U.S. President Barack Obama is today visiting the West Bank town of Ramallah, where the Palestinian Authority government is housed. The visit is meant to highlights the president’s commitment to the two-state solution and creation of a Palestinian state, but for PA officials – who already had low expectations for the visit – the smiles and glad-handing from the President’s visit the day before to Israel left and will leave a lingering odor.
A peek at the comments on articles in the Palestinian press and on web forums demonstrates just how much trust Obama has lost among Palestinians. According to them, the president has thrown in his lot with the Israelis. Again and again comments refer to the expressions of mutual affection between Netanyahu and Obama, to the shedding of jackets, to Obama’s visit to Herzl’s grave and not to Yasser Arafat’s.
Meanwhile the security situation is growing more unstable. Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces have cracked down on Hamas prisoners who had been planning terror attacks in the West Bank. The operatives had been freed in the exchange that secured the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
PA security officials told The Tower that Hamas has recently created a special team in Gaza composed entirely of operatives who had been freed in the swap. Originating from the West Bank, they boast being intimately familiar with its territory and with fellow terror operatives based there.
This week PA security forces also detained a five-member cell from the village of Surif – between Bethlehem and Hebron in the southern West Bank – planning bomb attacks and kidnappings.
Over the last month, members of the Palestinian National Security Forces (PNSF) have detained five Hamas cells planning bomb attacks and kidnappings against Israeli soldiers and civilians. Yesterday they detained a member of the Preventive Security Force – a subgroup of the PNSF – suspected of carrying out a shooting attack Monday near Kedumim. Security forces also discovered an in-home laboratory with 20 kilograms of explosives.
[Photo: Michael.Loadenthal / Flickr]