September 7, 2022 | Flash Brief

Israel Thwarts Terror Plots in West Bank, Yet Threats Continue

September 7, 2022 | Flash Brief

Israel Thwarts Terror Plots in West Bank, Yet Threats Continue

Latest Developments 

Israel’s Chief of the General Staff Aviv Kohavi stated on Monday that since late March, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have apprehended approximately 1,500 wanted Palestinians in the West Bank and thwarted “hundreds of attacks.” Kohavi’s statement highlights the significant threat posed by Palestinian terrorist organizations in the territory, including Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, and others.

Expert Analysis

“The sharp uptick in IDF activity in the West Bank is a direct result of a spike in Palestinian terrorist activity. Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority has lost control of pockets of the West Bank, and the result has been terror attacks against Israelis and increased lawlessness on both sides of the green line. The IDF is working overtime on a terrorist-containment strategy to ensure that the West Bank does not fall into the hands of Iran-backed terror groups.”
Enia Krivine, Senior Director of FDD’s Israel Program and National Security Network

“It’s clear the Palestinian Authority’s control over areas of the West Bank has eroded. The loss of control has led to an inability to fight terrorism in the PA’s own back yard. Israel is supporting the PA by carrying out operations against organizations such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which continues to gain ground as the PA loses control in areas of the West Bank.” – Joe Truzman, Research Analyst, FDD’s Long War Journal

A Long-Simmering Threat

For years after the 2000-2005 intifada, areas of the West Bank such as Jenin were relatively peaceful and benefited from Israeli Arab tourism. However, in recent years, the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) rule over these areas has weakened. Some of this stems from frustration with the leadership of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who was elected in 2005 to serve a four-year term but has refused to hold presidential elections since he took power. Some of this also stems from a deliberate strategy, launched by Hamas and PIJ, to destabilize the West Bank as part of a broader bid to gain greater control.

The PA Is Complicit in Attacks Against Israel

Kohavi said the PA’s inability to “properly govern” areas under its control has provided “fertile ground” for terrorism. The U.S.-supported Palestinian Security Forces (PSF) cannot yet operate at the same level of professionalism as the IDF. In some cases, PA intelligence officers, PA customs police, and members of the PSF have been complicit in attacks against the IDF since last year.

The IDF Has Increased Operations in the West Bank to Curb the Chaos

The uptick in terror activity in the West Bank has occurred primarily in the northern West Bank cities of Jenin and Nablus. Militants have established a joint operations room in Jenin to respond to IDF incursions. This fusion center enables Palestinian terrorists from different (and sometimes competing) factions to fight the IDF together. The result is a recent spike in clashes between IDF troops and Palestinian militants.

Chicken and Egg

Some Palestinians are warning that continued Israeli operations in the West Bank could provoke a wider conflict. On the other hand, Israeli security services assert that if the IDF does not neutralize the threats in the lawless pockets of the West Bank, the problem will only worsen. This is a conundrum that both the PA and Israel will need to address separately and together, particularly if the goal is to prevent a broader crisis.

Related FDD Analysis


Israel Palestinian Politics