IDF brass said to warn political leaders that West Bank on brink of violent eruption

TV report says Halevi and other top commanders told PM and war cabinet there’s a risk of major unrest due to tough economic conditions

Israeli security forces examine the scene of a Palestinian shooting attack, near Wadi al-Haramiya, West Bank, January 7, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
Israeli security forces examine the scene of a Palestinian shooting attack, near Wadi al-Haramiya, West Bank, January 7, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Security chiefs have warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu several times in recent days that the West Bank is on the brink of a major eruption in violence, Israeli television reported Monday.

According to Channel 12 news, the warnings were relayed by IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi and other senior military commanders, who said Israel risked a new front in the West Bank amid the war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip and ongoing clashes on the northern border with the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.

Besides Netanyahu, the report said the other members of the war cabinet — Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Minister Benny Gantz — were also warned of the prospect of major unrest in the West Bank.

The heightened concern comes on the heels of Israel’s withholding of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues that belong to the PA in addition to refusing to allow some 150,000 Palestinian workers return to their jobs in Israel and the settlements, the report said, noting Netanyahu’s refusal to hold security cabinet votes to reverse both decisions, given pressure from his far-right coalition partners.

“We may end up with a third Intifada [in the West Bank] because of the discontent resulting from the economic difficulty and lack of entry of workers to Israel,” the IDF commanders were quoted as saying.

The network added that the military’s assessment was shared by the Shin Bet security service.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi at a security assessment at the military’s Northern Command, December 7, 2023. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Also Monday, the Axios news site reported that UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed rebuffed a request from Netanyahu for Abu Dhabi to pay unemployment benefits to the Palestinian workers who Israel has refused to allow to return to their jobs since the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group’s onslaught on October 7.

“Ask Zelensky for money,” bin Zayed reportedly told Netanyahu, sarcastically suggesting that the Ukrainian president could foot the bill with all of the international support Kyiv has been getting since Russia’s invasion.

“The notion that Arab countries will come in to rebuild and pay the bill for what’s currently happening is wishful thinking,” an Emirati official told Axios.

MBZ couldn’t believe Netanyahu thought the UAE would be willing to pay for a problem that was created due to Israel’s decision not to allow the workers in, a source familiar with the matter told the news site.

This handout picture provided by the UAE Presidential Court shows UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (R) meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at al-Shati Palace in Abu Dhabi on January 8, 2024 (Photo by Abdulla AL-BEDWAWI / UAE PRESIDENTIAL COURT / AFP)

The reports came a day after an East Jerusalem Palestinian man was killed and a woman seriously wounded in a shooting near Ramallah, in what appeared to be the first deadly terror attack in the West Bank since November, though there have been several attempted attacks in that period. On December 31, two guards were injured in a stabbing at the entrance to the Mishor Adumim industrial zone, during which the assailant managed to grab a semi-automatic rifle.

It was also the latest of a series of incidents outside the northern quadrant of the West Bank, where much of the violence has been concentrated in recent years. Army raids have largely focused on Jenin, Nablus and Tulkarem, where they have attempted to uproot terror movements that had gained footholds.

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