IDF scaling back West Bank ops ahead of Bush visit

IAF kills terrorist in Gaza City as more Kassams hit Negev.

helicopter kassam 222.88 (photo credit: AP)
helicopter kassam 222.88
(photo credit: AP)
The IDF will reduce its operations throughout the West Bank starting on Wednesday as US President George W. Bush lands in Israel for a three-day visit. The orders were delivered earlier this week to the IDF's Central Command by the political echelon. IDF troops tend to operate in a number of cities in the West Bank every day, arresting terror suspects and searching for weaponry and explosives. According to the new instructions, regional brigades will only be allowed to carry out an arrest raid after receiving authorization from OC Judea and Samaria Division Brig.-Gen. Noam Tivon. Sources in the Central Command said the political echelon asked for "industrial quiet" over the next few days and to scale back operations that could run awry and embarrass the visiting American leader. Such an operation took place in January 2007 in Ramallah while Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was sitting down for a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Sharm e-Sheikh. Six Palestinians were killed and 30 were wounded in the daytime operation. According to the new orders, the Central Command was to refrain from raiding West Bank cities over the next three days unless an operation was needed to capture a "ticking bomb" - a terrorist on his way to perpetrate an attack. Instead, the military was asked to maintain a defensive posture along the main roads leading to the Palestinian towns as well as surrounding Israeli settlements. Meanwhile Tuesday, a terrorist was killed by an IAF strike in Gaza City as he was firing mortar shells into Israel, the IDF said. The strike came a day after 70-year-old Shula Katz was killed by a rocket at Moshav Yesha in the western Negev. Also on Tuesday, four Kassam rockets hit the western Negev. Two rockets struck in the Hof Ashkelon region and two in the Eshkol Regional Council area. The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the rocket fire. No one was wounded and no damage was reported.