Israel enacts new policy to reduce West Bank violence

Analysis: Lapid and Gantz seek to avoid a large-scale military operation on the West Bank, reduce the number of Palestinian casualties, and strengthen the Palestinian Authority's control; security services and IDF implement creative means, already showing positive results

Ron Ben-Yishai|
The killing on Sunday, of Tamer al-Kilani, a senior activist in the so called Lion’s Den militant group in Nablus, if indeed Israel is behind it, demonstrates the new, more sophisticated course of action chosen to deal with the surging terror in the northern West Bank.
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  • Israel is concerned that further escalation with the Palestinians and constant terror attacks by the Lion's Den members, will encourage other youths to imitate them.
    3 View gallery
    פלסטינים חמושים בהלווית תאמר אל-כילאני
    פלסטינים חמושים בהלווית תאמר אל-כילאני
    Few members of the Lion's Den during Tamer al-Kilani funeral
    (Photo: Reuters)
    This resulted in two ways of terror Israel faces - stones and Molotov cocktails throwing, and the new kind which includes terror attacks targeting Israeli security forces.
    Therefore, the Israeli leadership it seems, decided to urgently deal with the Lion's Den in Nablus and the terrorists the group motivates or dispatches.
    At the end of last week, the IDF, the Shin Bet, and the Israel Police, followed the instructions of Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz's and established a new operational course of action based on the experience accumulated from previous terror waves, and especially during recent months, known as the "TikTok intifada."
    It is possible to assume that the killing of al-Kilani's is already part of the new operational tactic. The goal of it is to suppress the current terror wave but to do it in a way that will prevent a general uprising in the West Bank.
    3 View gallery
    הערכת מצב וביקור בפיקוד דרום
    הערכת מצב וביקור בפיקוד דרום
    Security assessment of the Israeli leadership
    (Photo: GPO)
    The Israeli security forces were told to be creative but mindful of three restrictions: Reduce the number of Palestinian casualties when they do not directly endanger the security forces operating among the local population; allow the Palestinian Authority and its security services to strengthen and in some cases restore their control often lost when facing such small terror groups; refrain from a large-scale operation in the West Bank, so the uninvolved civilians won't suffer because of the terrorist's actions, and Israel will not head into elections in the midst of a massive military operation.
    The effort to reduce the number of casualties is clear: Every dead Palestinian, whether armed or killed in an exchange of fire, becomes a martyr on social media and the word quickly spreads among thousands of angry Palestinian youth.
    This encourages others to launch terror attacks. The incitement and financial incentives offered by Hamas and Islamic Jihad from Gaza also add fuel to this fire.
    The need to strengthen the PA is also important to Israel because it is concerned not only about the lone-wolf terrorists but also about the danger that the increased violent altercations will ultimately lead to the fall of the PA.
    In such a scenario, Hamas might take over the West Bank, which will in turn force the IDF to yet again, become the sovereign over the territory and Israel will have to bear the full security, economic and administrative burden of ruling over some 2.6 million Palestinians.
    3 View gallery
    חיילי צה"ל בבידוק ליד שכם
    חיילי צה"ל בבידוק ליד שכם
    Israeli checkpoints near Nablus
    (Photo: AP )
    The Israeli security forces believe that the PA and its security services still have the ability to operate effectively in their jurisdiction and restrain the Lion's Den militants.
    The IDF is able to launch a one time large scale operation, to eliminate this group - which numbers only dozens, but Israel prefers that the PA solve the problem in its own manner, by combining persuasion, an increase of security forces and higher salaries, and sometimes the use of brutal force.
    This preference is not only motivated by a desire to avoid losses among the forces but also aims to give the PA the opportunity to reclaim its governance in Nablus.
    That is why the IDF has avoided entering large forces into the city and it is comfortable with imposing closures from the outside, while the PA operates inside.
    This policy indeed leads to a decrease in the number of terror attacks.
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