Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Monday that coordination between Israeli and PA security forces continues despite an attack on Sunday in which three soldiers were wounded by a Palestinian Authority security officer.
“The issue was raised overnight in a meeting between our security officials and Palestinian security officials,” he told Israel Radio. “First of all, the’re distancing themselves from this – [these attacks] are not their policy — but we are certainly demanding explanations and oversight of the employees of various security services.”
Ya’alon said that, on average, Palestinian security forces succeeded in foiling 20 percent of planned attacks against Israelis, while Israel was able to prevent 80%.
The Palestinian attacker, Amjad Sakari, 35, opened fire at an IDF checkpoint near Beit El in the West Bank, wounding three soldiers, two of them seriously. He was shot dead by soldiers at the scene.
The defense minister listed a series of steps that have become more or less routine when Israeli security officials know where an attacker came from: “His village was locked down, and there is activity there [by Israeli security forces]. We are taking all sorts of steps against terrorists, against their homes, their families – regarding permits to work inside Israel, and also against the village itself, with arrests etc.”
Ya’alon admitted that an “important factor” in the recent spate of attacks has been Israel’s inability to preempt individual Palestinian actions. Still, he continued, the “lone wolf” phenomenon was “a result of our success in foiling terror attacks by the larger organizations, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”
He declared that Israel would end the attacks, and said that Israel had no wish to rule over the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza. “We have been in the midst of a struggle over this land for 130 years. We will defeat this terror wave as we did others, I am sure of it,” he said.
Ya’alon dismissed a recent French initiative to restart peace talks, announced on Friday and rejected by Israeli officials almost immediately. France packaged the initiative with an ultimatum: If talks reach a dead end, France will unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state.
The defense minister, who said he has been dealing with the Palestinian issue for many years and at the highest levels of government, said the root of the struggle was Palestinian unwillingness to recognize a Jewish state of any size.
“I’ve had enough of conferences, enough of ceremonies, enough of documents phrased by lawyers. At the end of the day it’s between us and them. Our policy is very clear: We don’t want to control them. It seems like they don’t want to end the conflict. The heart of this conflict is their unwillingness to recognize our existence in any borders,” Ya’alon said.
After a weekend in which several Israeli families living in towns near the border with Gaza reported hearing digging sounds under their homes, and after Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh admitted his group has been digging more cross-border tunnels, Ya’alon said Israel was aware of the threat and preparing to cope with it.
“I think the tunnel threat is well known to us — no one thought they would stop digging or stop arming themselves,” he said, asserting that ever since the war in the Strip in 2014, the army has been “investing greatly in capabilities that remain secret, in both defense and offense.
“As of today, we have no evidence that a tunnel was dug under anyone’s home,” he said.