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Monday, March 14, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Israel concerned Palestinians preparing offensive after brutal murders of family

JERUSALEM — The murder of a Jewish family in the West Bank over the weekend has spurred concerns in Israel over the prospect of a Palestinian offensive.


Officials said the government and military have concluded that the policies of the ruling Fatah movement had encouraged a Palestinian offensive against Jewish communities in the West Bank.

On March 12, five members of a Jewish family were killed in a suspected Palestinian attack in the northern West Bank.

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"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vehemently condemns the murder of an innocent family while it slept," a statement by the prime minister's office said. "The prime minister is demanding of the Palestinian Authority that it halt the incitement in the mosques and via the PA-controlled media."

Officials said one or several Palestinian attackers infiltrated the Jewish community of Itamar near Nablus before dawn, Middle East Newsline reported. The attacker broke into a home and knifed to death both parents as well as three children, including a three-month-old girl.

Over the last day, senior officials from the Defense Ministry and the intelligence community convened to discuss the Palestinian attack, which sparked Jewish retaliation in nearby Palestinian villages. Officials said the Israel Security Agency, responsible for domestic intelligence, was assigned to capture the killers as well as consult with the PA regarding intelligence and other cooperation.

Fatah's Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, believed aligned with PA security officers, has claimed responsibility for the attack. Officials said the killings followed a series of confrontations between Israel's military and PA security forces in the northern West Bank.

Hamas was also believed to be a key player in the Palestinian campaign against Jewish communities in the West Bank. Officials said Hamas has established at least five cells equipped and trained to attack Israeli soldiers and civilians.

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