West Bank a Time Bomb Waiting to Explode, IPS, Analysis by Mel Frykberg, Apr 16, 2009
RAMALLAH, Apr 16 (IPS) - Tension between Israel and Palestinians is rising sharply as reflected in a number of increasingly bloody and violent confrontations since Israel's devastating war in Gaza at the beginning of the year.
While Gaza, which the Islamic organisation Hamas controls, has been a powder-keg for several years, recent attacks in the West Bank, which is under the control of the secular Palestinian Authority (PA) that is Israel's peace partner, are causing alarm.
"The West Bank is a ticking time-bomb waiting for the right time and the right conditions to explode," Dr Samir Awad from the political science department at Birzeit University near Ramallah in the West Bank told IPS.
Last week a 16-year-old settler boy from the illegal Israeli Bat Ayin settlement, situated between Bethlehem and Hebron in the southern West Bank, was axed to death by a Palestinian. Another seven-year-old settler boy was hospitalised with a fractured skull in the same incident.
Earlier in the year two Israeli policemen were shot dead at point blank range after they stopped to help what appeared to be a broken down car with a flat tyre in the northern West Bank.
Even more serious was the discovery of a car laden with explosives in the parking lot of a large shopping centre in the northern Israeli city Haifa last month. The bomb was deactivated in time.
It is believed that West Bankers or possibly Israeli-Arabs were behind this, again pointing to increasing militancy from the West Bank or even within Israeli's own borders.
Suicide attacks or bombings against Israeli civilian targets within Israel's borders have over the last few years largely become a thing of the past.
However, settler attacks on Palestinians, leading to serious injuries and numerous deaths as well property destruction, have risen. Over the years these attacks have been meticulously recorded by Israeli human rights organisation B'Tselem.
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