Abbas urges international action against Israel over daytime raid in Ramallah

PA president threatens ‘important and fateful decisions’ after soldiers seize security camera footage in heart of Ramallah, possibly connected to manhunt for Ofra terrorist

Adam Rasgon is a former Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Israeli soldiers stand inside a restaurant during a raid in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on December 10, 2018, following a drive-by shooting attack next to a settlement the previous day in which many Israelis were injured. (ABBAS MOMANI / AFP)
Israeli soldiers stand inside a restaurant during a raid in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on December 10, 2018, following a drive-by shooting attack next to a settlement the previous day in which many Israelis were injured. (ABBAS MOMANI / AFP)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas contacted a number of Arab and international officials on Monday after Israeli security forces raided Ramallah in broad daylight earlier in the day, Abbas’s office said in a statement.

Israeli security forces raided the headquarters of the official PA news site Wafa in Ramallah and seized security camera footage Monday, a day after seven Israeli civilians, including a pregnant woman, were wounded in a terrorist attack near the Ofra settlement in the West Bank.

Doctors managed to deliver the baby in an emergency Cesarean section after the attack and were fighting to stabilize him. The woman was in serious but stable condition.

Following the daytime raid, Abbas reached out to the Arab and international officials to ask them to bear “their responsibilities regarding the dangerous Israeli escalation embodied in the continued raids of Palestinian cities,” the statement said.

He also requested them to take action against Jews “defiling holy sites,” without expanding.

Israeli soldiers search for gunmen who opened fire at a bus stop outside the West Bank settlement of Ofra, injuring seven people, on December 9, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

For several years, the Palestinians have demanded that Israeli security forces cease entering Area A of the West Bank, which according to the Oslo Accords is under PA security and administrative control.

Israeli security forces often enter Area A of the West Bank for arrest raids, but broad daylight operations in the hearts of Palestinian cities are rare.

On Monday, troops entered the offices of Wafa, prevented workers from leaving and checked IDs, according to the PA news site. They forced workers in a newsroom to open another office and seized internal security camera footage, Wafa said.

Troops also went to nearby buildings and seized security camera footage.

During the raids, low-level clashes broke out a few hundred meters from Abbas’s home, near the center of the seat of Palestinian power.

Two people were hit with live bullets during the clashes, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.

An army spokeswoman said she could not comment on the Ramallah raid, including whether it was connected to shooting that took place outside Ofra on Sunday.

Troops have been carrying out searches in Palestinian towns and villages since the Sunday night attack in an effort to find the gunman and accomplices.

Israeli soldiers deploy during clashes in the West Bank city of Ramallah following a raid on December 10, 2018, one day after a drive-by shooting attack next to a settlement in which many Israelis were injured. (ABBAS MOMANI / AFP)

Abbas’s office threatened “important and fateful decisions” would be made if the raids on Palestinian cities and “acts of aggression” against Palestinians continue, without elaborating.

In recent months, Abbas has threatened to abrogate agreements between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel.

“We are going to put all the agreements between us and the Israelis on the table and we will ask them to stop violating each agreement,” Abbas told Palestine TV, the official PA television station, in an October interview. “I am not saying this is an easy issue; it is a dangerous issue. Perhaps we will arrive at the point of abrogating a lot of what is between us and the Israelis.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gives a speech after laying a wreath at the tomb of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in the West Bank city of Ramallah on November 11, 2018. (Abbas Momani/AFP)

The PLO and Israel have signed several agreements, including the Oslo Accords, which established the PA and outlined security, economic and other ties between it and the Jewish state.

While the Oslo Accords state the PA bears responsibility for security in Area A, they also say “Israel should have the overriding responsibility for security for the purpose of protecting Israelis and confronting the threat of terrorism.”

Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat on Twitter denounced the raids as a “deliberate and reckless campaign led by the Israeli government and its army against the people of Palestine.”

Speaking to Palestine TV earlier on Monday, Ahmad Assaf, the PA official responsible for overseeing government-run Palestinian media, called the Israeli raid on the Wafa headquarters a “crime” and vowed that it would not dissuade him and his colleagues from “exposing the occupation’s crimes.”

Assaf also asserted that the Palestinians would follow up in international institutions and organizations to hold Israel to account for the raid.

AFP contributed to this report.

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