The Israeli military raided Ramallah one week ago, imposing a vast security cordon on the West Bank city and carrying out search operations and a major campaign of arrests among Palestinian citizens. The operation, carried out under the pretext of looking for the perpetrators of two shootings, one of them fatal, near the settlements of Borkan and Ofra, represented a major challenge to longstanding security agreements with the Palestinian Authority.
This is not the first time that Israeli forces have raided areas under Palestinian security administration. However, there seems to be a steady uptick.
In a statement, the office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the raids on official offices and other locations meant to be fully under his control.
The raids, he said, “have crossed all limits and we can’t be silent about [this] anymore.”
He vowed to contact the relevant parties and urge them to address these violations of longstanding, internationally-backed agreements.
“The leadership will evaluate the situation to take the necessary steps and decisions to protect and serve the interests of our people,” he said.
Entering Area A
Political analyst Ashraf al-Agramy tells Asia Times that the Israeli army raids on cities that are under Palestinian control are a violation of all treaties signed with the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), which prohibit troops from carrying out any operations in the Palestinian Authority’s territories, classified as Area A.
The temporary Oslo Accords were signed in September 1995 by the PLO and Israel, and they entailed the categorization of Palestinian territories into three zones:
Area A – which includes Ramallah – is under full Palestinian control, with the PLO in charge of both security and administration. This zone comprises less than one-fifth (18%) of the West Bank. In Area B, the Palestinian Authority is responsible for maintaining general order, but Israel maintains full security control. This accounts for 18.3% of the West Bank. The largest swathes of territory, or nearly two-thirds of the West Bank, are included in Area C. The Israeli military is fully in control of this zone.
The goal of the repeated Israeli raids into areas from which they are officially barred, Agramy believes, is to try to deter all Palestinian resistance, including armed resistance.
“Israel wants to prove that it has the upper hand in Palestinian-ruled territories, aiming to undermine the Palestinian Authority and diminish its public support,” the analyst said.
Undermining a key partner
The latest events in Ramallah prompted the Palestinian Authority to voice its objection to major powers as well as the UN and its Security Council.
Abbas has repeatedly asserted his commitment to treaties with Israel, especially those concerning security coordination, and so the raids put him in an uncomfortable situation.
“Since Israel is not abiding by treaties, the Palestinian Authority should also prove that it can’t abide by its agreements with the Israeli side,” said Agramy.
The Israeli security apparatus, for its part, has warned of the danger of undermining the power of the Palestinian Authority – a key partner – in the West Bank.
While the US has traditionally served as a mediator between the two sides, the Trump administration has also undermined the Palestinian position over the past year by moving its embassy to Jerusalem, defunding UNRWA, and taking other steps that have compelled Abbas’s government to preemptively reject the American peace plans.
The West Bank has witnessed repeated attacks in recent months, while a weekly confrontation takes place in the Gaza Strip, which is under siege by the Israelis. More than 230 Palestinians were killed and hundreds more were injured in the strip in confrontations near the Israeli border since late March, according to the local health authority.
Israel continues to expand settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, where 600,000 settlers live among approximately 3 million Palestinians.