The escalation of Palestinian resistance in the West Bank (WB), during the first half of 2023, prompted successive Israeli calls to implement a large-scale military operation to stop them.
After twenty-one years, since the end of Operation Defensive Shield (2002), Israeli calls to implement a new version of it have increased, in order to confront the resistance operations in WB that have been escalating since February 2022. However, the Israeli vision of the nature of the expected operation is not clear, in light of the divergence of military, security and political positions, and the existence of many obstacles on the ground. These resistance operations have resulted in the killing and injury of dozens of Israelis, thus weakening Israeli deterrence.
Al-Zaytouna Centre has published the Strategic Assessment 134 (in Arabic), which attempts to extrapolate the Israeli positions towards probable military operation. It discusses various reasons and motives to implement such operation, on one hand, most importantly the unprecedented increase of Israeli killings in many years, and the remarkable development of resistance action; but on the other hand, there are many constraints that prevent its implementation, such as the lack of real conviction—especially in military and security circles—that such an operation is capable of stopping the resistance expansion in WB, and Israeli concerns that it may lead to an increase of human losses.
The assessment explored the most important Israeli positions whether those of the security forces, military or the government, and discussed the various scenarios of such operation. The right-wing government and the Israeli army received several demands concerning that operation, one is that it would be a repetition of the Operation Defensive Shield, i.e., a complete re-invasion of WB. Others demanded that it would focus on northern WB only, specifically Jenin and Nablus, which constitute the real centers of resistance. Also others demanded to continue in the same manner of Operation Breakwater, which has been implemented since March 2022, in addition to restoring the aerial assassinations policy, which is an unmistakable sign that some areas of WB are currently out of Israel’s control. However, it is most likely that Israel would mix the above approaches, but without having guarantees that these attempts would stop the resistance. These developments mean that more serious efforts should be exerted to protect the Palestinian people and stop the aggression.
The assessment advised those concerned with the Palestine issue to prepare for the worst scenario, even if it is unlikely. The internal Israeli changes and the escalation of resistance are capable of turning things upside down. The assessment also warned against aerial assassinations, and recommended the increase of Palestinian political and diplomatic action that exposes the Israeli settlement plans and reveals the right-wing government’s intentions to exploit these escalations to change the facts on the ground at the expense of the Palestinian right. It also called for the protection of Palestinians from settler crimes, while calling on the Palestinian Authority, as well as international powers and institutions, to carry out their duties.
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>>Strategic Assessment (134): The Chances of Israel Launching a Large-Scale Invasion in the West Bank (Arabic) (18 pages, 1.6 MB)