'Security coordination with Palestinians prevented disaster in Jenin'
Defense officials say incident, in which two soldiers accidentally entered Jenin, could've ended worse if it hadn't been for the IDF's security coordination with the Palestinian security services; 'Israel has to understand that while we are committed to agreements, we're not Israel's new Lahad army,' says Palestinian security official.
Defense establishment officials said Monday night that had it not been for the security coordination between the IDF and Palestinian security services, the attack on two soldiers in Jenin would've ended much worse.
Israelis—mostly civilians but also soldiers—enter areas A and B of the West Bank accidentally or intentionally almost on a daily basis. Usually, it's thanks to the quick operations of the Palestinian police that these incidents end without violence.
However, Palestinian security services prefer not to take the credit, as they fear they would be perceived as traitors among the public in the West Bank.
"Israel has to understand that while we are committed to agreements, and that is why we intervene in such incidents—we're not Israel's new 'Lahad army.' That won't happen," said an official in the Palestinian security forces, referring to Antoine Lahad, the leader of the South Lebanon Army.
The official said he has been witnessing radicalization on the Palestinian street. "I've been part of the Palestinian security services since they were founded, and I've never come across such a climate of radicalization like what exists on the Palestinian street these days. Even during the second intifada, there wasn't such a hostile atmosphere on the Palestinian street," he said.
The average Palestinian, he said, "looks around, sees the settlements developing at full speed ahead, sees an Israeli government that is not moving towards a diplomatic agreement—all of that has been happening for a while. Now, there is an anti-Palestinian American administration, and we simply don't interest the Arab states. The average Palestinian feels abandoned from all directions. It brings out negative energy from the streets, the likes of which we haven't seen since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority."
Two IDF soldiers—a non-commissioned officer (NCO) and a female conscript soldier under his command—were making their way from the settlement of Shavei Shomron to Afula using the navigation app Waze because they were unfamiliar with the area.
They accidentally entered Jenin, where they were attacked by young Palestinians who encircled the military vehicle and threw stones at it.
Palestinian police officers helped rescue them from the mob.
The female soldier sustained light to moderate wounds in her face and legs from the windshield glass. Images released by the Palestinians show her bleeding from her face. She was evacuated to a hospital in Afula.
The NCO has already been discharged from the hospital, while the soldier was kept in for observation.
The IDF is investigating the incident to determine whether to discipline the NCO, who was in command of the drive. An initial investigation found the two ignored a road sign barring the entry of Israelis to Jenin.
According to the NCO and soldier's version, the Palestinians threw "chairs and stones non-stop" at them. They described the experience as "terrifying and scary."
The IDF's Judea and Samaria Division has barred the use of the Waze app after a previous incident in which two soldiers got lost and accidentally entered Qalandiya.
Nazareth Illit Mayor Ronen Plot visited the female soldier, a resident of his city, on Monday. "I spoke with the soldier's mother. She's very upset. Everyone is stressed out because of what happened, and they are all wondering what could've happened if heavens forbid this had ended differently," Plot said.
He noted the soldier's family claimed there was no gate or signs to indicate the entrance to Jenin.
Waze said in response, "While we can't comment on a specific drive, we would like to stress that the Waze app includes a default setting that prevents navigation through areas marked as dangerous or as barred for Israelis. There is also an alert that pops up when entering an area forbidden for entry."