Palestinian Territory Country Report
There is an escalating risk of socio-economic protests against the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank. Meanwhile, the risk of a renewed escalation between Hamas and Israel remains high in the one-year outlook as economic stagnation provokes increasing protests in the Gaza Strip. Sporadic rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel will likely continue, prompting retaliatory airstrikes by Israel. There is risk of arrests of Fatah and Hamas personnel in Gaza and the West Bank, respectively. IHS assesses that the current right-wing tilt in the Israeli political establishment raises the risk of settlement-related unrest, both in terms of settler violence as well as retaliatory Palestinian unrest, as well as collective punishment practices such as logistical restrictions targetingspecific villages or areas.
Business activity is severely hindered by Israeli border closures, weak infrastructure, corruption, and complex bureaucracy. The collapse of the unity government in 2007 and the subsequent takeover by Hamas in the Gaza Strip further compounded the situation.
"Price-tag" attacks by Jewish settlers are likely to continue in the West Bank, alongside a risk of isolated knife attacks and shootings at Israel Defense Forces (IDF) checkpoints. A period of attempted political reconciliation between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority is likely to lower the risk of rocket attacks on Israeli settlements into 2018. These risks would be likely to intensify in response to expanded settlement construction or the potential move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. External militant groups, particularly Hizbullah, have the stated intent to launch mass-casualty terrorist attacks inside Israel proper, although this is unlikely to include the occupied territories.
Israeli airstrikes, artillery strikes, and limited ground incursions are likely in response to rockets fired from Gaza, but an escalation into conflict is unlikely while Hamas continues reconciliation with the Palestinian Authority (PA) and has limited external support. War risks are mitigated in the West Bank, where the PA security forces are likely to continue co-operation with the Israeli military. One exception would be a third "intifada" scenario, which would force the security forces to cease co-operation.
Violent protests in Gaza and the West Bank are very likely in response to Israeli military operations or arrest campaigns, or settler attacks, targeting Palestinians. Key triggers are likely to also include Jewish access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the potential move of the US embassy to Jerusalem, and a prolonged economic crisis in Gaza.