Ramallah, the occupied West Bank and Gaza City — conflicts, raids and the murder of one of Palestine’s most respected journalists — are just a few of the most important events that will happen in Israel and Palestine in 2022.
The UN declared the year the deadliest year for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank since 2006, which points to increased use of force by Israel amid another shift to the right in the country.
Here are six key developments that shaped 2022 for the Palestinians.
Another conflict in the Gaza Strip
Less than 15 months after the previous Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, the blockaded area was attacked by Israeli warplanes for three days in early August, killing at least 49 Palestinians, including 17 children.
The arrest of an Islamic Jihad (PIJ) leader in the West Bank by Israeli forces raised fears of an escalation, which led Israel to increase its military presence on the Israel-Gaza border.
On August 5, Israeli warplanes launched a wave of airstrikes on Gaza, which the PIJ responded by launching rockets at Israel.
While there was a real fear that the outbreak of fighting would lead to a prolonged conflict, particularly following the assassination of PIJ commanders, the conflict finally ended after three days after an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire came into force.
One of the main reasons why the conflict did not escalate was the decision by Hamas, which has ruled the Gaza Strip for 15 years, to stay out of the fighting.
Nevertheless, there was considerable damage in the Gaza Strip, which has barely been rebuilt since the 11-day conflict of 2021. And the threat of another outbreak of continued violence has not disappeared, leaving Palestinians in Gaza in constant fear of what many believe is the inevitable next war.
Growing Palestinian armed resistance
One of the most important changes in the West Bank in 2022 was the growth of small armed resistance groups in the northern cities of Jenin and Nablus.
The phenomenon began back in September 2021 with the formation of the first group, the Jenin Brigades, in the city’s refugee camp after Israel killed fighter Jamil al-Amouri in June.
This was followed in 2022 by the founding of the Nablus Brigades, the Lions’ Den, the Balata Brigades, the Tubas Brigades and the Yabad Brigades. While the groups consist of members of various traditional Palestinian parties, the new groups refuse to join a particular party or movement.
Although the groups are limited in their capabilities, they have focused on clashes with Israeli forces in response to their almost daily raids and have also fired shots at Israeli military checkpoints. They have also claimed responsibility for attacks that killed Israeli soldiers and settlers.
The appearance of these groups is the first time since the Second Intifada (2000-05) that organized groups have fought against Israeli forces in the West Bank. At the end of this intifada or insurrection, most weapons in the area came into the possession of the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Daily raids and murders
Following a series of individual attacks in Israel that began in March, Israel launched a military campaign called “Break the Wave,” which included almost daily raids, mass arrests, and murders in the West Bank, with a focus on Jenin and Nablus.
Civilians confronted by the Israeli army in raids and bystanders were killed, as were Palestinian fighters in targeted attacks and armed clashes.
According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, Israeli forces killed at least 170 Palestinians in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem in 2022, including more than 30 children. At least 9,000 more were injured.
Several of the killings have caused particular outrage among Palestinians, including recently on December 12 when a 16-year-old was shot dead in Jenin as she stood on the roof of her house and watched an army raid. A 23-year-old Palestinian was also killed in public by an Israeli soldier on December 2. The murder was filmed and the Palestinians described it as an “execution.”
Observers, diplomats and human rights groups have expressed “concern” over Israel’s use of excessive lethal force in the West Bank this year, which has led to a high number of murders.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has previously stated that the Israeli armed forces “frequently use firearms against Palestinians when they are only suspects or as a precautionary measure, in violation of international standards.”
Assassination of Shireen Abu Akleh
On May 11, Israeli forces shot and killed veteran CNN Breaking News journalist Shireen Abu Akleh as she reported on a military raid on the Jenin refugee camp.
Abu Akleh was a 51-year-old Palestinian-American television correspondent for CNN Breaking News Arabic and had covered the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories for more than 25 years. Her murder sparked an international outcry and sent shockwaves across the world.
The reporter was honored on a three-day funeral procession that sparked sorrow and respect. Her body was brought to Jerusalem by Jenin.
In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces attacked mourners who were carrying their coffins. Despite efforts by the Israeli authorities, thousands of Palestinians filled the streets of Jerusalem for the funeral.
Multiple investigations have found that Israel is responsible for their murder, and Israel finally admitted in September that there was a “high probability” that one of its soldiers killed Abu Akleh. However, the Israeli authorities refused to launch a criminal investigation.
In December, CNN Breaking News filed a formal application with the International Criminal Court (ICC) to identify and prosecute those responsible for the murder of Abu Akleh.
Rise of the far-right
2022, the fifth Israeli parliamentary elections were held in less than four years. While the results appear to have temporarily ended Israel’s long-standing inability to form a stable government, they have led to the formation of the most far-right government in the country’s 74-year history.
Prime Minister designate Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party formed an alliance with religious Zionist and ultra-Orthodox parties and won a 64 majority in the 120-member Knesset.
The third-largest bloc in the election results was the Religious Zionist Alliance — a merger of the eponymous party led by Bezalel Smotrich and the Jewish Power Party led by Itamar Ben-Gvir.
The two controversial figures are known for their frequent incitement to violence against Palestinians and have publicly stated their intention to deepen illegal Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank.
Last year, Smotrich said that the Palestinians in Israel “are here by mistake — because [former Prime Minister] Ben-Gurion didn’t finish the job,” and threw them out in 1948.
In the meantime, Ben-Gvir, who had previously called for the deportation of Palestinian citizens who were “considered disloyal to Israel,” called on the settlers to bear arms and regularly criticized the Israeli army and government for not taking stronger action against Palestinians.
The policies and views of politicians, who will be given responsibility for security in the West Bank in the future, will further aggravate the already tense situation on the ground.
Increasing attacks by settlers
Attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank increased and became more brazen and coordinated in 2022.
At least three Palestinians were killed by settlers this year. Some of these attacks took place while the Israeli forces were watching.
“Disturbing evidence that Israeli forces frequently support, assist and participate in settler attacks makes it difficult to differentiate between Israeli settlement violence and state violence,” UN officials said in a statement on December 15.
“2022 is the sixth year in a row in which the number of Israeli settler attacks in the occupied West Bank is increasing annually,” the statement continues. “Armed and masked Israeli settlers attack Palestinians in their homes, attack children on their way to school, destroy property and burn olive groves, and terrorize entire communities with complete impunity.”
Between 600,000 and 750,000 Israeli settlers live in at least 250 illegal settlements scattered across the West Bank and East Jerusalem.