Two weeks after the murder of IDF soldier Tomer Hazan at the hands of a Palestinian co-worker, the army remains concerned over the ease with which Israelis illegally enter Area A, which is under full security and civilian control of the Palestinian Authority.
The security establishment estimates that the attempts to kidnap civilians and soldiers for bargaining purposes will persist.
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Meanwhile, the investigation into Saturday night's terror attack in Psagot continues. Security officials are looking into the possibility that the Palestinian terrorist who infiltrated the Jewish settlement and hurt a nine-year-old girl initially planned to break into one of the settlement's homes but then decided to attack the girl instead and flee the scene. The security establishment estimates that the terrorist acted alone and was not sent by any organized Palestinian group.
In light of the escalation of violence in the West Bank and polls conducted within the Judea and Samaria Division indicating that IDF soldiers rank the threat of abduction relatively low, the army has instructed commanders to brief soldiers on security protocols. Soldiers were warned not to hitchhike in the West Bank or leave outposts alone after dark.
According to a senior officer in the division, many Israelis who continue to enter Area A become prime targets for terrorists, who hope to use them as bargaining chips. "We are talking about dozens of visits a week to Palestinian communities, despite the warning signs at the entrances to Area A," the officer said.
"They are risking their lives. In only two or three cases a week the Israelis are apprehended by Palestinian police and are returned to Israel. The cases are usually closed without an indictment. The excuses range from 'we were looking for a garage' to 'we got lost.' Many settlers also enter Area A, despite the prohibition."
The officer also addressed possible developments on the ground related to the renewal of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. "Each round of negotiations is accompanied by attempts to harm us. We understand that any conclusion to the peace talks will have an effect on the ground - be it an agreement that will affect the restrictions, or an 'explosion' that will lead to a sense of despair and loss of control. We are monitoring the process with open eyes," the officer explained.
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