Over the last two weeks, the Israeli army has beeninvading the Palestinian city of Ramallah and conducting a series of military incursions which has almost entirely escaped international attention.
On Saturday, we saw this escalate when they took up position in front of the Ramallah municipality and various high-end establishments. In a scene reminiscent of the Second Intifada, clashes ensued when the shabab (the youth) responded to the invasion with rocks, taking cover behind the dozens of expensive cars lined up in this fancy part of the city. The soldiers reciprocated with tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets. They also harassed and pushed around journalists, medics and bystanders. There were arrests, ransacking of establishments and dozens of tear gas-related injuries. This demonstration of collective punishment also left a rather bewildered population, with many pondering what the Israeli military was actually doing in Ramallah this time.
The official justification provided by the Israeli army is that they were confiscating private security cameras that would provide footage of the apparent Palestinian assailants. Meanwhile, others have speculated that this could be an attempt by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to gain electoral points and show the Israeli public that he means business when it comes to the Palestinians. This justification does not hold up, as the Israeli media has not been reporting on the invasions. And, as usual, the majority of Jewish Israelis have no idea what's going on in Ramallah. The army justification is also flimsy because it would not take them a week to confiscate all the cameras they need from the area. More so, because Israel has the occupied West Bank under intensive drone surveillance.
What's more likely is that Israel is flexing its muscles in order to put pressure on the Palestinian Authority (PA) to yield further politically by reminding them that they can literally come into their backyard and do whatever they like. It is also part of a systematic effort to keep Palestinians in a state of uncertainty and siege, something which the Israeli regime has perfected in Gaza.