Unrest All Around: Israel Ripe for a Third Intifada?
BETHLEHEM, Israel -- As the war in the Gaza Strip continues, some fear a third intifada (armed Palestinian uprising) may be brewing.
Forty-six miles away from the fighting against Hamas terrorists in Gaza, there's another battle some say is being dangerously ignored by the world.
"My big concern right now is this -- is that the West Bank is being neglected with the riots that are being done every single night, almost now 13, 14 nights in a row," Pastor Steven Khoury, with Holy Land Missions, told CBN News.
Khoury, a prominent Christian Arab who lives in Bethlehem, worries the area is ripe for another intifada.
"I was born in Jerusalem. I grew up in Bethlehem. I remember how the first and second intifada started, and I'm seeing in this evidence of another outbreak of an intifada in the West Bank," he said.
Here on the streets, Palestinian protesters angry about Israel's war on Hamas are running daily skirmishes with Israeli soldiers and Palestinian Authority police. Several people have been killed and some injured.
A security barrier divides Israel and the West Bank. It was erected to protect Israelis from terrorist infiltrators.
For nearly two weeks there have been violent protests taking place near the security barrier in Bethlehem as well as other cities under P.A. control, such as Ramallah, Nablus (biblical Shechem) and Hebron.
Neither Israel nor the Palestinian Authority want to see another intifada in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria).
"We need to try and keep it calm and keep it controlled, but it might not be possible," Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, Israel Defense Forces spokesman, told CBN News.
To avoid further violence, Khoury, who co-pastors a prominent church in Bethlehem, is calling on parishioners to de-escalate the tensions.
"In Ecclesiastes it says there's a time to mourn, a time to laugh, a time to dance. This is a time I believe for neither [of the] three. This is a time we need to be peacemakers, we need to be a voice, a balance, a righteous voice in the midst of the wilderness," Khoury said.
For several weeks now, his church has been distributing copies of the New Testament and bottles of water wrapped with the Scripture verse "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God."
"We need to preach love, forgiveness, and acceptance," he continued. "We need to preach the message of do not overcome evil with evil, but overcome evil with good."
In the meantime, the U.S. State Department is warning Americans to avoid travel to Bethlehem and other cities in the West Bank because of ongoing hostilities in the region.