Israeli intelligence fears ‘explosive’ month of Ramadan in West Bank

The Israeli Ynet news website says that concerned authorities have submitted a list of measures that seek to stifle actions in the occupied West Bank in the coming month.

  • Muslim worshippers who were denied entry to al-Aqsa Mosque by Israeli occupation forces pray on the street near the complex in occupied al-Quds, occupied Palestine, on December 22, 2023. (AP)

Israeli military and intelligence authorities have expressed concern regarding the upcoming month of Ramadan, recommending that concerned authorities ease measures against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and al-Quds.

Ramadan is set to commence in early March this year, and the holy month is synonymous with several occasions that Muslims celebrate. Recently, the occupation has severely restricted the entry of Palestinians to one of the holiest sites, al-Aqsa Mosque, in occupied al-Quds. The measure comes hand in hand with increased systematic oppression of Palestinians in the occupied territory, including wide-scale detention campaigns and assassinations against Palestinians in the West Bank.

In this context, Israeli military and intelligence officials have recommended that restrictions be eased, fearing that “Hamas takes advantage of the most important time for Muslims, as a chance to ignite the [West Bank],” Yoav Zitun, the military affairs analyst for Israeli news website Ynet, wrote.

At the core of discussions in Israeli decision-making quarters is allowing Palestinian workers entry into ’48 occupied territories. According to Zitun, the Israeli authorities are discussing a process to permit 100,000 Palestinians to occupied territories. Thousands of Palestinian families seek work opportunities in occupied territories, due to degenerating economic conditions in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which comes as a direct result of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Since “Israel” launched its aggression on the Gaza Strip, it has also banned all Palestinian workers from entering ’48 occupied territories. 

Read more: ‘Israel’ releases thousands of detained workers back to Gaza

Reminiscent of May 2021

The second crucial measure being discussed is to allow a larger number of worshippers entry into al-Aqsa Mosque. In May 2021, Israeli restrictions paired with assaults against Palestinians in al-Quds and worshippers in al-Aqsa Mosque led to daily confrontations between worshippers and Israeli occupation forces in the religious site’s courtyards. In juxtaposition with rocket attacks launched by the Palestinian Resistance from the Gaza Strip, the scene highlighted a strong scene of unity between the two separated Palestinian territories. 

Such wide-scale actions in the West Bank and al-Quds have constituted a fear that haunts Israeli officials, as the month of Ramadan is believed to trigger greater mobilization among Palestinians.

The recommendations made by military and intelligence authorities are believed to have stifling effects on such a scenario, according to Ynet.

Read more: Israeli extremists desecrate al-Aqsa Mosque under protection of IOF

Fragile Israeli government pushes for escalation

Zitun says that staunch racists and far-right ministers Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir have strongly opposed such measures. In light of this opposition and the frail composition of the Israeli government, the recommendations were transferred between several working parties of the Israeli government until they were “diluted and halted.”

Nonetheless, the analyst said that “if the (Israeli) cabinet continues to ban the entry of workers and impose restrictions on movement during the month of Ramadan, [intelligence] indicates that these two bans may lead to violent disturbances during Ramadan and an increase in warnings of Palestinian attacks.”

Moving into March, the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip would have neared 150 days, exceeding five months of confrontations, siege, and all-out ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. Israeli authorities are aware of the explosive situation that might be put off in Ramadan if the war on the Gaza Strip is not stopped. On the other hand, Palestinian Resistance factions will look to activate other fronts to impose their demands of a ceasefire, prisoner exchange, and a massive rebuilding project of the Strip.

Read more: Exclusive: Resistance says no deal without permanent ceasefire

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