JERUSALEM, Israel – Hamas operatives appear to be stirring up violence in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas in the West Bank, days after a number of deadly terror attacks in that area.
Hamas Rally in the Gaza Strip, Screen Capture, AP
The Hamas prime minister in Gaza told chanting crowds that Palestinians in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) are essential to their cause.
"We place our hopes in the West Bank, which is the main area where events are occurring and the most appropriate area to resolve the conflict with our Zionist enemy. Jerusalem is in the West Bank, and there are many targets in sight for the resistance," said Ismail Haniyeh.
His call for "resistance" comes just days after the murder of three Israelis in two drive-by shootings within five days.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the site of one attack where two Israeli soldiers were killed.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Site of Drive-by Shooting, Photo, GPO
"As I heard from the commanders, the hunt is at its height. Over the weekend there were 100 arrests and yesterday 36. It's just a matter of time until we find this murderer as well as we found the others, and we will settle accounts with him as we have with the others. Palestinian terror will not uproot us from here. This place is the heart of our homeland," Netanyahu said.
Israelis want justice and action.
"Those people murdered my grandchild just a few days ago, who hadn't even been born, and wounded my daughter, who nearly died, and my son-in-law. And this has to stop. We are a democracy, we respect freedom, and this cannot be tolerated anymore," the baby's grandfather, Chaim Silberstein, said during a protest in front of the prime minister's Jerusalem residence.
Netanyahu promised action.
"We will strengthen the settlements even more than we have done until now, and we will take all the steps against terror, including additional steps. We will not tolerate terror from Gaza or from the West Bank. We will strike it forcefully," he said.
The Hamas prime minister wants to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to agree on a national agenda for what he calls "the coming phase."
Mahmoud Abbas, a/k/a/ Abu Mazen, Photo, AP Screen Capture
Palestinian affairs expert Pinhas Inbari, a senior researcher with the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) calls that a "pipe dream."
"Reconciliation with Hamas and Fatah will never happen. They want, they try, but after every trial the differences are bigger," Inbari told CBN News.
Some analysts say the failure of the United Nations to pass a resolution condemning Hamas earlier this month, combined with the Israeli truce to stop rocket fire from Gaza, emboldened the group.
Palestinian Affairs expert Pinhas Inbari, Photo, CBN News, Jonathan Goff
Inbari, however, says it's more likely this is part of a Palestinian power struggle because there is no one to replace the 83-year-old Abbas.
"The connection might be that everybody understands that we are now at the end of Abu Mazen's [Mahmoud Abbas] era, and this might be a part on the contest of the succession," he said.
Hamas Rally in Gaza, Photo, Screen Capture, AP
Whether this affects President Trump's peace plan remains to be seen. The elements of his proposal have yet to be revealed, and Inbari maintains it's better to keep it quiet.
"I think we have to take a lesson that after every peace initiative it appeared that the spoilers are stronger," he said. "So it's better not to present any open, dramatic peace plan because all the spoilers will jump in and spoil it."
Inbari believes it's better to follow through on good ideas and not talk about them.