vrijdag 10 oktober 2008

IDF draagt taken over aan Palestijnse troepen in Hebron

Het is een goede zaak dat Israel de PA toestemming geeft om zelf actief tegen Hamas op te treden, maar ik kan me ook wel iets bij de bezwaren voorstellen - een deel van de leden van de veiligheidsdiensten hebben zelf in het verleden bij de Al Aqsa Martelaren Brigades en dergelijke groepen gezeten en aanslagen tegen Israel beraamd. De PA had een amnesty regeling voor deze leden van gewapende groepen. Sowieso staan veel Palestijnen achter het 'verzet', en zijn zij niet erg gemotiveerd om aanvallen tegen kolonisten of ook binnen Israel te verijdelen. Bovendien heeft in 2000 juist de PA en de Palestijnse politie zich ook tegen Israel gekeerd.

IDF finalizes new PA troop deployment in Hebron
The Jerusalem Post
Oct 7, 2008 23:47 | Updated Oct 8, 2008 13:34

Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the head of the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria, will meet next week with his Palestinian counterpart to discuss a request to move up the planned deployment of a company of PA soldiers in Hebron.

The move, first reported in The Jerusalem Post three weeks ago, has drawn the ire of settlers from Gush Etzion and the South Hebron Hills, who held an emergency meeting Tuesday morning to discuss the "irresponsible and dangerous" move.

South Hebron Hills Regional Council head Tzvika Bar-Hai told the Post that Palestinians from Hebron had long been involved in terrorist attacks throughout Israel and that this new plan would only further endanger Israeli lives. "The writing is on the wall," he said.

On Tuesday morning, Bar-Hai hastily called a meeting of local leaders, activists and rabbis in his office so that they could organize to combat the plan. In the next few days they plan to lobby politicians against the initiative and they have asked for a meeting with Defense Minister Barak.

The settlers also issued a press statement signed by a wide range of settler leaders from Efrat Chief Rabbi Shlomo Riskin to far-right activist Baruch Marzel of Hebron.

The decision to permit the deployment - there are already more than 2,000 Palestinian Authority soldiers and policemen in Hebron - was made last month by OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Gadi Shamni as part of an Israeli effort to bolster PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas is scheduled to finish his term as president on January 9, and in the absence of new elections - due to the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip - Abbas, according to the PA constitution, will be replaced by the speaker of the PA parliament, Abdel Aziz Dweik, a senior Hamas official currently in an Israeli prison.

Abbas, however, is looking for ways to extend his term. The IDF and the PA are concerned that Abbas's refusal to hand over the reins could set off clashes in the West Bank between Fatah and Hamas.

As a result, the IDF has agreed to allow a platoon of close to 200 Palestinian soldiers to deploy in Hebron, to be used by the PA to crack down on Hamas operatives and infrastructure in the city.

In a letter sent to Barak on Tuesday, the settler leadership in Hebron slammed the initiative, warning of a rise in terrorism if more PA soldiers are allowed into the city.

"Transferring security over Hebron to the Fatah terrorists will endanger the lives of the thousands who live here and the hundreds of thousands of Jews who regularly come to the city's holy sites," the leaders wrote to Barak.

Initially, the soldiers were planned to deploy in Hebron after completing their US-backed training in Jordan in late December.

A defense official said on Tuesday, however, that the Palestinians had now asked to transfer troops from other parts of the West Bank to Hebron as soon as possible, i.e. later this month. A final decision is expected following the meeting next week between Mordechai and PA Civil Affairs Minister Hussein a-Sheikh.

Defense Ministry officials initially opposed the deployment in Hebron, out of fear that the presence of armed PA soldiers would escalate tensions with the Jewish community in the city. Palestinian assurances that the soldiers would not patrol near the Jewish neighborhoods paved the way for Shamni's approval.

The request to deploy soldiers in Hebron was made by PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad and is based on the "Jenin model," under which Palestinian troops deployed in large numbers there earlier this year and the IDF scaled back its operations in the vicinity.

In addition, Israel eased travel restrictions in northern Samaria and has started allowing Israeli Arabs to visit Jenin in an effort to rehabilitate its weakened economy.

Nevertheless, IDF troops operated in Jenin early Wednesday morning and discovered six pipe bombs and a 13-cm. knife. Shots were fired at the troops during the raid but no one was wounded.

Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.

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