Defense Ministry shuts down crossing near Jenin after finding pipe bomb

IDF clamps down on Palestinian incitement, shuts Fatah-affiliated Hebron radio station.

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November 3, 2015 10:23
3 minute read.
Attempted terror attack at Gilboa crossing, near Afula - Oct. 31, 2015

Attempted terror attack at Gilboa crossing, near Afula - Oct. 31, 2015. (photo credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)

 
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The Defense Ministry shut down the Gilboa Crossing north of the West Bank city of Jenin on Tuesday after soldiers IDF arrested a Palestinian man there with a bomb and a knife in his possession.

The suspect was arrested on the Palestinian side of the crossing, and confessed to soldiers that he was planning an attack, an army spokeswoman said.

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Security forces took the suspect for questioning. There were no injuries.

The crossing, which has been the site of several incidents over the past two weeks including three attempted stabbing attacks, is one of the largest and most important between Israel and the West Bank, with thousands of Palestinian workers passing through daily on their way to jobs in Israel, as well as hundreds of Israeli and Palestinian trucks and thousands of Israeli-Arab motorists, including for shopping trips and trade in Jenin.

The decision to close the crossing, which is run by the Defense Ministry’s Overland Crossings Authority, was taken following “instructions by defense officials,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that it will remain closed “until further notice.”

“Attempts to carry out terrorist attacks... lead first and foremost to damage to the Palestinian economy,” the ministry said.

The incident was the only terrorism event in the country Tuesday, after a series of some 60 attacks over the last five weeks in which Palestinian terrorists have killed 11 people with knives and guns and wounded more than 100.

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“At the moment, we are fighting against a wave of terrorism. First it was missiles, and now it is knives,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “We overcame the former wave; we will also overcome this one. This requires much patience. We have increased our forces and are investing in various means.

“While we do not shrink away from the steps necessary to defeat this terrorism, we know that in the end we rely on willpower, the iron willpower of our people who have been here over the past 100 years, which overcomes all obstacles and is developing the country in a way that inspires the world,” Netanyahu said.

Earlier in the day, soldiers in the West Bank city of Hebron shut down a Fatah-affiliated radio station alleged to have broadcast incitement-filled content.

“Al-Hurriya [freedom in English] broadcasts harsh statements filled with incitement against the State of Israel,” the IDF Spokesman said.

“It encourages [Palestinians] to carry out stabbing attacks and it even supports violent processions.”

According to the IDF, there have been 29 terrorist attacks recently in the Hebron area, including 22 knifing attacks in the last month. At least 67 Palestinians have been shot dead by Israeli forces, including 40 armed with knives or other weapons; many were teenagers.

Of the Palestinians killed, 25 were from Hebron, including several shot dead near the crossing.

Hebron, 30 km. south of Jerusalem, is the largest city in the West Bank, with a Palestinian population of some 200,000, among whom live 1,000 Jewish settlers. The city itself is split; most of it under the Palestinian Authority, while a small portion is under Israeli military and civilian control.

When the violence started October 1, most of the attacks were carried out by what Israel described as “lone wolves,” with no sign of coordination by Palestinian political factions, as had been the case with previous uprisings. Many of the attacks were in Jerusalem, with some spilling over into the center of the country.

More recently, however, that has changed, at least when it comes to the stone-throwing demonstrations across the West Bank, as political factions are busing in participants from local universities. Locals said the radio station shut down by Israel had carried messages encouraging people to demonstrate, but added that this was normal and described the station as “liberal.”

“It plays lots of music; it’s everyone’s favorite,” said one individual.

Last month, a Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) representative told the cabinet that senior PA and Fatah officials are involved in the incitement that is fanning the current wave of terrorism.

Reuters and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.

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