A new study says Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is harming the region’s fragile Arab population and is contributing to the rise of the Islamic State.
The study, published in the academic journal The Jerusalem Times, found that in the period since Israel’s declaration of statehood in the 1967 Middle East war, the number of Arabs in Israel has declined by more than 10%, from about 300,000 to about 190,000, and the percentage of Arabs living in the West bank and Gaza has fallen by about 60%.
It said the phenomenon has been “the main factor” driving the recent rise in the Islamic militant group (IS) group and its affiliates in the Gaza Strip.
The findings are based on information collected by the Israeli intelligence agency and analyzed by researchers from the University of Haifa.
They found that, in the last four years, Israel’s security measures against Palestinians in the territories have contributed to a 50% increase in the number and percentage of Palestinian Arabs in the occupied territories, including in the Hebron and Ramallah areas.
They also noted that the Israeli army has been conducting a “security squeeze” on Palestinians in Gaza, including restricting access to Gaza’s borders and checkpoints.
The researchers said that in recent years, Israeli security measures to curb the flow of people into the West is primarily aimed at deterring Palestinians from entering the Gaza-area border towns, which are under Israeli occupation.
They also noted, however, that in some areas, Israel has implemented some measures aimed at discouraging Palestinians from going to the West to visit relatives and relatives of Palestinian civilians, which may have contributed in some cases to the increase in violence and attacks.
Israel has continued to impose the occupation on the occupied Palestinian territory for almost four decades, but the study says the current escalation in the conflict has been the most serious.
It is a “clear violation of international law,” said the authors of the report, a team of Palestinian researchers led by Prof. Efraim Klimkin, a visiting fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
“The Israeli authorities have a responsibility to take concrete measures to end the violence and stop the deterioration of the situation,” he added.
The authors said the Israeli government should stop imposing the occupation and allow Palestinians to return to their homes, which they consider the natural rights of Palestinians under international law.
“In all of this, Israel and the international community need to be honest, to put a stop to the violence, and to make sure that the international law is applied,” Klimkins said.
The report said the security squeeze was a response to the “unacceptable” increase in attacks against Israelis in the Palestinian territories.
The number of Palestinian civilian deaths in Israel’s military campaign against Hamas in the 2014 Gaza war was a record, and an increase of over 30% in recent months, said the researchers.
They said the “security crisis” has led to a surge in attacks by Palestinians against Israelis, with some targeting their cars and businesses.
In the past three months, the Palestinians have carried out at least 50 attacks against Israeli civilian homes, shops, vehicles and businesses, they said.
In addition, the Israeli authorities continued to use force against the Palestinians in Hebron, a Palestinian city that Israel captured in 1967.
According to the researchers, the rising violence and the Israeli security squeeze have resulted in the emergence of the IS, an umbrella group of militant groups that has been waging an insurgency in the region since 2013.
In addition, IS has seized a large swath of land in the west bank, including the Gaza strip, and is threatening the existence of the Jewish state.
The Israeli military has said the militant group is fighting for an independent Palestinian state.
Klimkin said the study, entitled “The Jewish-Palestinian conflict: The security squeeze and the threat of a new state,” was conducted as part of the research project of a doctoral student at the Israel Institute of Technology, a university affiliated with Tel Aviv University.
The project was funded by the European Union and the United Nations Development Programme.
The authors said they were “deeply concerned” about the “growing threat” posed by IS and other radical Islamist groups in the Middle East and the need to combat them.
Israel, which is currently in the middle of a massive offensive against the Islamic militants in the Sinai Peninsula, has been carrying out air raids and other measures to stem the IS advance in recent weeks, but analysts say it is unlikely that the ground operation will be able to halt IS.