Special police force arrests two Tanzim militants in Bethlehem
Troops arrest two Palestinians carrying 15-kg. explosive device; IDF raises alert level on northern border.
Special police forces arrested two Tanzim militants Monday morning in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.
Security forces also arrested 11 other wanted Palestinians across the West Bank before dawn on Monday. Five wanted men were arrested in Ramallah and another man was arrested in Khirbet Qaliya located south of Bethlehem when a hunting rifle was found in his home.
The Israel Defense Forces said three Hamas members and an Islamic Jihad operative were arrested in the village of Qabatiyah and another wanted man was arrested in Jenin.
On Sunday, IDF soldiers arrested two Palestinians at the Beit Iba checkpoint north of Nablus after discovering in their possession a 15-kilogram explosive device.
The Palestinians were immediately transferred into the custody of the Shin Bet security service for questioning. Sappers safely neutralized the device.
The suspects had exited the city limits of Nablus apparently in an effort to hand the device to another party. Defense officials do not believe the two Palestinians had intended to execute a suicide bombing.
IDF sources believe the Fatah-affiliated Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades sought to use the bomb for a terrorist attack within Israel proper.
On Saturday evening, the IDF tightened its closure on the territories as Israelis prepare to celebrate the holiday of Purim beginning Monday night. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz convened security officials for consultations in which they heard assessments pointing to a rise in attempted terrorist attacks during Purim as well as the run-up period before the March 28 general elections.
The closure is to remain in effect at least until Wednesday, although it is likely to be extended through the election period. Karni crossing will remain open at this stage despite intelligence warnings of Palestinian intentions to carry out an attack in the area. The matter remains under review on a daily basis.
IDF on high alert in north The IDF went on high alert Sunday evening along the northern border with Lebanon due to warnings of a possible Hezbollah attack.
The decision to raise the level of alert was made after a situation assessment meeting held by the Northern Command.
The IDF Spokesperson said Israel sees the Lebanese government as responsible for all hostile activity along the border.
Israel has made similar pronouncements in the past after receiving intelligence information indicating Hezbollah intentions to carry out attacks.
However, the last time such a step was taken in November 2005, the boosted IDF alert did not deter Hezbollah from attempting to carry out a cross-border attack.
In that incident, during which Hezbollah attempted to kidnap an IDF soldier in Ghajar, four Hezbollah fighters were killed and 11 IDF soldiers were wounded.