In a highly unusual decision, Israel allowed five armored vehicles to be transferred to the Palestinian Authority on Sunday night, the Haaretz newspaper reported.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman granted permission for the vehicles to be brought from Jordan for the Palestinian security forces, the report said.
An Israeli spokesperson pointed out that the exceptional permission came in light of the deteriorating security situation in the Palestinian Authority. The armored jeeps were transferred in the middle of Sunday night via the Allenby Bridge border crossing.
US Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority Lieutenant General Fred Rudesheim negotiated the transfer, which had been delayed for four years, Haaretz reported.
The Palestinian forces want the armored vehicles due to a deterioration in the security situation, particularly in the north of the West Bank where they have been carrying out wide-ranging operations against illegally armed gangs opposed to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, in the Balata refugee camp near Nablus and other areas.
Abbas claims that the gangs are funded by exiled rival Mohammad Dahlan. Each side is believed to be pumping funds to supporters, among them armed men, in a bid to buy loyalty. Palestinian officials have accused Dahlan, who receives financial support from the United Arab Emirates, of purposely fomenting chaos to pressure Abbas.
The clashes have also been fueled by the tough economic situation in the West Bank, where the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority, the area’s largest employer, can no longer dole out jobs to its supporters the way it used to.
Palestinian police say their incursions into Balata, a teeming slum of 20,000 people crammed into just one square kilometer (less than half a square mile), are an attempt to arrest 10 gunmen wanted for a number of crimes, including murder.
The Palestinian Authority has struggled to disarm militants since the end of the second Palestinian uprising in 2005, and some parts of the West Bank are still flush with weapons.
Associated Press contributed to this report.