PA Demands Control over Ramallah Day after Huge Arms Cache Found
A new Palestinian Authority demand for full military control over the Ramallah area, where IDF patrols have helped cut down terrorism, comes one day after a huge Hamas arms cache was found.
The PA charged that Hamas was planning to use the weapons to attack leaders of the rival Fatah faction, led by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, while Hamas said the arms were to be used against Israel. The cache included bombs, mortar shells, rocket-propelled grenades and guns and was described by PA officials as the “biggest arms depot "to be uncovered in years.
Ramallah is in "Area C," under full PA control, but the IDF often enters the city to hunt down terrorists, a job the PA army seldom tackles unless the terrorists are part of the rival Hamas faction. Ramallah's neighboring Arab areas are in "Area B," officially under Israeli security control but governed by the PA.
Although IDF patrols in the area have helped cut down terror activity to a minimum, the PA says it has been responsible for the improvement and that it now can maintain security without the Israeli forces.
The common enemy of Hamas has fostered cooperation between Israel and the PA, but increasing signs of a desire by Abbas and de facto Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to re-unite political forces may change the situation.
Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria fear that if Israel relinquished security control of the Ramallah region and Fatah hooks up again with Hamas, the IDF will find itself in a situation similar to that in Lebanon and Gaza after military forces withdrew in 2000 and 2005 respectively.