1,800 Palestinians arrested in the last four
months By Amos Harel
During the last four months, Israeli security forces have arrested 1,800 Palestinians suspected of terrorism, with 400 of them arrested so far this month. Among those arrested are some defined by security sources as relatively senior as well as 15 local commanders. Nablus alone saw some 120 Palestinians arrested in the last five weeks, including 11 defined as suicide bombers.
The wave of arrests - and the massive IDF pressure in the territories - has dramatically reduced the number of attacks and Israeli casualties, but a senior military source said yesterday that despite the IDF's efforts, Palestinian organizations display regenerative abilities, and continue trying to attack Israeli targets.
According to the source, last week was typical - a series of attacks was foiled, including a Fatah attempt to infiltrate two suicide bombers in Israel and an Islamic Jihad plan for a shooting spree in an Israeli city.
The security forces are divided over whether Yasser Arafat has control over the terrorist groups, and could halt the terrorism.
In any case, the IDF is now under the impression that many of the attacks are decided upon at the lowest levels - so much so, that the army now refers to the conspirators from the Balata refugee camp as the Balata Terrorist Organization. The source said the Hamas-Fatah dialogue in Cairo has had no effect on the grass-roots level, and indeed, at that level, the terrorist planners scoff at the reports from Egypt about efforts to reach a pan-Palestinian cease-fire.
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz has decided that the army should have control over both sides of the separation fence, and plans to bring that recommendation to the cabinet in the near future. Previously the army favored being responsible for the eastern side of the fence, and leaving the western, Israeli side, in the hands of the police. According to the Mofaz plan, the Border Patrol would be placed subordinate to the army for the purpose, and a unified command and control headquarters would be established for the entire length of the separation fence.