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Palestinian security forces become more involved in resistance in West Bank

The involvement of Palestinian security service members in attacks against Israeli forces in the West Bank is on the increase, amid the growing concerns of the Israeli army.
Israeli security forces stand behind a makeshift barricade of flaming tires separating them from Palestinian youths during clashes at the northern entrance of Ramallah, West Bank, Oct. 3, 2022.

RAMALLAH, West Bank — As attacks targeting Israeli forces in the West Bank increase, Israel fears that a growing number of Palestinian security force members will join in on this escalation.

Several recent incidents have reinforced these concerns. The Palestinian security forces have been engaged in confronting the Israeli forces during their raids of West Bank cities and towns.

They also carried out a few operations against Israeli forces, as happened in the city of Jenin Sept. 28, when Ahmed Alawneh, a member of the Palestinian Authority-affiliated Military Intelligence, was killed during clashes with the Israeli army.

On Sept. 14, two Palestinian men, one of whom worked with Military Intelligence and identified as Ahmed Abed, killed an Israeli officer during an exchange of fire at the Jalama checkpoint near Jenin. The two Palestinians were also killed in the firefight.

On Aug. 25, the Israeli army arrested Zaher Hammad, an officer in the Palestinian Presidential Guard, accusing him of participating in the shooting of a bus carrying settlers near the village of Silwad, east of Ramallah, days earlier. 

In July, the Israeli army shot and arrested Mahmoud Hajeer, an officer with the Palestinian police, in Nablus, accusing him of carrying out a shooting attack at the Huwara military checkpoint near Nablus.

In May, Israeli forces arrested Muhammad al-Tubasi, an officer in the Palestinian Preventive Security, from the Jenin camp on charges of killing an Israeli soldier in the camp.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held Sept. 29 a meeting with security leaders and governors to discuss the security situation in the West Bank and the involvement of security officers in resistance operations.

According to the Palestinian Press Agency, Abbas stressed during the meeting the need to impose the law and ensure security and stability to protect the Palestinian people. 

In a report published Sept. 30 by Israel’s Channel 12, Israeli journalist Ohad Hemo said the meeting between Abbas and security leaders was focused on ways to avoid losing control over the Palestinian security services. One security service leader reportedly told Abbas, according to Hemo, “It is not possible to control each and every member of the security services.”

It seems the involvement of Palestinian security members in operations against Israeli forces takes on more than a political and security dimension, as it reflects the security forces’ alienation from the PA’s political project and the security doctrine they were trained for at the hands of US Army Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton.

On the military level, these officers are seen as the most capable of inflicting greater losses on Israeli settlers and soldiers, as they are trained in shooting, and have a network of contacts to secure weapons, in addition to the security information that they communicate with armed militants.

These resistance operations were praised by popular and factional groups, even from Hamas and the Islamic Jihad movement.

Fathi Khazem, nicknamed Abu Raad, a former officer in the Palestinian security services who is wanted by the Israeli army, became a symbol of the resistance in the Jenin camp.

Abu Raad has repeatedly called on his colleagues to follow in his footsteps and escalate resistance operations against the Israeli army — a call that both the PA and Israel fear would be answered by other Palestinian officers and police forces.

The West Bank has been witnessing in recent weeks an escalation in armed confrontations between Palestinian fighters and the Israeli army.

In September, the Shin Bet recorded 212 attacks in the West Bank and Jerusalem, 34 of which were shootings. This was an increase from August, which saw 172 attacks, including 23 shooting operations.

Jamal Huwail, a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council in the Jenin refugee camp, told Al-Monitor, “Security service members are the sons of the Palestinian people, and Israel must realize that its attacks are extremely provocative.”

He said, “These officers are tasked with protecting their people from any attack, according to their security doctrine.”

Huwail noted, “As long as the Israeli attacks continue, more members of the security establishment will rise up to defend their people because this is their mission. They are not here to protect Israel’s security.”

He added, “The officers are more experienced, trained, disciplined and experienced in the work of resistance. If Israel was expecting them to protect its army, it is being delusional.”

Huwail called on all officers to bear a historical and moral responsibility and not to allow Israel to encroach on the Palestinian people’s rights.

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