IDF cuts contact with PA forces

IDF will no longer distinguish between PA security personnel and terrorists.

halevy couple 298.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
halevy couple 298.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The IDF ordered its field officers Friday night to cease all contact with their counterparts in the Palestinian Authority security forces. According to Israel Radio a senior army official said that the IDF would no longer distinguish between PA security personnel and terrorists since the security forces' Hamas superiors support terror attacks. At a Friday security assessment following Thursday's suicide bombing in which four Israelis were killed near the West Bank community of Kedumim, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said that Hamas was responsible for the attack. "A government that engraves on its flag the idea of continuing terror and does not order the security forces it is responsible for to fight terror is accountable for this attack and every other attack that will come out of the Palestinian territories," Mofaz said. "Israel will not allow such attacks and will respond strongly." Mofaz ordered the IDF and the Shin Bet to intensify their operations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in an effort to crack down on terror infrastructure there. Heightened precautions include more stringent monitoring of Palestinians passing through checkpoints. Additionally, all Palestinians between the ages of 16-32 were to be banned from passing southward from northern Samaria. There were to be no travel restrictions on women. The checkpoint between Nablus and the Jordan Valley was also closed to Palestinian traffic. Earlier in the morning, the IDF arrested the brother of the suicide bomber who committed the attack. The man was apprehended southeast of Hebron and was detained by security services for interrogation. Also Friday, soldiers also arrested a Palestinian fugitive close to Nablus who was suspected of involvement in the terror attack. The suicide bombing occured when the attacker blew himself up inside an Israeli car near a gas station at the entrance to the northern West Bank settlement. Two of the four Israelis killed included an elderly couple - Rafi and Helena Halevy - who lived in the settlement for 20 years. Their funeral was scheduled to be held in Kedumim on Sunday. They are survivied by their four children, one of whom is a Lieutenant Colonel in the IDF. Another victim was Reut Feldman, a 20-year-old youth from Herzliya who volunteered for national service in Kedumim. Her funeral was held in Herzliya on Friday afternoon. Israel Radio reported that Feldman was on her way from a course in Ra'anana back to Kedumim to work a night shift in the West Bank town, when she was killed by the suicide bomber. Feldman's aunt revealed that Reut's mother objected to the youth's request to extend her national service by an additional year, for fear of terrorist attacks. Reut's friends told Israel Radio that several months ago she brought her family great pride when she identified a terrorist on his way to perform an attack on Kedumim. The fourth victim was 16-year-old Shaked Laskar, a Kedumim resident. His funeral ceremony took place in the settlement on Friday afternoon. The IDF said it appeared that Israelis traveling in the car apparently picked up a Palestinian wearing an explosive belt, dressed as a haredi hitchhiker. A Kedumim official said that there was no way that the passengers could have known the man was a terrorist. The car, which was utterly burned in the explosion, had yellow plates and was not reported stolen, leading security officials to believe that the Israelis had mistakenly picked up a Palestinian suicide bomber, believing that he was a Jewish Israeli. Parts of the vehicle flew as far as 60 meters from the site of the explosion. The suicide bomber was identified as 24-year-old Ahmad Mashrake. He was released from a Palestinian prison less than one month ago. The Aksa Martyrs' Brigades took responsibility for the attack. A spokesman for the terrorist group said that Israel should prepare a large amount of body bags for the terrorist attacks that his organization planned to execute if Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert continued with his plans. He warned that the Aksa Brigades could reach any point in Israel, and that they had a lot of potential suicide bombers on call, ready to attack. Speaking to The Jerusalem Post shortly after the bombing, Weiss blamed Olmert's convergence plan for the terror attack. "Olmert's delusional plan to give away land has motivated the Palestinians to try and push us out of our homes through acts of terror. They and Olmert will not succeed," she said. Council of Judea, Samaria and Gaza (Yesha) Chairman Benzi Lieberman urged Olmert to abandon his West Bank withdrawal plan and focus on ensuring the security of Israel's citizens. "This painful terror attack makes it very clear that Olmert needs to establish a government that will fight terror in Samaria and Gaza and will not just give in to the Palestinian demands and withdraw from the West Bank," a Yesha spokesman said.