Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s office condemned the latest acts of violence in the West Bank on Thursday, though it did not explicitly refer to two terror attacks against Israelis in the central West Bank this week.
The PA leader also blamed the prevailing “climate” driving the uptick in West Bank violence on Israeli military raids in Palestinian cities, settler incitement against the PA president, and the stalled peace process.
Abbas’s office issued the statement shortly after two Israeli soldiers were killed and two others — a civilian and another soldier — were severely injured in a terror attack near the Ofra settlement Thursday morning.
The statement also came after Israeli security forces, according to the IDF, closed off all the entrances to Ramallah. The perpetrators of Thursday’s attack were at large, the IDF said, and troops were searching for them.
“The climate created by the policy of repeated raids into cities, incitement against the president and the absence of horizons for peace is what led to this unacceptable series of violence, which we condemn and reject, and for which the two sides are paying the price,” Abbas’s office said in a vaguely worded statement.
In an earlier terror attack on Sunday, seven people were wounded by gunfire in a drive-by shooting, including a pregnant woman, outside the settlement of Ofra. The woman’s baby was delivered prematurely in an emergency operation, but died on Wednesday afternoon.
Israeli forces launched a manhunt for the gunman and possible accomplices following the attack on Sunday and raided Ramallah several times, seizing security camera footage and undertaking other measures. During all the raids, clashes between troops and young Palestinians broke out.
Salih Barghouti, 29, from Kobar, a village near Ramallah, was killed Wednesday evening after he tried to attack troops while escaping arrest and was shot, the Shin Bet security service said, adding that he was believed to have carried out the Ofra terror attack.
Hamas said he carried out the attack and said he was a member of the terror group.
The West Bank has also seen a spate of attempted car-ramming attacks in recent days.
In its statement, Abbas’s office also said its “permanent policy is to reject violence, raids and settler terrorism and [to affirm] the need for stopping incitement and not creating an atmosphere that contributes to increasing tensions.”
On Tuesday, posters seemingly calling for Abbas’s assassination appeared in settlements throughout the West Bank. The placards, which featured Abbas in the crosshairs of a rifle, were placed inside settlements, at bus stops and along West Bank roads by Derech Chaim, a settler group that calls for public policy in accordance with religious Jewish law.
Abbas has long said he opposes violence against Israelis and supports peaceful protest against Israel’s military rule.
“We don’t believe in war, weapons, missiles, planes or tanks,” Abbas said in a speech at the PA presidential headquarters on Saturday, adding that Palestinians instead support “popular resistance” against Israeli’s military rule.
He told Israeli peace activists in a meeting in September that he supports Israel’s security, underlining that the Palestinian and the Israeli security forces work together “on a daily basis” and that he and his people “do anything possible so that no Israeli gets hurt,” according to Peace Now, whose executive director attended the meeting with Abbas.
Israeli government officials, however, blame Abbas for fostering a climate of incitement against Jewish Israelis and have slammed his failure to condemn every attack. Israel and the United States have also strongly denounced the PA practice of paying stipends to the families of Palestinian prisoners, including convicted terrorists who have killed Israeli civilians.