New measures are being introduced in the West Bank to tackle the wave of Palestinian terror attacks that has swept Israel over the past two months.
A wave of stabbings, shootings and vehicular rammings have killed at least 22 victims since the beginning of October, including seven in the last week alone. Over 80 percent of the perpetrators have come from the West Bank.
Overnight Monday, IDF soldiers set up checkpoints surrounding Hebron, Hawara and Nablus, as well as around villages adjacent to the Etzion settlement bloc, according to Channel 10 news.
Security forces were reportedly checking all Palestinian vehicles leaving the Hebron area, with hundreds of troops added to the IDF forces deployed to the area to secure the new checkpoints.
Security officials said 16 West Bank terror suspects were arrested overnight Monday, including 12 Hamas activists. A joint force of IDF soldiers, Border Police and the Shin Bet security agency carried out the arrests.
On Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced tighter controls on Palestinian vehicles and an increase in the number of so-called “bypass roads” that create separate routes for Palestinians and Israelis.
Visiting the Etzion Junction in the West Bank Monday, Netanyahu said the army was stepping up its operations in the West Bank and has been given free rein in the area to preempt terror attacks. He urged Israelis to be resilient in the fight against terror.
“On the offensive side,” Netanyahu said, “we’re going anywhere [we need to]. We’re entering [Palestinian] villages, we’re entering towns, we’re entering homes, and conducting widespread arrests. There are no restrictions on the activities of the IDF and the security forces. On the contrary – there’s full support, and this is vital.”
Netanyahu said that security forces are taking preventative action in the West Bank “day in and day out” to put an end to the current situation in which “hundreds of Israelis are killed every year by suicide bombers and other attackers.”
In a measure that underlines the sharply increased friction in day-to-day interaction between Israelis and Palestinians, Israel is also reportedly considering barring all Palestinian workers from supermarkets, factories and other facilities in the Etzion Bloc of settlements south of Jerusalem, an area that has seen several recent terror attacks, according to Channel 2 news. The Palestinian news site Ma’an said 2,000 Palestinians could be affected.
Tamar Pileggi contributed to this report.