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Friday, November 19, 2010     FOR YOUR EYES ONLY

Israel turns Nablus over to Palestinian security

RAMALLAH — Israel's military has relayed security responsibility over the largest city in the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority.


Military sources said Central Command has approved a PA plan for full security responsibility over the northern West Bank city of Nablus. They said PA security forces would be allowed to operate 24 hours a day in Nablus, which contains a major Hamas presence.

"This would require greater coordination with Palestinian forces," a military source said. "It's a major test of our cooperation."

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The sources said the Nablus plan was coordinated and implemented with the United States, which has been training PA security forces. They said U.S. diplomats and officers were helping facilitate PA patrols and equipment acquisition.

Until late 2010, PA security forces were required to end operations at 1 a.m. daily. The sources said this enabled frequent Israel Army raids of Nablus in search of suspected Hamas insurgents.

The sources said Israel has insisted on its right to continue counter-insurgency operations in Nablus. They said Israel has pledged to coordinate all operations in Nablus with PA commanders.

Nablus has been deemed a major stronghold of Hamas as well as Fatah-aligned criminal gangs. The sources said the northern city was deemed calm over the last year.

On Nov. 17, the PA said Hamas had plotted to kill Nablus Gov. Jibrin Al Bakri. The plot was said to have been halted by PA raids of Hamas strongholds in the Nablus area, which resulted in arrests and seizure of cash.

"Hamas should take full responsibility for this assassination plot against the governor of Nablus," Fatah spokesman Ahmed Assaf said.

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