The past few months have seen a dramatic decrease in the number of attacks by Palestinians against Israelis in the West Bank, OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon told settler leaders in a meeting on Wednesday. “Intensified IDF action and improved cooperation with the Palestinian security forces,” Alon said according to Hebrew daily Maariv, resulted in a two-thirds drop in the number of attacks over the past two months.
Wednesday’s meeting with the settler leaders was a follow-up to a similar gathering that took place in the Knesset in March amid a wave of violence so severe that had some in the security establishment predicting the start of a third Palestinian Intifada (popular uprising). At the height of the tension, there were reports of as many as 200 attacks a day, mostly rock throwing incidents and Molotov cocktail attacks.
The upsurge, which began at around the time when Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza, in mid November 2012, carried on into the winter and spring with dozens of attacks on Israeli vehicles, road closures and violent protests.
The situation, in which settlers were afraid to leave their homes, Alon said, led the army to intensify its efforts at maintaining security and resulted in a crackdown on any displays of violence by the Palestinians.
According to the data Alon presented to the settler leaders in attendance, including West Bank local council heads and Yesha Council chairman Avi Roeh, the past two months have seen a 64% decline in Molotov cocktail throwing incidents — from 79 in March to just 29 in June — and a nearly 70% drop in rock throwing incidents.
Alon credited the decline to a major arrest spree by the IDF in cooperation with the Shin Bet, who were able to identify the perpetrators of the attacks. Alon also cited increased military presence in known West Bank “hot spots” and improved cooperation with the Palestinian Authority security forces.
The settler leaders told Alon that they could tell there was an improvement in the security situation, thanked the IDF for its efforts and expressed hope that the trend would last.