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Despair Fuels West Bank Protests

The Palestinian protests in the West Bank reflect the desperate social and economic conditions there, writes Ahmad Azem.
Palestinian protesters throw stones towards Israeli forces during clashes at Hawara checkpoint near the West Bank city of Nablus March 2, 2013. The death of a Palestinian prisoner in disputed circumstances in an Israeli jail last week, together with a hunger strike by four other Palestinian inmates, two of whom ended their protest on Wednesday after an agreement on their release was reached with Israel, have touched off violent protests over the past several weeks in the West Bank. REUTERS/Abed Omar Qusini
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It has become a common scene: a group of young people speak face to face or on the phone, coordinating a trip to the area surrounding Ofer prison (near Ramallah) or a demonstration at a checkpoint to confront Israeli soldiers. Videos appear online and are shared on social-networking sites, showing youths hiding from Israeli army vehicles in villages or camps and then showering them with stones or anything they can get their hands on. The soldiers then flee the area.

These videos often have titles such as "See how children from the camp humiliate Zionist soldiers." The fact of the matter is that these confrontations, as well as the ages of the participants, reflect the end of the economic, social and geographic equation that formed the basis of the calm security situation that prevailed in the West Bank for many years. A new equation is now in play.

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