TEL AVIV – The Israel Defense Forces on Monday arrested 11 Palestinians in the West Bank city of Nablus and the surrounding refugee camps on suspicion of illegal possession of firearms. This is the latest in a series of measures taken against the territory’s militants and came one day after Hamas operatives were arrested for masterminding a bus attack in Jerusalem last month in which 19 Israelis were injured.
At least nine of the 11 arrested on Monday are affiliated with Fatah, President Mahmoud Abbas’ movement, a Palestinian Authority security officer told Breitbart Jerusalem.
The officer said it wasn’t clear whether the militants were planning to use the weapons to attack Israelis or rival armed factions.
But he said that Hamas and Iran-backed Hezbollah efforts to recruit young Palestinians, mainly Fatah members, from the Nablus area have increased.
“We informed Israelis of our actions to foil the formation of any kind of militia in the West Bank, whether it plans to attack the Palestinian Authority or Israel,” the officer said. “Sometimes they make do with our operations, and sometimes, like last night, they carry out their own.”
The Israeli troops encircled the city of Nablus, the surrounding refugee camps, and the nearby village of Salem.
In March, a senior Palestinian security source told Breitbart Jerusalem that the ongoing violence in the West Bank, combined with recent initiatives by Iran and its proxy terrorist group Hezbollah, may motivate Fatah members to resume their armed struggle against Israel.
The source said at the time that members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, an armed group loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas, are contemplating the possibility of carrying out shooting attacks and planting bombs.
“A few activists from Ramallah, Nablus, and Jenin were summoned for interviews [with the security services],” the source said. “Two of them have been detained.”
Despite the security forces’ firm hand, the source said, “an escalation in violence is likely given the Palestinians’ financial distress, the absence of a diplomatic horizon, and prodding rhetoric by foreign players such as Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, Hezbollah, and even Hamas in Gaza.”
These “foreign players,” he said, are seeking to pressure the biggest movement in the Palestinian territories into a conflict with Israel.