As the cease-fire in the Gaza Strip entered its second day on Monday, sources in the Central Command warned of the consequences of extending the truce to the West Bank, claiming it would lead to an escalation in anti-Israel terror activity. According to defense officials, the only way to curb terrorism in the West Bank is to maintain an around-the-clock presence in the territory. "The moment we walk away terror will flourish," warned one senior official.
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Despite the cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, the Central Command continued with business as usual on Monday and raided the Palestinian town of Kabatiya, south of Jenin, killing one Palestinian gunman associated with the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) as well as a 50-year-old woman.
Palestinian terror factions, connecting the events in Gaza to those in the West Bank, threatened revenge and to cancel the cease-fire as a result of the raid. Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh also claimed that Gaza and the West Bank were connected and called on Israel to stop its operations in the West Bank.
"The Palestinians are one people, and a distinction can't be drawn between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip," he said.
The IDF agreed and said it knows that additional bloodshed in the West Bank could lead the terror factions to call off the cease-fire and return to firing Kassam rockets at the western Negev. Therefore, while the IDF is continuing to conduct arrest raids inside Palestinian towns, the military is, as one officer said Monday, "operating with more sensitivity" due to the fragile situation.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's proposal to ease restrictions on the Palestinians in the West Bank was also no surprise, as the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen. Yosef Mishlav has been recommending such action for months. He claimed that a removal of roadblocks and free passage between cities could stimulate positive economic developments within Palestinian-controlled cities in the West Bank.
The Palestinians have a 30,000-strong military force in the West Bank that is capable of taking up arms and enforcing law and order. Unlike in Gaza, where Hamas is the largest movement and in the process of building up an army, in the West Bank, Fatah is the more powerful movement and controls most of the Palestinian security apparatuses.
If the Palestinian terror factions initiate a cease-fire in the West Bank, one security official predicted that in the end, Israel would have no choice but to follow suit.
"If there will be a real cease-fire it is likely that the IDF will remove roadblocks and ease restrictions to help the economy grow," the official said.