Palestine on the Brink

The Unsustainable Status Quo

Members of Hamas' security forces cast shadows on a wall, September 12, 2010. Ismail Zaydah / Reuters

On January 31, Amjad Sukkari, a Palestinian father of four, drove to an Israeli military checkpoint just outside of the central West Bank city of Ramallah. As he approached what's locally known as the “VIP” crossing—it is used by diplomats, humanitarian workers, and Palestinian Authority (PA) officials—Sukkari, who was part of the Ramallah district attorney's security detail, drew a gun and shot three soldiers, wounding them, before he was killed himself.

Sukkari's attack marked the second time in recent months that a PA security officer had opened fire on Israelis. The first time was in December 2015, when an intelligence officer shot two Israelis at the Hizma checkpoint near Jerusalem. Mazen Ariebeh, also a father of four, was shot dead at the scene. He happened to be the nephew of Saeb Erekat, a lead Palestinian negotiator of the 1993 Oslo Accords, which led to the establishment of the PA.

These two incidents occurred during a wave of stabbings and other attacks against Israelis, mostly by disgruntled Palestinian youth, that began in October 2015. Throughout this period, more than 180 Palestinians and 28 Israelis have been killed. The violence, particularly by the PA officials, reflects an unprecedented level of malaise that has settled over Palestinian life in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. With no end in sight to the Israeli occupation, and a broken economy, the situation is so unsustainable that even the PA’s security forces, on which Israeli authorities rely as their first line of defense, have started to turn against Israel. Sukkari and Ariebeh had families and stable jobs, yet they found it increasingly difficult to ignore the contradictory nature of their daily work as security officers—coordinating with the Israeli army as it carried out near-daily arrests and killings of other Palestinians.


Israeli security forces stand guard near the scene where a Palestinian, who Israeli military said tried to stab soldiers, was shot dead by Israeli forces at Beit El checkpoint near the West Bank city of Ramallah, February 26, 2016. Mohamad Torokman /

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