The Other Palestinian Eruption of Violence

The body of Palestinian Mohammed Omar Daraghmeh is brought to the hospital in Tubas city in the West Bank on April 12.
Nedal Eshtayah/Anadolu via Getty Images

The Other Palestinian Eruption of Violence

It’s just waiting to happen.

After a brief shootout in the dead of night on April 12, a Hamas commander known as “the Rock” is finally dead. Mohammed Omar Daraghmeh, notorious leader of Hamas’s military wing, opened fire from his car on an Israeli raid heading for a different target. The Israel Defense Forces fired back, ending a life they have been tracking for years.

This may sound like an episode from Israel’s war in Gaza. But it took place in the community of Tubas in the West Bank. With Gaza consuming so much attention, news of terrorist activity in the West Bank hasn’t circulated much. But don’t assume everything is calm. Hamas may be backpedaling in Gaza, but terrorist groups are gaining ground in the West Bank. It is only a matter of time before the area ruptures into an even bigger crisis than Gaza is today.

The Palestinian Authority (PA), the Arab government controlling much of the West Bank under President Mahmoud Abbas, is no friend of Israel. (The complicity of Abbas’s Fatah faction in the Oct. 7, 2023, massacre is a case in point.) But Abbas arguably receives even less respect from the Palestinian people than he does Israel. Many communities in the West Bank, under his jurisdiction in theory, are more under the sway of Hamas and other rival terror groups. Protests—sometimes violent—against his rule are commonplace. Abbas can’t stay in power without Israel’s help. And as hostile as Abbas is, Israel is terrified of who his replacement could be, so it plays along with financial assistance and security cooperation. But this lifeline—plus his refusal to step down since 2005—makes Abbas look even more like a corrupt stooge of Israel’s “occupation.”

If one wants to resist both Israel and the Palestinian Authority, where does one go? Fatah’s rival: Hamas.

Since October 7, Hamas’s popularity has risen. The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research published two polls, one on December 23 and one on March 24, each sampling over 1,000 people, the majority of whom were West Bank residents. In December, 57 percent of respondents said the October 7 attack was justified. The March poll saw that number climb to 71 percent.

Many are acting on their views and joining Hamas. In a February cbs article, a Hamas recruiter interviewed in the West Bank was asked if October 7 provided a recruitment boom. “For sure,” he said with a smile. “All the Palestinian people are standing by Hamas.” He did not provide any figures.

Hamas is acquiring people, but where is it getting weapons? The answer is Iran. Iran has smuggling routes and more than enough willing partners throughout Iraq, Jordan, Syria and elsewhere to bring weapons to the West Bank.

In April 2023, Hossein Salami, leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, claimed Iran’s “invisible hands have armed the West Bank, and you [now] see modern automatic rifles and automatic weapons in the hands of the Palestinians.” The New York Times shed light on some of the details in an April 9 article. According to Israeli and American officials, Iran has smuggled such destructive weapons as anti-tank missiles and rocket-propelled grenades into the West Bank. Many experts say Iran is converting the West Bank into the next front against Israel.

This is making the PA edgy. Fatah released a statement on April 3 accusing Iran of destabilizing the West Bank. “This external interference, particularly by Iran, has no other objective than to sow chaos in the Palestinian internal arena, which will only benefit the Israeli occupation and the enemies of our people,” the statement read. “We will not allow our sacred cause and the blood of our people to be exploited for suspicious plots that have nothing to do with them.”

The statement followed clashes between PA security forces and the Tulkarm Brigade in the West Bank’s north. The Tulkarm Brigade is a militia affiliated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Iran sponsors both Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Both have a sizable presence in the West Bank. Even if Iran doesn’t have outright control over the area like it did in Gaza, the West Bank’s porous border with Jordan makes it an easier target for Iran.

The West Bank has a larger population than Gaza did pre-October 7. Israel has populous settler communities established in the region’s heart. The West Bank directly borders Jerusalem. October 7 was horrific, but Iran has an exponentially higher capacity to do damage from the West Bank based on geography alone.

What does this mean for Israel? If Iran were to launch an October 7-style attack from the West Bank, it would be far more catastrophic than Gaza ever was.

The Trumpet expects some kind of jihadist insurgency in the West Bank because of a prophecy in Zechariah 14. Verse 1 refers to “the day of the Lord,” a time period just before the return of the Messiah. Verse 2 details what will lead up to it: “For I [God] will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.”

“The first half of the verse is about a great climactic battle that will occur at Christ’s return,” Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry writes in Jerusalem in Prophecy. “[A]t the time of this final battle, the whole of Jerusalem will have been captured …. The question is, why does the last half of Zechariah 14:2 say that only half the city will be taken?”

He continues:

Consider it: The Day of the Lord and the dispute over one half of Jerusalem are presented in the same context. That is because when half of Jerusalem goes into captivity, that crisis triggers a series of events that leads to the return of Jesus Christ! One half of Jerusalem being taken captive is like the first domino to fall leading to Christ’s return and battle against all nations in Jerusalem! It all begins and ends in Jerusalem.

The West Bank Palestinians today want half of Jerusalem—the historically and spiritually important part that Israel would never give up—as their capital. Bible prophecy says they are going to get half of Jerusalem—by force. This likely won’t happen at the hands of Fatah. Abbas is dependent on Israel to keep his grip on power. Hamas, on the other hand, is undermining Fatah’s rule. It has access to a powerful paymaster: Iran. And October 7 showed the world it is not afraid to get its hands dirty to hurt Israel.

This makes the latest news concerning. But as this prophecy shows, it leads to the return of Jesus Christ—the best news man could receive. This is the perspective needed as Middle East conditions continue to deteriorate.

To learn more, request a free copy of Jerusalem in Prophecy.