IDF Return to Shechem

The US has showcased Shechem as an example of how the PA controls terror, but the IDF had to return to the area to capture a senior terrrorist.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu , | updated: 06:46

Nighttime operations
Nighttime operations
Israel News Photo: IDF Spokesperson

The IDF returned to Shechem and carried out a major counterterrorist maneuver that the Palestinian Authority’s fledgling army, trained by U.S. military officers, was supposed to have been responsible for. The Tuesday night counterterrorist operation nabbed an Islamic Jihad operative wanted for several years for planning two suicide attacks and for attacking soldiers.

The suspect, Zalach Mahmad Zalach Buchari, was responsible for planning a suicide bombing in the Tel Aviv central bus station in January 2002, in which 28 people were wounded. A second suicide attack was foiled by security forces at the last minute. He also planned to abduct soldiers and has been hiding in Shechem for seven years.

According to its agreements with Israel, the PA is responsible for eliminating the terrorist infrastructure in Shechem, as well as other large Arab cities in Judea and Samaria. The IDF action Tuesday night bore out frequent military officers’ statements that the success of the PA forces in maintaining law and order is dependent on the IDF.

They have warned that if the IDF were to totally abandon the area, terrorists would regain the upper hand. "We see progress, but we won't give them full control of the cities. They're not capable of fighting Hamas and Islamic Jihad," a senior IDF officer, coordinating between General Keith Dayton and the PA, recently told TIME magazine.

Dayton admonished
The United States has frequently showcased Shechem as an example of the ability of the PA forces to overcome terror. The PA army, termed “police” by the U.S. government, was trained by Dayton. The US general was reportedly recently admonished by PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and told to lower his profile concerning the American-trained forces.

Dayton earlier this year said that the PA police-military unit will fall apart if progress is not made towards establishing the PA as a country. A deeper threat is the possibility of the PA itself collapsing if and when PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas carries out his vow to leave office. “The collapse of the Palestinian Authority could spell the end of Dayton's painstaking efforts to create a security force that can enforce law in the West Bank and stop militants from launching attacks on Israel and its settlers, TIME recently reported.