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February 16, 2022 2:10 pm

IDF West Bank Commander Warns of Possible Violence During Ramadan: ‘It Lacks Only a Match’

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

A Palestinian demonstrator throws a tire onto a fire during a protest against Israeli settlements, in the West Bank May 28, 2021. Photo: REUTERS/Raneen Sawafta

The Israeli government and security forces are increasingly concerned that a major outbreak of violence could take place in the West Bank and Jerusalem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Israeli public broadcaster Kan reported.

In a document sent to Israeli commanders and revealed by Kan on Tuesday, Brig. Gen. Avi Bluth, head of the military’s West Bank division, warned, “The combustible material already exists, it lacks only a match.”

The “match,” he said, could be a targeted assassination of terrorists, riots in the Jerusalem flashpoint neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah and the Temple Mount, or the death of Palestinians during public disturbances.

The most likely time for such disturbances is the upcoming month of Ramadan, which begins in April and is often a time of increased tension and violence.

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An anonymous government source told Kan that there is particular concern regarding the situation in eastern Jerusalem, where “provocations” by Jewish and Palestinian nationalists are taking place almost daily in Sheikh Jarrah.

Frequent clashes have broken out in that neighborhood in recent days, as Palestinian residents resort to violence in order to prevent Jews from moving in.

Sheikh Jarrah has become a magnet for extremists on both sides, with far-right Kahanist politician Itamar Ben Gvir setting up a makeshift “office” in the neighborhood, and Israeli-Arab lawmakers frequently visiting to support the Palestinian residents, sometimes with fiery rhetoric.

“Jerusalem is a sensitive place, we need to stand up for the security of the residents of the [Sheikh Jarrah] neighborhood, on the freedom of prayer, and not give up a millimeter — but we also need to prevent provocation that leads us to bad places,” said the source.

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