situation report

Aug 8, 2019 | 15:49 GMT

2 mins read

Israel, Palestinian Territories: Killing of Off-Duty Soldier Fuels Calls for Annexation

What Happened: A 19-year-old Israeli soldier was killed while off duty near the Migdal Oz settlement in the West Bank, The Times of Israel reported Aug. 8. Israel said it is treating the attack as an act of terrorism, though no Palestinian group has claimed responsibility. In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he wanted to "deepen our roots in our homeland, in all parts of it," implying that he would continue to push for annexation in the face of recurrent terrorism threats. 

Why It Matters: The killing of a soldier in an apparent off-duty attack will heighten the tensions among Israel's political parties about how to establish security in the West Bank ahead of the country's Sept. 17 election. Israel's retaliation for the killing may also spark unrest within the West Bank, further fueling annexation calls and increasing tensions between Israel and militant groups in Gaza. As the Israel Defense Forces deploy more troops and launch additional raids in the region, those actions will likely spur additional clashes and protests in the short term as well. 

Background: The Migdal Oz settlement is south of Jerusalem along the vital Hebron-Jerusalem corridor, and calls to annex it or other areas like it would substantially undercut a viable Palestinian state. Israel's opposition has continuously criticized Netanyahu's security policies, with Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz saying he would consider an invasion of Gaza over continuing Netanyahu's policies on agreements with Hamas. 

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