The Palestinian Authority’s security services are responsible for about 40 percent of all arrests of suspected terrorists in the West Bank in recent months, according to data presented recently to government officials by senior officers in the Israel Defense Forces’ Central Command.
This represents a dramatic expansion of the PA security services’ counterterrorism effort. Until about three months ago, they were responsible for only some 10 percent of such arrests. The majority of arrests, however, are still carried out by the IDF.
In light of this increased activity by the Palestinian security services, the IDF has reduced its own activity in Area A in recent months. Area A is the part of the West Bank that, under the Oslo Accords, is supposed to be under full Palestinian control.
From October 2015, when the latest wave of terror began, until March 2016, the IDF entered Area A almost daily and conducted hundreds of operations per month in major Palestinian cities. But since then, the pace has declined to dozens of operations per month, because the PA security services are doing more of the work.
About three weeks ago, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said the extent of the IDF’s activity in Palestinian cities would depend on how much the PA security services were doing.
“This isn’t something diplomatic – it’s about security,” he said. “If they’ll do the work, why not? What they don’t do, we’ll have to do, but there’s no situation in which we’ll completely refrain from entering Area A. Such incursions will depend on their activity. If they do less, we’ll do more; if they do more, we’ll do less.”
Since the beginning of October, the IDF has arrested some 2,500 Palestinians on suspicion of being involved in or planning terrorist activity. About 700 of those arrested were held in administrative detention, without trial.
During this same period, the PA security services have arrested hundreds of people.
The IDF says Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation satisfies a shared need and is important to both sides.