PA said to thwart attack on IDF despite official end of security cooperation

Palestinian security forces reportedly uncover two stashes of pipe bombs that were to be hurled at Israeli troops operating in and around West Bank city of Jenin

Illustrative -- Israeli troops patrol the streets of the West Bank city of Jenin, January 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Illustrative -- Israeli troops patrol the streets of the West Bank city of Jenin, January 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Palestinian security forces reportedly foiled an attack planned on Israeli troops outside the West Bank city of Jenin, despite the Palestinian Authority having announced an end to security cooperation with Israel over the government’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank.

Palestinian security forces on Thursday received information about preparations being made for an attack on Israel Defense Forces troops stationed in the area, the Ynet news site reported Sunday.

This intelligence led to a raid, which uncovered some 30 pipe bombs that were reportedly to be hurled at troops during routine nighttime raids into the West Bank city to make arrests, the report said. A shotgun was also discovered.

Following the discovery, a second location was searched and a stash of a further 10 pipe bombs was found buried in agricultural land, along with a rifle. The weapons were reportedly hidden close to a transport route often used by IDF soldiers operating in the area.

Palestinian officials would not confirm to the outlet whether information on the planned attack was  conveyed to their Israeli counterparts. The report did not mention if there were any arrests or who was considered responsible for the weapons stashes.

Illustrative — Palestinian security forces man a road block at the entrance to the West Bank city of Bethlehem, March 19, 2020. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

Defense officials have warned that the halting of cooperation between Israel and the PA could lead to rising violence, with more clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinians.

The severing of the cooperation came after PA President Mahmoud Abbas announced last month the Palestinians were no longer bound by agreements with Israel and the US, citing the new government’s plan to move forward with annexation of West Bank settlements and the Jordan Valley as early as July 1.

For years, Abbas has made similar threats on numerous occasions to end security ties with Israel and dissolve the PA, but never followed through.

But on May 21, he declared that the PA was “absolved” of all agreements and understandings with Israel and the US. Abbas said his statement was in response to repeated Israeli violations of those agreements, including the planned unilateral annexation of parts of the West Bank by Israel, and that his security forces were cutting ties with the Israeli military.

The claim has since proven to be overstated, as some degree of coordination has continued despite the dramatic announcement, though to a lesser extent than normal.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas heads a leadership meeting at his headquarters, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, May 19, 2020. (Alaa Badarneh/Pool via AP)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted he will go ahead with plans to extend Israeli sovereignty to settlements and the Jordan Valley — some 30 percent of the West Bank — from July 1.

The move would be coordinated with the United States, in accordance with a plan President Donald Trump unveiled in January, which endorsed extending Israeli sovereignty over these parts of the West Bank.

However, there are signs a short delay might be in the offing.

US approval depends on the completion of a mapping process being carried out by a joint Israeli-US team, and a source told The Times of Israel that it is “highly unlikely” that the process will be done by July 1. The source said it could be delayed by weeks or even months.

In addition, European countries, as well as Arab nations with which Israel does not have formal ties, have also warned Israel against the consequences of annexation.

The Palestinians have rejected the entire Trump proposal.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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