Has Israeli defense minister changed IDF’s West Bank strategy?

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Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s plan for Palestinian towns and villages in the West Bank is already being implemented, even before its official launch.

By Shlomi Eldar, al MONITOR

On Aug. 17, Liberman presented a plan to deal with Palestinian terrorism by dividing Palestinian towns and villages into “green” ones whose residents have abstained from terror activity and “red” for those whose residents have engaged in attacks against Israelis. Israel would deal with the “red” ones with an iron fist, whereas the “green” ones would enjoy economic benefits and goodwill gestures.

In recent weeks, according to Palestinians who spoke to Al-Monitor, even before the plan’s official publication, Israel’s military activity in the West Bank has undergone a significant overhaul. Israeli troops conduct almost nightly operations in the refugee camps and in villages and towns whose residents have allegedly attacked Israeli targets. One of the main targets of this activity, according to the Palestinians, is the Dheisheh refugee camp south of Bethlehem. In addition, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) units conduct operations almost every night in Palestinian villages in the Hebron district.

Most of the military activity takes place in the part of the West Bank designated in the Oslo Accord as Area A, which is under the full civilian and military control of the Palestinian Authority (PA). The IDF generally avoids entering the area, other than in emergencies. The reported nightly military activities reflect the new policy adopted by Israeli security forces — a policy that is the exact opposite of the strategy implemented in the past by former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, who believed that any friction with the Palestinian population could increase the motivation of young people to carry out attacks and escalate tensions.

The spokesman for the Palestinian security forces, Col. Adnan al-Damiri, told Al-Monitor that the PA’s policy is to focus only on those harming Palestinian interests and operating against the explicit orders of President Mahmoud Abbas. “Palestinian interests” is a common way to refer to Palestinian security activities without suggesting that these activities constitute cooperation with Israel. It is a way of arguing that the Palestinian efforts to thwart attacks, including the arrests of young Palestinians on intelligence provided by Israel, are only designed to maintain law and order in the territories and protect Palestinians’ own interests.

Damiri also said that given the tensions resulting from the intensive IDF activity, any wrong step, however small, could ignite a spark that could result in loss of control and chaos.

Majid Faraj, the PA’s intelligence chief and a resident of the Dheisheh refugee camp, claimed in January that Palestinian security agencies had foiled some 200 attacks against Israelis since the current wave of terrorism began in October last year. The remarks by Faraj, whose father was shot dead by Israeli troops during the second intifada, drew harsh criticism on the Palestinian street and even threats to place him on a “blacklist” …read more

Source:: Israpundit

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