IDF cuts down West Bank raids for fear U.S. diplomats will see
U.S. consulate employees tour area regularly to gather testimony, oversee projects, meet PA officials.
The Israel Defense Forces has canceled a number of planned arrest operations in the West Bank fearing soldiers will be seen by American diplomats touring the territories.
IDF officers serving with their units in the West Bank said they were instructed by brigade commanders in recent weeks to call off the planned arrests of wanted men inside Palestinian towns, because of these diplomats' presence.
The diplomats, mostly employees of the U.S. consulate in East Jerusalem, have been traveling regularly to the West Bank to gather testimony on settlement construction, to oversee American-funded projects and to meet with Palestinian Authority officials.
"We were told that the situation with the Americans is sensitive, and that it is not desirable that operations are conducted that could lead to violent situations when they [the Americans] are there," one of the officers said.
In recent months, the IDF has removed most of the checkpoints in the West Bank, decreased the frequency of its entries into Palestinian towns and transferred responsibility for security in some of the areas to the Palestinian Authority.
However, IDF troops still occasionally carry out arrests of wanted Palestinians, mainly of people suspected of belonging to terrorist organizations or of having carried out low-level terror attacks.
According to IDF newspaper Bamahane, there was a 9 percent drop in 2008 in indictments submitted against Palestinian civilians for terror-related offenses.