IDF: Jenin forces not fighting terror

Large bomb detonates next to troops in West Bank city by new advanced detonation system; none hurt.

PA police weapons 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
PA police weapons 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
As US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Jerusalem on Sunday, top Israeli defense officials and IDF officers slammed two American-backed initiatives to deploy additional Palestinian forces in the West Bank, saying they are allowing terrorism to flourish. According to the defense officials, since 600 Palestinian Authority soldiers, who were trained by US defense contractors in Jordan, were allowed to deploy in Jenin last month, there has been an increase in terrorist activity in the city. On Sunday morning, a 20-kg. bomb detonated next to an IDF force in Jenin without causing any casualties. Sources in the Central Command said the large bomb was detonated by an advanced wireless detonator. "The PA forces in the city are not combating the terrorists," one source said. "They are taking action to enforce law and order - arresting rapists and thieves - but they are doing nothing about terrorism, which has grown in the past month since they deployed in Jenin." Israel gave its consent for the May deployment of PA soldiers back in March, ahead of a meeting between Barak, Rice and PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad. Barak approved the deployment as part of efforts to bolster Fayad and PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Terror suspects arrested by the PA forces were usually released in a few days or just hours later, another defense official said. "There is a revolving door in Jenin. There is not an effective judicial system in the city." Weapons provided by the US to the PA are finding their way to Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists in Jenin as well as in Nablus, where 3,000 PA policemen and soldiers have been deployed over the past year, a top officer in the Central Command said. In addition, defense officials said terrorists have infiltrated the ranks of the PA police and military. The training of the forces now in Jenin and Nablus was overseen by Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton, the US security coordinator to Israel and the PA who is also regularly monitoring the progress in the two cities. A Dayton aide noted Sunday there had been media reports suggesting that the PA forces in Jenin were effective. This claim was dismissed by officers in the IDF Central Command. The IDF officers said they favored easing restrictions on Palestinians in the West Bank and that some checkpoints were lifted recently without any connection to pressure from Rice and the US. On Friday, the Central Command removed 10 dirt roadblocks, bringing the number removed since March to 80. "There is no doubt that the moment the IDF leaves this territory the Palestinians will have a rocket capability in the West Bank," a top Central Command officer said, adding that the removal of roadblocks and checkpoints was the cause of major changes in the deployment of IDF forces in the area. Terrorist organizations in Nablus, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, were cooperating, in their attempts to perpetrate terror attacks against Israel, the Central Command officer said. Hamas, he added, had built a tunnel system in the city's Casbah that it used to hide and manufacture weapons. During an IDF operation earlier this year, several rockets under development were discovered.