Daily Israel Report

Israel Set to Withdraw from Key Cities Despite Terror Upsurge

Despite an upsurge in the frequency and severity of terrorist attacks, the IDF is going ahead with plans to transfer control of five key cities in Judea and Samaria to the Palestinian Authority.
First Publish: 3/7/2005, 4:20 PM / Last Update: 3/7/2005, 3:43 PM

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz is scheduled to meet with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in the next few days in order to coordinate the IDF withdrawal. The withdrawal, agreed upon at the Sharon-Abbas summit in Sharm El-Sheik, has been held up due to a terrorist attack on a Tel Aviv night club on February 25, which killed five and wounded 50.

The suicide bomber came from Tulkarem, one of the first cities to be handed over to the PA in according to the withdrawal schedule.

PA reports that the handover will commence as early as tomorrow should be treated with caution, say IDF officials. While not denying the reports, IDF sources said that no withdrawals will take place until after the Mofaz-Abbas meeting. A date for the meeting has yet to be announced.

Haj Ismail Jabber, commander of PA forces in Judea and Samaria, said after meeting with Brig.Gen. Gadi Eizenkot on Sunday, that “it was agreed in principle that the Israeli army will begin Tuesday withdrawing from Tulkarem and the areas around the town, and afterward we will discuss the Israeli withdrawals from the other towns” in Judea and Samaria.

It is unclear how today’s attack at the Ma’arat haMachpelah (Tomb of the Patriarchs) in Hebron will impact the planned withdrawal. According to Hebron residents, the IDF effectively withdrew from 80% of Hebron on February 13 in a redeployment move that was dictated by political, not military interests.

Warnings from the Hebron Jewish community that the IDF withdrawals from parts of the city would precipitate a terrorist attack went unheeded.