Reportage. The Palestinian National Authority is getting weaker and weaker. West Bank cities explode. Israeli Defense Minister Gantz threatens with an iron fist.

Protests in the West Bank: ‘They wanted to divide us but we are one people’

After meeting with Israeli leaders, the United States envoy to the Middle East, Hady Amr, went to the occupied West Bank for talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, with whom Joe Biden had also spoken on the phone. His objective was to reach an end to the hostilities between Israelis and Palestinians.

But these were useless talks, because of the fact that the U.S. is still on the side of Israel. Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) in Ramallah are the most marginal element, powerless, unable to affect this crisis in any way. The PNA can only worry that the Hamas-Israel clash and the suffering of the people of Gaza might end up burning down the West Bank.

The 11 people killed by Israeli gunfire in Friday’s demonstrations are a clear sign of the tension and anger mounting in the autonomous cities, from Ramallah to Bethlehem, from Hebron to Jenin. The burning of the Palestinian police station in the village of Urif did not go unnoticed.

“I believe it is an isolated incident, but beyond the events in Urif, Mahmoud Abbas and the PNA are now weaker,” Abu Khalil Al Lahham told il manifesto Saturday, as the long procession for the anniversary of the Nakba—the “catastrophe,” when Palestinians remember the hundreds of thousands of refugees from the 1948 war and the loss of their land—got underway in Bethlehem.

“Something important has been set in motion that has not been seen for a long time, and it will not stop. And not only in the Occupied Territories,” added Al Lahham, a sort of political observer of the people, well-known and respected in the Dheisheh refugee camp.

“The plan of the Israeli settlers to evict the Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah [East Jerusalem] using deception and force has stirred up our young people,” he explains, “because here in the West Bank, in many villages, they are facing raids by colonists every day. There are many young Palestinians, and they are tired of the Israeli occupation, of the colonies, of the PNA, of the world that talks and does nothing, of everything.”

His cousin Murad says he was very surprised by the mobilization of the Palestinians of Israel. “For over 70 years, Israel has been working to divide us into many groups: Arab Israelis, Palestinians, Druze, Circassians, Christians, Muslims, etc.” he says. “The events in Jerusalem were enough, and in just one day we were one people once again.”

Demonstrations and rallies were held on Saturday in many places of the West Bank, animated by the anniversary of the Nakba but not only that. Many slogans and banners referred to Gaza and Jerusalem. Clashes between demonstrators and Israeli soldiers occurred in Al Bireh and Balua (Ramallah), and in the places where army checkpoints are cutting into Palestinian villages and towns. “I want to send a message to the Palestinians of Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]: the state of Israel is not interested in escalation, but it is ready for any scenario,” threatened Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

But the variables that he will have to take into account are getting more complicated by the hour. On Saturday, hundreds of young Lebanese and Palestinians gathered behind the concrete wall erected at the Blue Line that marks the Lebanese border, to express their solidarity with the Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank and commemorate one of their comrades, killed on Friday by shots fired by Israeli soldiers. Some of them managed to climb a metal tower along the wall, near Kfar Kila.

And the situation remains tense in Jordan as well, where thousands of people demonstrated near the border with Israel two days ago.

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