Israeli Government Rejects Police Recommendation to Seal Off West Bank

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A masked Palestinian hurls rocks towards Israeli soldiers during clashes in Hebron on October 10, 2015.Credit: AFP

A police recommendation to seal off the West Bank and prevent Palestinians from crossing the Green Line was rejected last Thursday by Israel's leadership.

The recommendation, which was made at the height of last week's wave of stabbings, was not supported by the other security organs, including the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet.

Another five stabbing attacks took place on the weekend (three in Jerusalem, one in Afula and one in Kiryat Arba) and one attack in which a Jewish youth stabbed Palestinians and a Bedouin citizen of Israel in Dimona.

Rather than endorse the police recommendation, the country's leadership accepted the position of Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot that closing off the West Bank would not be effective in reducing the number of stabbing attempts. On the other hand, it would be seen as collective punishment of the Palestinians in the territories and could push even more Palestinians into the cycle of violence.

The IDF is not recommending that additional reinforcements be sent to the West Bank, other than the four regiments that have already been sent, and is not recommending the mobilization of reservists.

Nine Palestinians were killed in the violent demonstrations that took place over the weekend at Gaza's border with Israel (seven on Friday and two on Saturday) and dozens were wounded. The Israeli fire occurred when the demonstrators approached the border fence and some of them attempted to cross it.

The demonstrations were organized by Islamic Jihad, with assistance from Hamas. After the deaths on Friday, three rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel, two of which landed inside the strip. The third landed in an open area in the Eshkol regional council.

Additional Iron Dome anti-missile batteries were deployed in southern Israel over the weekend in anticipation of a Palestinian response to the border killings. Six batteries are currently deployed, providing protection to all the major cities and towns in the south and their environs. 

Defense sources said on Saturday night that no increase in the volume of the demonstrations in the West Bank has been noted over the past few says, despite the wave of attacks.

Muslim prayers at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem went quietly on Friday, though the capital remained the focus of stabbing attempts. Three attacks took place there over the weekend, all in the area between the Old City's Damascus Gate and Haneviim Street in West Jerusalem.

Security cooperation with the Palestinian Authority remains in place, primarily via telephone calls between the two sides. But the heads of Palestinian security appear to be having difficulty in controlling demonstrations in several locations, in light of their concern about criticism from the Palestinian population and accusations that the Authority is cooperating with Israel.