Palestinian Forces Prevent Israeli Patrol From Entering Al-Khalil
Palestinian and Israeli forces clashed on Friday in the first dispute between the two sides since the cessation of security coordination between them, sources said.
On Thursday, an Israeli patrol tried to enter the city center of Al-Khalil (known as Hebron), when Palestinian forces blocked their passage, preventing them from accessing the city.
The Israelis sent for an additional force but were met with a stringent Palestinian position.
Minutes later, and after consulting its leadership, the patrol decided to withdraw in order to avoid an escalation.
Observers considered the incident as the first sign of tension after the interruption of security coordination – one of the measures adopted by the Palestinian leadership to face Israeli plans to annex areas in the West Bank.
While Israeli authorities tried to reduce the significance of the incident, Fatah movement, which broadcast a video of the dispute, said that the situation on the ground would change in the wake of the cessation of the security coordination.
Palestinian sources stressed that its decision to halt coordination would not mean that the security in the West Bank would no longer be under control.
“The Palestinian leadership, instead, will focus on enforcing the rule of law in favor of the Palestinian state,” the sources emphasized.
In Israel, the former commander of the Israeli forces, General Gadi Shamni, warned of the consequences of stopping coordination.
In an interview with the Israeli army radio on Friday, he said that “cooperation with the Palestinian Authority is essential to thwart terrorism, and without it, there is a risk of escalation of armed operations and clashes.”
Meanwhile in Washington, a group of 18 Democratic senators addressed a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz, warning against the consequences of unilateral annexation of West Bank lands.
The senators expressed “grave concern” over the Israeli government’s agreement “to consider unilateral annexation of Palestinian territory as early as this July.”
They stated that such move would hinder a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.