Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Middle East Media Sampler 1/29/13: Is A Third Intifada Coming?

From +David Gerstman:

1) Third Intifada?

In Israel and Palestine prepare for a third intifada, Jonathan Schanzer wrote earlier this month:
There has been a steady drumbeat of bad news coming out of the Palestinian West Bank in recent weeks. Attacks against Israelis from the West Bank are undeniably on the rise. The spike came in November, around the same time Palestine Liberation Organization chairman Mahmoud Abbas went to the United Nations seeking an upgrade in the status of his mission, despite objections by Israel and the United States. His message was simple: The Palestinians will not cooperate with Israel while it controls territory that Palestinians claim as their own. 
Coincidence or not, there were 70 recorded attacks in October, according to Israeli security services, followed by a spike to 171 in November. In December, a Palestinian motorist rammed an Israeli army jeep carrying officers and then attacked them with an axe. In another incident, two Palestinians breached an Israeli military base, assaulted a soldier, and absconded with his weapon. Earlier this month, after residents discovered undercover Israeli agents in Jenin, at least thirty people were injured in a clash. There have been other cases, reminiscent of the 1987 intifada, where Israeli personnel have been pummeled with a hail of stones.
Despite the increase in attacks, Schanzer writes that it isn't entirely clear that another intifada is going on or imminent:

Despite the daunting data, a new uprising is far from certain. For one, activists don't appear to have galvanized the online community. The twitter handle @ThirdIntifada has a modest 15,835 followers by last count and the "Third Intifada" Facebook site has a little more than 8,000 "likes." Judging from social media, the threat of a mass uprising isn't exactly acute. It's also worth noting that "intifada" means different things to different Palestinians. Some believe it means a full-fledged war, as it did from 2000 to 2005, when suicide bombings dominated the headlines. Others believe it means rock-throwing and civil disobedience, as was the case (with violent exceptions) in the 1987 to 1990 disturbances.
Now, Ynet reports Kfir Brigade chief: Situation on the ground changing:
As part of its exercises, the brigade drilled more than urban warfare and joint operation with the IAF; extending its training to include filming proof that the terror groups operating in its sectors are using kindergartens and mosques as their bases of operations, as well as using the local population as human shields. 
Kfir Brigade officers explained that the troops will be required to make obtaining such proof part of their operational goals. 
"The trends on the ground are changing," Kfir Brigade Commander Colonel Udi Ben Muha told Ynet.
Count on some media outlets to miss the picture. The Washington Post reports, Fatal shootings of unarmed Palestinians raise concerns about Israeli use of force:
In a report issued Monday on the military’s crowd-control techniques in the West Bank, the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said that security forces were “extensively and systematically” violating their own rules of engagement when using both non-lethal weapons and live ammunition against protesters, with fatal results. The report said 48 Palestinians had been killed since 2005 by live ammunition fired by soldiers at stone-throwers, six more were killed by rubber-coated bullets fired at less than the permitted range, and two died when they were hit by tear-gas canisters fired directly at protesters in violation of regulations. While the army called the report a “biased narrative” and said the incidents were exceptions, it has signaled its own concern over the recent killings, which are being investigated by military police. The commander of Israeli forces in the West Bank, Brig. Gen. Hagai Mordechai, last week ordered commanding officers to review the recent incidents and the rules of engagement, in order to “draw operational conclusions,” an army spokesman said.
Why 2005? Is it to increase to pad the numbers? 48 deaths over seven years hardly suggests an out of control military. Furthermore, the situations over the past seven years change, so a report like this is inflammatory, not informative. (In one of the cases of the stone thrower who was hit by a tear gas canister, a photograph of the incident shows a large rock headed towards the soldiers.) The reporter acknowledges at the beginning of the article that there has been an increase in low level violence. But by highlighting the B'tselem report, he distracts from the main problem.

2) Only you

In Palestine as a source of international dysfunction, Malcolm Lowe starts with:
The phenomenon of "Palestine" is becoming a misfortune for any international institution in which it crops up. This is because those institutions are governed by councils whose members are states. Whenever "Palestine" is on the agenda, these states vote according to the policies of their respective governments, regardless of any principles that are supposed to guide the institution in question.  
He shows how in a number of areas, "Palestine" is treated uniquely much to the detriment of any country or organization with which it is involved.

The other side, as Elder of Ziyon shows in a couple of recent posts, is that Israel, too, is treated uniquely, much to its detriment. Not surprisingly those cheerleaders for Palestine are those who also hold Israel to standards that no other country is expected to observe.

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