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IDF waits to see PA’s treatment of terror suspects
By YAAKOV KATZ
01/11/2010
Military expects reformed Palestinian Authority legal system to charge Hamas operatives, suspected of perpetrating shooting attack.
 
In what some view as a test of the Palestinian Authority’s newly reformed legal system, the IDF is waiting to see what charges the PA brings against the alleged perpetrators of a recent shooting in the West Bank.

Rabbi Moshe and Shira Moreno were wounded on September 8 as they drove near the Rimonim junction, halfway between Ramallah and Jericho and about 15 minutes north of the capital.

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The attack came a day after four Israelis were killed in a drive-by shooting near the Beit Hagai settlement in the South Hebron Hills.

Several days after the Morenos were shot, Palestinian security forces claimed to have arrested two suspects, both Hamas operatives, from Silwad, a Hamas stronghold about 9 km. northwest of the Rimonim junction and the birthplace of the terrorist group’s Damascus-based leader, Khaled Mashaal.

The arrests were carried out by the PA, The Jerusalem Post has learned, after the IDF and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) hit a dead end in their investigation.

“The question now is how the PA will charge the shooters,” one defense official said on Monday. “We would like to see them charged with attempted murder, and this will be a real test of the PA and its reformed legal system.”

In the past, the PA has indicted perpetrators of terrorist attacks against Israel for “harming national interests” but has mostly refrained from pressing serious charges. Two Palestinians who shot and killed two off-duty IDF soldiers near Hebron in 2007 were sentenced by the PA to 15 years in prison after they surrendered because they feared capture by Israel.

According to defense officials, the PA has made significant progress in recent years, particularly with its security forces, which have cracked down on Hamas and other terrorist organizations in the West Bank. This has led to a dramatic drop in IDF operations inside Palestinian cities, the officials said.

In addition, with the assistance of the United States and the European Union, the PA has built up and reformed its prisons service, civilian police force and judicial system. Last week, for example, the PA inaugurated a new court in Ramallah to curb soaring public corruption.
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