The Palestinian Authority said Thursday it would cease co-ordinating with Israel on security after nine Palestinians were killed during a battle between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank.
Early Friday the Israeli military launched airstrikes on Gaza in response to militant rocket fire from the Palestinian enclave, which is run by the Islamlist Hamas.
The PA and Israel work closely together to fight militants in the West Bank, a policy unpopular among the Palestinian public, according to polls. Israeli security officials say co-ordinating with Ramallah is a key pillar of stability in the area.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has threatened to cut security ties several times during crises with Israel but hasn’t always followed through. The Israeli army declined to comment.
The Israeli army said troops raided the Jenin refugee camp as part of an operation against Palestinian militants who had planned an imminent attack against Israelis. Soldiers killed at least six militants in the resulting battle, the army said, adding reports of additional deaths were being examined.
An uninvolved Palestinian woman — 61-year-old Majda Obeid — was also killed in the fighting after she was shot in the neck while standing by the window of her home, according to Palestinian health officials and two of Ms Obeid’s daughters. The Israeli army is looking into the reports, an Israeli army spokesman said.
Another Palestinian died from wounds sustained during separate clashes with Israeli forces near Jerusalem, raising Thursday’s total death toll to 10, the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry said. The Israeli army referred questions to police, who didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip on Israel’s southern border threatened to retaliate for the killings in the northern West Bank. Around midnight on Thursday, they appeared to follow through with the threats. Two rockets were fired from Gaza, but both were shot down by Israel’s air defence systems, the Israeli military said.
When the Israeli army raids Palestinian areas, its officers often warn their Palestinian counterparts in advance so as to avoid potentially deadly mix-ups. Opponents of the Palestinian Authority say this makes Mr Abbas and his colleagues partially responsible for bloody raids such as the one that took place in Jenin on Thursday.
Tensions across the West Bank have surged since a series of attacks by Palestinians and Arab Israelis — including several from the Jenin area — left 19 dead inside Israel between March and May 2022. The Israeli army responded by launching Operation Wavebreaker, in which the army stepped up its raids into Palestinian areas to break up suspected militant cells.
At least 146 Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces in 2022 in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, the highest toll since 2004, according to the Israeli human-rights group B’Tselem. So far this year, 30 Palestinians have been killed, according to a tally by The Wall Street Journal.
Israeli officials say most of those killed during Operation Wavebreaker were members of militant groups or involved in violence. At least some appear to have been uninvolved civilians, including a teenage girl killed by Israeli fire during a raid in the West Bank city of Jenin in mid-December.
Israel says its West Bank operations are necessary to combat the rising threat from Palestinian militant groups, especially in areas where Mr Abbas’s Palestinian Authority, which has limited self-rule in parts of the occupied territory, has seen its grip weaken in recent months. Palestinian officials say Israeli military operations undermine their control and help fuel a cycle of violence.
The US criticised Mr Abbas’s decision to sever security ties. US officials have worked in the past to talk Mr Abbas down from ending co-ordination with Israel.
“Far from stepping back on security co-ordination, we believe it’s quite important that the parties retain, and if anything, deepen security co-ordination,” US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf said on Thursday night.
The Israeli army said troops entered the refugee camp midmorning on Thursday after receiving intelligence that Palestinians affiliated with the Islamic Jihad militant group were planning an imminent attack. Militants opened fire on troops, who shot three of them dead, the army said.
Israeli soldiers shot and killed another three armed Palestinians while surrounding and storming the building in which the militant cell had holed up, the Israeli military said. No troops were injured in the firefight.
In a statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed “the courage and resourcefulness of the soldiers who prevented attacks that could have cost many lives.”
A spokesman for Mr Abbas called the Jenin incident a massacre and criticised the international community for not pressuring Israel to change its policies toward Palestinians. Hamas, the Islamist militants who rule Gaza, said Israel’s “killing and criminality” wouldn’t stop “the great revolutionary tide.” The Palestinian Authority, which has limited self-government in parts of the West Bank, was created in the 1990s during talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Many Palestinians hoped it would one day become an independent Palestinian state, but the peace process has been stalled since 2014.
Over the past year, some young Palestinians have formed local militias and targeted Israeli soldiers and civilians. The armed groups have become a key challenge for both Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Political analysts say tensions could further escalate under Mr Netanyahu’s new right-wing coalition government, which has vowed to take tougher measures against Palestinians aimed at curbing violence.
Article link: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/the-wall-street-journal/palestinian-authority-says-it-will-end-coordination-with-israel/news-story/e8fb76e7a51a69a595e3c245800c1254
Article source: The Australian / Wall Street Journal | Aaron Boxerman &Fatima Abdul Karim |January 27, 2023