It’s as if they are living in two different planets. Thousands of Palestinians in Gaza have marched toward the Israeli border each Friday since March 30 to protest their abysmal conditions. Israeli troops have killed at least 40 Palestinians, arguing that the demonstrators pose a security risk. Only about 25 miles away, West Bank residents have largely avoided the mass weekly protests with the Palestinian Authority’s focus on the Palestinian National Council.

In an April 27 New York Times op-ed, a Gaza resident explained his motivation for protesting: “highlighting the unbearable living conditions” and “sending a message to the international community.”  However, charging Israel’s Gaza border complicates the message Palestinians are promoting to the West in their struggle for statehood.  Although Israel controls Gaza’s airspace and sea access as well as its northern and eastern land borders, the evacuation of all settlers and soldiers offers a semblance of independence not present in the West Bank. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is more likely to fear sustained non-violent protests in the West Bank where Israeli soldiers and settlers deepen their 50-year occupation of Palestinian land. Competing with the daily onslaught of news from North Korea and Iran, Palestinians would have a more compelling narrative before the international community launching mass protests toward Israel’s wall that snakes inside the West Bank or targeting military checkpoints that obstruct Palestinian freedom inside their homeland.

It’s easy to understand why Palestinians in the coastal enclave have mobilized. Unemployment in Gaza is at 43 percent. An astonishing 97 percent of Gaza’s drinking water is unfit for human consumption, and the strip suffers from lengthy electricity outages. Israel’s air and naval blockade around Gaza along the severe restrictions in travel – with the help of Egypt — have played a key role in provoking the humanitarian crisis, which the Jewish state contends is necessary to prevent Hamas from acquiring arms.

Although the demonstrators’ motivations are rooted in despair, the long-term goals of the movement remain ambiguous. While the vast majority of protesters are non-violent, a persistent minority have repeatedly charged Israel’s border. Citing Palestinian witnesses, the New York Times reported on April 27 that Gazans threw firebombs at the fence and two men armed with handguns fired at Israeli forces. The European Union condemned on May 4 Palestinian protesters for burning down a border crossing that facilitates the entry of humanitarian goods into Gaza. By utilizing a modest amount of violence, Gazans face the worst of both worlds.

The demonstrators don’t have the capabilities to impose significant military costs against Israel’s more powerful forces. While Hezbollah’s sustained attacks against Israeli forces in southern Lebanon played a critical role in Israel’s 2000 withdrawal from the country, the current Friday protests have no such capacity to inflict massive casualties. If the protests’ aims are military, then it’s a failure. Yet, violence has been enough to provide Israel with some justification, even if widely criticized, for the high Palestinian death toll.

If unable to inflict substantial military damage, then the strategic aim appears to be mobilizing international public opinion to influence foreign governments and impose a diplomatic and economic cost against Israel. But, the branding of the weekly marches doesn’t fit with this goal. Labeled the “Great Return March,” organizers have highlighted the Palestinian aspiration of returning to their homes inside Israel proper. Many Europeans sympathize with Palestinians for the suffering they face due to the Israeli blockade and as refugees and many Western governments back a “just resolution” to the refugee issue pursuant to UN Security Council resolutions. However, such a “just resolution” is unlikely to mean an unlimited right of return to pre-1967 Israel. Yet, the march’s theme was tied to the charged refugee issue instead of the more disputed siege.

With the goal of promoting Israeli forces’ withdrawal from occupied territories, then storming the pre-1967 border appears to be a dubious tactic. What country would not defend its border from persistently violent infiltrations especially following Israel’s extraction of its forces from Gaza in 2005 to the United Nations recognized armistice line?

In fact, Israel more likely fears sustained West Bank protests. The International Court of Justice ruled in 2004 that the separation wall is illegal. Palestinians mass marches against the barrier or Israeli military checkpoints across the West Bank would present Israel with a nearly impossible situation. Unlike in Gaza, Israel maintains a 50-year occupation in the West Bank censured by the majority of the international community. Israeli snipers killing dozens or possibly hundreds of Palestinians marching against Israeli forces in the West Bank would be a public relations nightmare for Netanyahu.

By focusing the protests in the occupied territory, Israeli spokespersons would be forced to argue for the legitimacy of a two-class system in the West Bank: full rights for Israeli settlers with indefinite denial of rights for Palestinians in the same area. Instead of the argument focusing on border security, popular West Bank protests would more likely lead to uncomfortable apartheid comparisons in mainstream Western media outlets. With the vast majority of Western governments labeling Israeli settlements as illegal, non-violent protests at these locations with an aggressive Israeli response could be a trigger that invokes mass outrage in the West, enough to impose a forceful punishment against Israel.

Israel notes that Hamas, a US-designated terrorist organization, plays an active role in the Gaza marches while ruling the territory. Mass demonstrations in the West Bank would free Palestinians from being forced to defend Hamas on the pages of the Guardian. More likely, the face of the protestors would be ordinary Palestinian residents or under the leadership of Fatah, which has recognized Israel and signed the 1993 Oslo Accords.

Yes, mass protests in the West Bank are more difficult to organize because unlike in Gaza, Israel’s military has complete freedom of movement to quash large gatherings. Weekly demonstrations have occurred across the West Bank, albeit at a smaller scale. The protests in Nabi Saleh began in 2010 and led to the widely covered trial of 17-year-old Ahed Tamimi. At the same time, were Palestinians to amass in far higher numbers, hundreds of thousands, at military checkpoints, it could lead to more damaging consequences against Israel than the current Gaza marches.

With Israel’s hawkish government, it seems unlikely that Netanyahu will commit to a viable Palestinian state on his own initiative. By launching the Gaza protests, residents of the besieged enclave have highlighted the unsustainable nature of the conflict, calling out to the international community for assistance. Yet, with an increasingly unsympathetic attitude by some Arab governments toward the Palestinian cause and a crowded news cycle, Palestinians are having a difficult time showcasing their plight before international audiences in contrast to the non-stop coverage during the 2014 Gaza war. While unfair, the weekly Gaza demonstrations are overly complicated to successfully rouse western public opinion. Israel is more likely to dread hundreds of thousands Palestinians marching upon military checkpoints in the occupied West Bank. Instead of Netanyahu addressing the West in English about Iran’s nuclear program, the Israeli leader would be forced to respond to CNN questions about the jailing of Palestinian teenage girls like Ahed Tamimi.