The Palestinian Authority’s instability is one of the main factors contributing to the current wave of unrest, a senior security source said Tuesday, hours before IDF officers and representatives of the PA’s security forces met to try and lower the level of violence in the West Bank.
“When there is a lack of sovereign stability, this ultimately radiates to other places. It finds expression in the [PA] security forces, and how much they can control armed Tanzim operatives, how much they can control the Fatah organization, and internal power struggles,” the source said.
The other catalyst for violence is the Palestinian rhetoric surrounding al-Aksa Mosque in Jerusalem, an issue that “crosses factions among Palestinians. This is a very significant factor in recent terrorist attacks, including stabbings. At the end of the day, this is in the name of al-Aksa,” the source said.
Palestinians clash with police in West Bank and Jerusalem
Violence in Jerusalem is having a domino effect and spurring violence in Judea and Samaria, according to the source. “At the moment, Jerusalem is the core, and it is radiating outwards,” he said.
As a result of these events, the standing of the PA ’s security forces among the Palestinian public has become eroded, according to the source. This development has not led to any dramatic drop in their capabilities, but is contributing to the current instability, he said.
PA security forces are reluctant to enter some neighborhoods that are controlled by Tanzim operatives, the source said.
The Palestinian public looks at the PA security forces’ efforts to block violence, and sees this in a negative light, due to the rhetoric of al-Aksa being in “danger” from Israel.
According to the source, the next big challenge to security in the West Bank is the upcoming harvest season, when friction between settlers and Palestinians increases every year.
Hamas, for its part, “constantly tries to heat up the situation on the ground, and to orchestrate terrorist attacks,” he said. However, Hamas’s infrastructure in the West Bank is insufficiently developed to pull off many significant attacks, he added.
The Hamas cell from Nablus that carried out the shooting attack that killed the Henkin couple October 1 was hierarchical, but security forces have found no sign of external involvement from Hamas in Gaza or Turkey.
Hamas has shifted its tactics in the West Bank from trying to directly oversee all aspects of its terrorist cells there to quietly setting up a cell that is compartmentalized and not directly linked to the military wing.
“This is one of the big challenges with Hamas,” the source said.
The Duma arson attack, in which suspected far-right terrorists set fire to a Palestinian home, murdering a toddler and both of his parents, remains “the background” to a number of Palestinian terrorist attacks, the source said. “We asked a number of the people [in custody for attacks on Israelis] what the background was, and some of them said ‘Duma,’” he said.
Also Tuesday night clashes broke out in Jaffa when protesters began to rally on Yefet Street near the entrance to the city in “solidarity with protests on behalf of the al-Aksa Mosque”, according to Tel Aviv police.
During the clashes, three police were lightly hurt by stone throwers, and two rioters were arrested for assaulting police.
By 10pm the protests were mainly centered outside a local eatery in Jaffa, after protesters had been blocking off main roadways for over an hour.
Meanwhile, an initial IDF investigation has determined that a 12-yearold Palestinian boy who was shot and killed during a violent clash with the IDF in Bethlehem on Monday was accidentally struck by a sniper round aimed at the legs of an adult rioter.
According to a senior IDF source, at the time of the incident, “a very violent disturbance had occurred at Rachel’s Tomb” and IDF snipers fired to disperse Palestinians who had been hurling rocks, firebombs, and explosive devices.
“The decision to fire on a central instigator in the riot was correct,” the source said, but the bullet missed its target and ricocheted off the ground into the boy’s chest, striking and killing him.
A Bethlehem hospital said Monday that Abdel-Rahman Abeidallah, 12, died of a bullet wound to the heart sustained during a clash with the IDF near Bethlehem. Abeidallah was a resident of the nearby al-Aidah refugee camp.
Rachel’s Tomb was again the scene of rioting on Tuesday, when some 300 Palestinians hurled rocks, firebombs, and three explosive devices at the IDF.
Soldiers responded with non-lethal crowd control measures. There were no injuries.
Clashes continued Tuesday, though in smaller numbers compared to previous days.
On Tuesday evening, some 150 Palestinians launched a violent disturbance at Ayosh Square in Ramallah.
They hurled firebombs, rocks and burning tires, and the IDF and Border Police responded by firing sniper rounds, stun grenades, and rubber bullets.
“Nine main instigators were struck in the legs,” an army spokeswoman said.
Clashes also occurred in Hebron, Al-Furar, and Helkat Kalev.
In Kalandiya, some 100 Palestinians hurled rocks and firebombs at soldiers, who responded with non-lethal riot dispersal means and sniper rounds fired at rioters’ legs. A border policeman was lightly wounded.
On Sunday, a Border Police officer was lightly hurt by shrapnel in one of his legs when a pipe bomb was thrown at officers stationed at Rachel’s Tomb.
He was treated at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem and released later in the day.
Shortly before the attack, a number of rioters had descended upon the area to throw stones at soldiers and worshipers, Border Police said.
On Sunday night, a Palestinian rioter was shot and killed during a violent clash with the IDF in Tulkarm.
According to an army spokeswoman, before the shooting, some 100 to 200 Palestinians affiliated with Hamas threw rocks and firebombs at soldiers near the Tulkarm crossing.Ben Hartman and Reuters contributed to this report.
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