Hanan Greenberg
July 10, 2009 - 12:00am

The ease of restrictions on the Palestinian population in the West Bank and the cooperation with the Palestinian security organizations have led to a cautious satisfaction in the Israel Defense Forces.

"Where roadblocks are not needed – they will be removed," a senior officer told Ynet on Thursday night. "This spares conflicts and moral problems for us too, and the risk we are taking is very calculated."

The officer noted that only 14 important checkpoints remain out of 41 about two years ago. The ease of restrictions, alongside the Palestinian forces' activity, create a new reality in the West Bank, and the number of Palestinian Authority policing brigades is expected to grow next year.

According to the plan presented by the American coordinator, General Keith Dayton, to heads of the defense establishment, six brigades will begin operating in 2010, in addition to the presidential guard force.

Israel views the brigades' activity positively and is closely monitoring their operations, and in the future additional brigades will be trained in Jordan and join the activity. However, requests to supply them with explosive devices and communication abilities have been rejected.

A significant part of the restrictions eased stems from the IDF's high-quality intelligence and freedom of action in the West Bank, as well as from the intensive activity against the various Hamas institutions, which may appear harmless but have given quite a lot of "fuel" to the organization's military wing.

According to the senior officer, the Palestinian brigades are also taking part in this strenuous activity, as well as in maintaining public order.

Hezbollah operating by remote control

Alongside the optimism, the IDF points to a series of gaps which still exist among the Palestinians. The senior officer noted, for example, the need to strengthen the intra-organizational cooperation, deal more effectively with Hamas' top ranks and institutionalize institutions.

The PA is soon expected to set up a local prison service, while buildings and rebuilding seven jailhouses.

Although General Dayton stated recently that the security control of West Bank cities could be handed over to the Palestinians within two years, the Central Command is in no rush to set a timetable, noting the difference which must be bridged before such an agreement is reached.

At the same time, the senior officer said, there is a rise in foreign elements' attempts to carry out "high-quality" terror attacks inside Israel, which will be initiated in the West Bank.

Hezbollah, the officer said, is helping organize such attacks by remote control, by funneling money, mediating between different groups and providing know-how.

The Islamic Jihad is leading the number of attempted attacks, but Hamas – despite the IDF and Shin Bet's strenuous activity – is also trying to build infrastructures in order to execute terror attacks.

According to the senior officer, the army is adopting a quiet policy of actions, continuing its wave of arrests very night and uncovering terror nests, Including the smallest ones.


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