Israeli Broadcaster Says Palestinians Bust West Bank Bomber Cell

Israel’s national broadcaster on Tuesday said Palestinian authorities had prevented a bomb attack on Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank, a report suggesting the strength of security ties despite public feuding over a two-month wave of unrest.

Israel Radio said six Islamic Jihad militants from the town of Tubas were in Palestinian custody, accused of filling a gas balloon with explosives in order to blow up a military target, an attack that would have marked a major escalation in violence.

Contacted by Reuters, officials in Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s U.S.-backed administration and Islamic Jihad spokesmen had no immediate comment on the report, which cited unnamed Palestinian sources.

A surge in Palestinian knifings, car-rammings and occasional shootings of Israelis since Oct. 1 has put Abbas in an awkward position as he tries to curb the grassroots violence in West Bank areas under his authority while publicly condemning Israel’s policies.

Israeli forces have killed 97 Palestinians, most of them identified by Israel as assailants. Many Palestinians see their dead as heroes of a struggle for statehood failed by peace diplomacy. Palestinian attacks, usually by individuals lashing out spontaneously, have killed 19 Israelis and an American.

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