September 29, 2022 | Flash Brief

Israeli Operations in West Bank Reflect Shrinking PA Control

September 29, 2022 | Flash Brief

Israeli Operations in West Bank Reflect Shrinking PA Control

Latest Developments

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) engaged in a firefight on Wednesday with members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), resulting in four fatalities, three from PIJ and one from the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Israeli forces launched the operation in the West Bank town of Jenin to arrest two PIJ men responsible for carrying out a series of shooting attacks against Israelis in recent months. Israeli officials said the pair had planned “more significant attacks in the near future.” The incident points to the troubling trend of increased violence in the West Bank by terrorist groups, which are positioning themselves to assume control of the increasingly lawless Palestinian Authority (PA) when its current president, Mahmoud Abbas, dies or leaves office.

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’ 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

A Long-Simmering Threat

For years after the 2000–2005 intifada, areas of the West Bank, such as Jenin, were relatively peaceful and even benefited from Israeli-Arab tourism. However, in recent years, the PA has found it increasingly difficult to maintain order in the West Bank. This problem stems in part from the PA’s routine arrests of Palestinian activists, journalists, and political foes of Abbas, who was elected in 2005 to serve a four-year term but has refused to hold presidential elections since then. The PA’s weakness also reflects a deliberate strategy by Hamas and PIJ to destabilize the West Bank as part of a bid to gain greater control. This effort is supported by the groups’ patron, the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Tehran, Hezbollah, and Others Are Complicit

Israeli Chief of the General Staff Aviv Kochavi said earlier this month that the PA’s inability to “properly govern” areas under its control has provided “fertile ground” for terrorism. Tehran and Hezbollah have used the power vacuum created in the wake of the PA’s absence to smuggle arms to the West Bank.

In several instances, members of the Palestinian Authority’s security forces have been complicit in attacks against the IDF, including the September 14 killing of an IDF officer. Hamas has also exhibited a dramatic uptick in military activity in the West Bank. For example, Israel recently captured two Hamas terrorist cells in the West Bank that reported directly to the group’s base in Gaza. PIJ has also expanded its infrastructure in the northern West Bank by establishing terrorist groups in Tubas, Tulkarm, and Nablus.

Related FDD Analysis


Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran-backed Terrorism Israel Palestinian Politics