Security officials warn against annexation

Officials warn annexation could trigger violence in West Bank and Gaza Strip that the IDF is not yet prepared for.

Palestinian demonstrators protest by the separation barrier, with Modiin Illit in the background. February 7, 2020 (photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)
Palestinian demonstrators protest by the separation barrier, with Modiin Illit in the background. February 7, 2020
(photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s July 1 target date for annexing portions of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley does not leave enough time for the security establishment to prepare for an escalation of Palestinian violence, defense officials have warned.
It would not be possible to apply sovereignty by July since “significant preparations are needed” to prepare for a security deterioration in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, according to senior defense officials quoted by Walla News.
They cited riots that took place after metal detectors were placed on the Temple Mount in 2017 and months of violence that followed the move of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The IDF is not satisfied with Central Command’s current level of preparation, and terrorist attacks by lone wolfs and organized groups could take place, according to the report.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi is said to be preparing a combat procedure prior to the final announcement by Netanyahu and has also looked at various steps to reinforce battalions should the situation deteriorate.
If the government implements its plan to unilaterally annex portions of the West Bank and Jordan Valley, there will be a wave of violence, Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Maj.-Gen. Kamil Abu-Rukun told Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Kochavi Tuesday morning.
Annexation could lead to a “shattering of security coordination and a wave of violence and terrorist attacks,” he told Army Radio. Palestinians could cancel all aspects of security coordination, and Palestinian Authority security officers might turn their weapons on Israel, he said.
In response to the warning, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said it “would not comment on what is discussed in closed security discussions.”
The warnings come amid rising tensions in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with the resumption of incendiary balloons from the Hamas-run coastal enclave toward southern Israel and several attacks carried out by Palestinians against soldiers in the West Bank.
Last week, PA President Mahmoud Abbas said the PA had been absolved of all security agreements and understandings between Israel and the PLO, in addition to agreements with the US.
Abbas has made similar statements several times in the past, and Israeli security officials have confirmed he was making good on his threat to a certain extent.
While the PA has severed ties with Israel, it also has relayed messages to Israel, saying it would prevent widespread chaos and not allow for violence against Israelis, Israeli media outlets have reported.
Nevertheless, there has been a marked uptick in violence against soldiers in the West Bank perpetrated by lone Palestinian attackers.
On Monday, two Palestinians were shot by IDF forces after allegedly attempting to stab troops. According to the military, the suspects tried to stab soldiers posted outside the Havat Amichai outpost near the West Bank settlement of Shiloh. But according to local reports, two herders had been attacked by settlers accompanied by soldiers while they were in their fields with relatives.
Video reportedly from the scene showed Palestinians arguing with soldiers without violence. According to the Palestinian WAFA news agency, the two men were brought to Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah after being injured, one in the stomach and the other in the leg. No soldiers were hurt.
Later on Monday, a Palestinian was shot after attempting to stab an Israeli police officer near Jerusalem’s Jebl Mukaber neighborhood.
On May 14, a soldier was seriously wounded after a Palestinian drove into him at high speed outside the West Bank settlement of Negohot. According to the IDF, the driver accelerated toward troops standing next to an observation post outside the settlement in the Har Hebron Regional Council. The soldier lost his leg in the attack.
The attack came days after 21-year-old St.-Sgt. Amit Ben Yigal was killed during an arrest raid in the Palestinian village of Yabed when a large rock was thrown at his head. The next morning, a 15-year-old Palestinian, Zaid Fadl Al-Qaysieh, was shot dead during clashes with soldiers in al-Fawar refugee camp.
On Memorial Day, a 20-year-old Palestinian stabbed an elderly woman in Kfar Saba. A month earlier, a Palestinian drove his car into a military checkpoint near Jenin.
A week earlier, a Border Police officer was moderately wounded in a combined vehicular ramming and stabbing attack at the Kiosk checkpoint in Abu Dis. The attacker was caught on camera ramming his truck into the officer before exiting the vehicle armed with scissors and stabbing him. He was shot and killed.
In early May, a Palestinian was shot after he jumped out of a truck at the Kalandiya crossing and attempted to stab an Israeli security officer, who was not harmed. The suspect was hospitalized.
In the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, at least three groups of incendiary and explosive balloons were launched by the Ahfad al-Nasser group toward southern Israel. It warned that Israel had 72 hours to send medical supplies for the coronavirus outbreak into Gaza, or they would make the Gaza border communities “hell.”
Attacks by incendiary balloon have become more sporadic in recent months, with the previous one taking place in late April and before that in February.
Also on Tuesday, Gantz visited Southern Command, accompanied by Kochavi, OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Herzi Halevy and OC Gaza Division Brig.-Gen. Eliezer Toledano.
It was the first field visit by the former chief of staff. He focused on the challenges in the area regarding security and civilians. Gantz, who toured the area with paratroopers, also met with the heads of the communities around the Gaza border area in Sderot.
A siren warning of an incoming rocket was activated in several communities bordering the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning. It was a false alarm, the IDF said.