Yaakov Katz
The Jerusalem Post
July 10, 2009 - 12:00am

The IDF is considering allowing the Palestinians to establish a specially trained counterterror squad qualified to carry out pinpoint operations against Hamas terrorist cells in the West Bank, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

Such a force would be able to carry out special operations against Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist infrastructure in the West Bank more effectively than could existing Palestinian security forces. The French have already offered to train such a team.

The decision to consider the establishment of such a team was made following the Palestinian Authority's operation against a Hamas cell in Kalkilya last month, during which five Hamas terrorists and four members of the US-trained Palestinian security force were killed.

The four Palestinian battalions trained by the United States in Jordan and already deployed in the West Bank were taught how to enforce law and order and conduct regular police-like operations, but were not given military training. Their equipment consists of pistols and Kalashnikov rifles, and the content of their training is approved by Israel.

The IDF is therefore considering allowing the establishment of a small, elite Palestinian squad that would be capable of conducting operations like the one in Kalkilya more effectively and with fewer casualties.

The army recently vetoed a PA request to receive explosives training. The Palestinians also asked Israel for permission to set up an advanced military communication system. This too was denied by the army, due to concern that the Palestinian system would interfere with IDF communications.

While the IDF Central Command, under the direction of Maj.-Gen. Gadi Shamni, has succeeded in dramatically reducing the level of terrorist activity in the West Bank, a top officer warned on Thursday that the army fears that Hizbullah will activate terrorist cells and have them attack Israel.•


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