest July in mem­ory and in­tifadas do not break out at the height of sum­mer.

There is, though, an omi­nous sign. The Pales­tini­ans re­gard the Is­raeli de­ci­sion to re­turn to the sta­tus quo of be­fore July 14 as a vic­tory for their pres­sure on Is­rael. The next time some­thing like this hap­pens, Is­rael may not back down so eas­ily. The pres­sure could lead to a much big­ger ex­plo­sion.

PHO­TOS: GETTY IM­AGES

Is­raeli border guards keep watch over Pales­tinian wor­ship­pers the Al-Aqsa mosque com­pound

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