Ahead of Annapolis, IDF warns against visiting Palestinian towns

Warning comes as IDF raises its level of alert for fear that terror groups will try to perpetrate a large-scale attack to derail Israeli-Palestinian talks.

In light of a recent increase in the number of Israelis caught illegally entering Palestinian towns, IDF sources warned Monday that it was just a matter of time before one of the incidents ended in tragedy. Since the beginning of the month, the IDF has noted three cases of Israeli nationals who illegally entered Area A - territory that is under Palestinian control as stipulated under the 1993 Oslo Accords. The IDF Central Command has issued an order forbidding Israelis from traveling to Palestinian territory. In one of the cases, three Israeli-Arabs were arrested by Palestinian police after they illegally entered the village of Beit Ula near Bethlehem. "This is playing with fire," a source in the Central Command said Monday. The warning from the Central Command came as the IDF raised its level of alert ahead of the Annapolis summit next week for fear that the Hamas and Islamic Jihad would try to perpetrate a large-scale terror attack to derail the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. On Monday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that the IDF was preparing in case Hamas or Hizbullah decided to perpetrate an attack ahead of the summit. Defense officials said that there were currently 10 specific warnings concerning Palestinian plans to launch a terror attack ahead of the summit. The warnings are also related to plans by Palestinian terrorists to kidnap an Israeli to be used as a bargaining chip, like Cpl. Gilad Schalit, who was abducted by Hamas over 500 days ago. "These are real threats that need to be taken seriously," the IDF source said, noting that due to good cooperation between the military and the Palestinian security forces, the Israelis who illegally entered West Bank towns and villages were released without incident.