PA­tocur­bHa­maswith 700po­li­ceinHe­bron

The Jewish Chronicle - - World News - BY YAAKOV KATZ JERUSALEM

IDF OF­FI­CERS met their Pales­tinian coun­ter­parts this week to co-or­di­nate the ar­rival of 700 Pales­tinian po­lice­men in He­bron in an ef­fort to crack down on Ha­mas be­fore Mah­moud Ab­bas’s pres­i­den­tial term ends in Jan­uary.

The 700 re­cently com­pleted USbacked mil­i­tary train­ing in Jor­dan and were due to be sent to the Pales­tinian sec­tion of He­bron, one of the largest and most volatile cities in the West Bank.

Last week, Pales­tinian se­cu­rity forces dis­cov­ered a 150-me­tre-long tun­nel in the city that con­tained sev­eral hun­dred kilo­grams of ma­te­ri­als that could be used to make ex­plo­sives. The IDF de­stroyed the tun­nel.

The de­ci­sion to per­mit the new de­ploy­ment was made by De­fence Min­is­ter Ehud Barak in an ef­fort to bol­ster Mr Ab­bas, whose rule is likely to be chal­lenged by Ha­mas when his pres­i­den­tial term ends.

He­bron has a large Ha­mas pres­ence and the Pales­tinian Au­thor­ity, as well as the IDF, are con­cerned that it may try to vi­o­lently take over the West Bank as it did the Gaza Strip in 2007.

The IDF and the PA are also dis­cussing de­ploy­ments in Nablus, Tulkarm and Kalk­ilya, mod­elled on the cur­rent ar­range­ment in Jenin where the Pales­tini­ans have beefed up their forces. The IDF has also scaled back its pres­ence, lifted road­blocks and is work­ing to im­prove the eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion in the city. Quar­tet En­voy Tony Blair is spear­head­ing the ini­tia­tive.

“The Pales­tini­ans need to take con­trol of their own cities,” a se­nior de­fence of­fi­cial said this week. “By per­mit­ting the de­ploy­ment of more forces in the cities they will have the chance to re­store or­der and crack down on ter­ror groups.”

Set­tler leaders have protested against the ar­rival of the Pales­tinian po­lice­men in He­bron, call­ing it a “danger­ous and ir­re­spon­si­ble move”.

Mr Barak and his deputy Matan Vil­nai rec­om­mended that Is­rael ex­tend the cease­fire with Ha­mas for an­other six months.

The truce went into ef­fect in June and will ex­pire in De­cem­ber.

How­ever, se­cu­rity of­fi­cials warned that Ha­mas might be plan­ning to re­new Kas­sam rocket at­tacks against the west­ern Negev.

Un­wel­come: Pales­tinian po­lice face a hos­tile re­cep­tion in He­bron

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