ISA Head Diskin: Some Jerusalem Arab Areas Are De Facto PA
While overall terrorist activity dropped in 2010, it remained high in Israel's capital city of Jerusalem and the surrounding area, Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) head Yuval Diskin said Tuesday at a meeting of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
Israel has lost hands-on control over several Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem, and they are is in effect a PA region, Diskin said, despite the fact that residents carry blue Israeli ID cards. That is true in particular for the areas east of the Jerusalem separation/security barrier, he added.
Some of these neighborhoods are turning into lawless regions in which terrorists and PA Arabs who have illegally entered Jerusalem take refuge, Diskin said, adding that illegal building in those neighborhoods is rampant.
Terror Up in 1949 Israel
More Arab citizens of Israel were found to be involved in terrorism over the past year than before, Diskin said, with 46 arrested in 2010 compared with 24 in 2009. However, he added, many of the arrests were connected to the discovery of a single terrorist cell in Nazareth and did not necessarily indicate a larger trend.
Terrorism remains outside the Israeli Arab consensus, but Israel must be careful, he continued. A failure to deal with increasing violence and illegal weapons trade in the Israeli Arab sector now could lead to terrorism becoming more frequent even in longtime, established Israeli Arab communities.
The Shin Bet is not allowed to fight the trade in weapons within the 1949 armistice line demarcation of Israel. According to court rulings, enforcement of weapons laws within this territory is the sole responsibility of the police.
Warning: Terrorists Seek Base in Sinai
Diskin also warned that terrorists see the Sinai Peninsula as a preferred base of activities. “The level of Egyptian governance in the Sinai is very low,” he said, leaving the region vulnerable to a rise in terrorism.
He criticized Egyptian authorities for doing too little to fight terrorism. “Their shared border with Gaza is 14 kilometers long... If they wanted to, they could end smuggling in 24-48 hours.” Instead, he said, “the Egyptians are determined to prevent [smuggling] only when there is a significant threat to Egyptian national security, and even then, there are just pinpoint operations.”
More than 400 Jewish-Arab Clashes
Diskin also revealed data on the extent of clashes between Jews and PA Arabs in Judea and Samaria. On more than 400 occasions, vandalism and fighting involved Jews and Arabs. Sixteen of those, he claimed, were acts of more serious vandalism, such as arson, associated with the “Price Tag” activists – a group seeking to fight both PA terrorism and the destruction of Jewish homes by forcing the PA and the IDF to “pay the price” for any such actions.