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Army intelligence warns Fatah militants may join terror wave

In briefing last month, security cabinet reportedly heard that without peace talks, violence could spiral further

Palestinian women pass by a mural depicting late Palestinian Authority president Yasser Arafat and jailed Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti at the Qalandiya checkpoint. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Palestinian women pass by a mural depicting late Palestinian Authority president Yasser Arafat and jailed Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti at the Qalandiya checkpoint. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Military Intelligence officials warned last month that with no peace process on the horizon, the armed wing of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement and members of the PA security forces could join the near-daily attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians in the West Bank.

Briefing the security cabinet, the army officials said that the terror wave that began in October 2015 would escalate if Israel did not make efforts to engage diplomatically with the Palestinians, Channel 10 reported. Military Intelligence chief Major-General Herzl Halevi and other security officials presented this assessment on January 24, as part of an annual evaluation of the security situation.

Fatah’s Tanzim terror group has “thousands” of operatives in the West Bank, the report said, while several recent stabbing and shooting attacks, some of them deadly, were carried out by PA policemen.

The Shin Bet security services said on February 15 that the Israel Defense Forces had arrested the head of the Tanzim.

Jamal Abu Lel, 48, ran the organization from the Qalandiya refugee camp outside the West Bank city of Ramallah, according to the Shin Bet. He used the organization to channel money and direct shooting attacks against Israelis, the security services said in a statement.

An Israel Radio report in December, citing an unnamed senior Palestinian source, said Fatah was considering whether to resume its participation in armed attacks on Israelis, and the development was only a matter of time. The radio quoted the unnamed source as saying that Fatah and Tanzim would eventually join the recent wave of assaults.

Some 32 Israelis have been killed in the near-daily stabbing, shooting, and car-ramming attacks since the wave of violence broke out in October. More than 170 Palestinians have also died, most while carrying out attacks or attempted attacks on Israeli targets.

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