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As violence in West Bank increases, IDF permits use of armed drones

U.S. Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield equates ‘terrorist attacks and incitement to violence against Israelis’ with Israel’s ‘plans to develop Har Gilo’ neighborhoods

Illustrative: Israeli-made drone, Heron-1 (Photo: Israel Aerospace Industries)

As the security situation deteriorates in Judea and Samaria, the Israel Defense Forces will begin to use armed drones to target and kill terrorists in the region.

Terrorists have killed 20 Israeli civilians in attacks this year alone and attacks are taking place on a daily basis. On Sunday, Palestinians shot at an Israeli bus in the morning and on a civilian vehicle later in the day.

Israel’s efforts to curb the violence include a military response named “Operation Breakwater,” which has led to the deaths of 100 Arabs in Judea and Samaria, including those responsible for the terror attacks inside Israel and others suspected of planning attacks.

As violence in the region has increased significantly in recent months and weeks, it is believed that giving permission to use armed drones is an attempt to de-escalate the situation; fear of a drone strike might serve as a deterrent to would-be terrorists and warmongers. 

Acts of violence against Israeli soldiers have multiplied, especially in the northern cities of Nablus and Jenin in Samaria. 

On Wednesday, IDF troops were met with heavy gunfire when they entered Jenin’s refugee camp to arrest Abd al-Rahman Hazem, the brother of the terrorist who killed three civilians on Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street in April, and who himself was known to be planning “more significant attacks in the near future.”

During the military operation to secure the arrests of Hazem and three other suspects, the occupants of the house reportedly set off a large bomb as the soldiers entered. The exchange of gunfire left four dead and 44 injured. 

Already this year, Israel's internal security service has prevented more than 300 significant terrorist attacks, stabbings, shootings and suicide attacks, making 2,110 arrests, according to Shin Bet Director Ronen Bar.

On Thursday, Israel’s Public Security Minister Omer Barlev said that while “no one has an interest in launching a large-scale operation,” should the situation continue to deteriorate, “it can happen.” 

Israel is “making targeted efforts and countermeasures” in an attempt to prevent such a scenario, Barlev said. “The possibility that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad could join in from the Gaza Strip should we launch an operation will not deter us.”

Israel has used armed drones since 2008 to eliminate Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists in Gaza.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration expressed its concern about the security situation in Judea and Samaria no less than three times on separate occasions last week at the U.S. State Department, the United Nations and the White House.

In his press briefing, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States is “deeply concerned.” 

“We call on all parties to do everything in their power to de-escalate the situation and return to a period of calm. This is in the interest of all Israelis and Palestinians. As we have said for some time, we call on the parties themselves to contain the violence,” Price said. “The United States and other international partners stand ready to help but we cannot substitute for vital actions by the parties to mitigate conflict and to restore calm.”

During the U.N. Security Council’s monthly session on the Arab-Israeli conflict on Wednesday, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield made similar comments, but equating the ongoing violence and clashes between Arabs and IDF forces in Jenin and Nablus with Israel’s plans to build more housing for Jews in the eastern stretches of Jerusalem.

“We are troubled by the overall trend of growing violence,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “This includes terrorist attacks and incitement to violence against Israelis. This includes plans to develop Har Gilo west, which would further fragment the West Bank – and possible demolitions in Masafer Yatta,” which is partially positioned in an IDF firing zone. 

“And this includes violence inflicted by Israeli settlers on Palestinians in their neighborhoods, and in some cases escorted by Israeli security forces,” added.

The U.S. ambassador also appealed to the Palestinian Authority to “respect human rights” and stop paying terrorists.

“A strong and legitimate P.A. is in the interest of the entire region,” she said.

Also on Wednesday, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, during a meeting with his visiting Israeli counterpart Dr. Eyal Hulata, “stressed the need to take steps to de-escalate tensions in the West Bank, and to continue to take steps to improve the lives of Palestinians.”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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