Federal troops left Mekelle, capital of the northern Tigray region, as Tigrayan forces advanced on Monday. Interim administrators appointed by Addis Ababa after its soldiers ousted Tigray’s regional government in November had already departed over the weekend. Crisis Group expert Will Davison says these stunning developments sink the federal narrative that the regional government-turned-insurgency was spent. Instead, the federal intervention in Tigray has suffered a grievous setback if not a defeat. A key question now is whether the Tigrayans will pursue Eritrean units and Amhara fighters still in the region. Everyone’s top priority should be to focus on humanitarian relief to stave off famine in the hardest-hit areas rather than new offensives.
Tensions rose in the West Bank as Palestinians protested prospective Israeli home demolitions and settlement expansion, amid a new round of repression by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA). On Tuesday, bulldozers knocked down a butcher’s shop in Silwan, an East Jerusalem neighbourhood where an Israeli court has issued demolition orders pursuant to a petition from an Israeli settler organisation. The group wants to build a biblical theme park in Silwan, which under international law is illegally occupied Palestinian territory. At least four demonstrating Palestinians were injured when Israeli soldiers fired rubber-coated bullets to disperse them. Residents of the West Bank village of Beita also staged nightly demonstrations against Israeli settler land takeovers. Meanwhile, in several West Bank cities, PA security forces brutally beat Palestinians protesting the death in custody of prominent PA critic Nizar Banat. Crisis Group expert Tahani Mustafa says the confluence of events deepens Palestinians’ sense that they live under a single sovereign power, namely Israel, which outsources some of its policing tasks to the PA. As the April-May escalation showed, this status quo is far from stable.