Hamas on Sunday expressed concern at the joint security operations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority after PA forces arrested three suspected would-be terrorists on their way to an attack over the weekend.
“The cooperation between the PA and Israel in arresting the three fighters is a serious escalation in the coordination between them,” said spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri, according to reports.
Zuhri’s comments came the day after PA security forces detained three Palestinian youths who had been missing since March 30, foiling a planned large-scale terror attack against Israeli targets, according to Palestinian Authority sources.
PA forces had conducted intensive searches for the three since they were reported missing.
The trio were found in an open area north of the West Bank city of Ramallah by a joint force of Palestinian police and the Palestinian Internal Security service, according to Palestinian sources who spoke to The Times of Israel.
They had a large quantity of weapons with them, including several hand grenades and a “Carl Gustav” submachine gun, and it is believed they were planning an attack, the sources said.
Palestinian police notified the families of Basel Mahmoud Ala’raj of al-Walaja, near Jerusalem, Mohammed Abdullah Harb of Jenin, and Haytham Sayaj, of Hebron, of the development.
The three were taken for interrogation. According to the Palestinian sources, they are believed to be members of terror group Hamas.
Hamas has been a frequent critic of rival Fatah over the PA’s cooperation with Israel on security matters, and the arrangement is seen as unpopular on the Palestinian street, though Jerusalem and Ramallah both see it as key to keeping a lid on terror groups and other rival factions in the West Bank.
Last month, in an interview with Channel 2, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas credited the cooperation with keeping a recent spate of violence from being even more bloody and said it would continue.
He denied that he is encouraging Palestinian youth to stab Israelis and said that Israelis are unaware of his security forces’ efforts to prevent stabbings.
The attacks, mostly stabbings but also shootings and car-ramming assaults, have killed 29 Israelis, two Americans and two others. Over the same time, at least 188 Palestinians have died by Israeli fire. Israel says most were attackers, and the rest died in clashes with security forces.