PA busts Islamic Jihad cell planning attacks on IDF

Six-member cell from northern West Bank caught transporting homemade bomb, grenades and guns inside empty gas tank

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative image of Palestinian police officers in the West Bank city of Nablus. (Maya Levin / Flash90)
Illustrative image of Palestinian police officers in the West Bank city of Nablus. (Maya Levin / Flash90)

Palestinian Authority security forces on Tuesday arrested six members of an Islamic Jihad cell in the West Bank caught transporting explosives intended to be used in attacks on IDF soldiers.

According Palestinian sources, PA forces found an improvised explosive device, several grenades and firearms inside an emptied gas tank being transported by the group, which was based in the northern West Bank town of Tubas, Israel Radio reported.

PA forces have carried out several major arrests of Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives in recent weeks in what is said to be an effort by PA President Mahmoud Abbas to curb the wave of Palestinian terror attacks and almost-daily clashes between IDF soldiers and rioters.

Unnamed Palestinian sources told Channel 10 that Abbas instructed the security forces to crack down on Hamas activities in the West Bank, including preventing attacks and encouraging violence, before setting out for Paris earlier this week.

Earlier on Tuesday a Palestinian woman was shot attempting to stab an IDF officer near a West Bank checkpoint, hours after Israeli troops killed a knife-wielding Palestinian man who approached a bus stop south of Jerusalem.

Last week, Israeli and Palestinian sources told the Times of Israel that the PA has thwarted dozens of planned stabbing attacks on Israelis by young Palestinian men and women in recent months.

The Palestinian sources claimed more than 100 attacks have been foiled by the PA security apparatus since October 1. If true, the claim means that the number of attacks on Israelis, of which there have been fewer than 100 to date, would have been more than doubled.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top Israeli officials have repeatedly accused Abbas of fanning tensions and encouraging violence and terrorism. In Paris on Monday, Netanyahu shook hands with Abbas for the first time in five years, but later that day told Israeli reporters Abbas was inciting terrorism and that the handshake did not signal a rapprochement.

On Monday, the PA instructed its broadcasting authority to indefinitely suspend Hamas’s Al-Aqsa TV programming in the West Bank.

Israeli watchdog groups have long-claimed Al-Aqsa TV promotes terrorist activity, teaches anti-Semitism and incites hatred of Israelis, especially in its programming for children.

Avi Issacharoff contributed to this report.

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