Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

BUSINESS DAILY

Davos 2015: Businesses 'cautiously optimistic' in Japan

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Twitter storm as IMF boss Christine Lagarde hails Saudi King Abdullah as 'strong advocate of women'

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

DR CONGO: Senate amends controversial constitutional law

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Pope Family Planning: Heated Debate over Pontiff's 'Rabbit' Comments (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Saudi King Abdullah Dies: Succession, Stability and Youth in Question (part 1)

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

France tackles terror

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

Jean-Pascal Tricoire, CEO of Schneider Electric: 'France is on a better track'

Read more

DEBATE

Davos debate: Can big business agree on climate deal? (part 2)

Read more

#THE 51%

Chile's abortion debate

Read more

Middle east

Israel concerned over rise of radical Salafist group

Text by HAARETZ

Latest update : 2013-11-27

The rise of a radical Salafist group with suspected links to al Qaeda is raising concern in Israel after security forces recently clashed with the armed group in the West Bank.

The skirmish in the South Hebron Hills late Tuesday was the first time the Israeli security forces had confronted a third armed presence in the West Bank – not the Palestinian Authority or Fatah and not Hamas, either, but a radical Salafist Islamic group operating independently of the established organizations. The killing of three wanted men from the cell was preceded by a round of arrests in the Hebron and Nablus areas. There have been similar clashes between Salafist operatives and the Palestinian security forces in recent months.

The presence of the Salafis, most of whom are not violent, is now being felt in the West Bank, nearly a decade after they established themselves in the Gaza Strip. Last year, saw a rise in their organized operations, most of which are not political and do not involve terror activity. In East Jerusalem, in particular, one stream called Hizb a-Tahrir stands out, though its activities aren’t violent. Still, there have recently been large assemblies of Salafist groups at several locations in the West Bank, including in the Hebron area. “Suddenly, from nowhere, you hear that 30,000 people are attending a gathering at the stadium in the South Hebron Hills,” a senior military official told Haaretz.

The rise in popularity of the Salafis in the West Bank is apparently the result of disappointment with the PA and the difficulties that Hamas, which is being pressured by both the PA and Israel, is having in presenting a viable, stable alternative. On the margins of the Salafist movements, there is a violent jihadist arm under the influence of al-Qaida’s violent ideology, which has already manifested itself in cells in the Gaza Strip. One can assume that the increased activity of factions with similar ideologies, both in the Sinai Peninsula and especially in the murderous Syrian civil war, strengthens support for them in the West Bank.

Last week, the Shin Bet Security Service arrested five members of one such armed squad in villages in the Hebron region and in a village near Nablus. The detainees, like the two men killed on Tuesday, are in their late twenties and have no previous record of security offenses or membership in a terror organization; nor had they done any time in Israeli prisons. From the moment they appeared on the Shin Bet’s radar screen, two elite units were activated – the Border Police SWAT team and the Shin Bet’s special operations unit - with the Israel Defense Forces operating in the outer circles. The army said that the two killed were considered the heads of the cell and were carrying pistols. Two explosive devices were found in the car they’d been traveling in. The border policemen fired first at the car, but as of last night it still wasn’t clear whether there had been an exchange of fire.

According to the Shin Bet, the terror squad members were preparing explosive charges and kidnapping attacks targeting both Israelis and people associated with the PA. The cell prepared hideouts, acquired weapons and manufactured explosives. Additional members of the cell were still being hunted down on Tuesday.

The IDF officer who oversaw Tuesday’s operation, Judea and Samaria Forces commander Brig. Gen. Tamir Yadai, was wounded in same area around Hebron 14 years ago, in a clash with a Hamas terrorist in which a border policeman was killed.

© Read premium content from leading Israeli daily Haaretz on FRANCE 24

Date created : 2013-11-27

  • ISRAEL-PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

    Israel strikes north Gaza after rocket fire

    Read more

  • ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT

    Israeli forces kill Palestinian militant in West Bank

    Read more

  • HAARETZ

    Israeli court halts construction on section of West Bank barrier

    Read more

COMMENT(S)