Though the IDF carried out the operation on Saturday morning meant to capture the three terrorists who murdered Rabbi Meir Chai, senior officers praised the work of the official Palestinian Authority security forces, which conducted their own investigation into Thursday night's shooting attack.
Immediately following the drive-by shooting, the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria contacted PA security chiefs in the Jenin, Nablus and Tulkarm areas to update them on the attack and to ask for assistance in capturing the perpetrators.
On Friday, PA forces arrested some 150 suspects, most of whom were released on Saturday after the IDF operation in Nablus, in which the three terrorists were killed.
The intelligence on the identity and location of the three was provided by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), and the IDF had the option to forward the information to the PA and ask it to carry out the arrests on its behalf. In December 2007, the army allowed the PA to arrest two men who shot and killed two off-duty IDF soldiers as they were hiking near Hebron. The two are still being held in a Hebron prison.
"The PA operated well and conducted an investigation focusing on car thieves, which was not such a bad idea," an officer in the Central Command said on Saturday. "Ultimately, though, we decided to carry out the arrest operation since it is our job to provide security for Israelis and these three terrorists killed an Israeli."
The performance of the PA security forces has improved over the past two years with the deployment of US-trained battalions throughout the West Bank. There are currently battalions deployed in Nablus, Jenin, Bethlehem and Hebron.
Last week, a fifth battalion, which had been training for four months in Jordan, returned to the West Bank. Another battalion - consisting of several hundred PA security officers - will leave for training in Jordan in January.