Mounting Evidence of the PA’s Security Services Clashing With IDF Troops in the West Bank

Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades Militants. (Photo by JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP) (Photo by JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP via Getty Images)

Since last year, IDF troops have increasingly engaged in armed clashes with members of the Palestinian Authority Security Services (PSS) in the West Bank. In some cases, PSS members belonged to militant organizations.

The trend began in June 2021 when two members of the PA’s military intelligence, Adham Tawfiq and Tayseer Issa, were killed after they fired at Israeli special forces who were attempting to arrest Jamil al-Amouri, a member of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in Jenin.

In May 2022, IDF troops arrested an officer of the PA’s Palestinian Preventative Corps during an anti-terrorism raid near Jenin. Three months later, Israeli forces arrested a member of the PA’s customs police after a lengthy armed clash in the town of Rujeib, near the city of Nablus. 

In late July, a Palestinian police officer named Mahmoud Hujeer, fired at Israeli troops at the Huwarra checkpoint in the West Bank. Hujeer was arrested after he was critically injured during the attack.

Other examples involve militants and their supporters working for the PSS. In May, Dawood Zubeidi, a member of the PSS, was shot and wounded in Jenin by Israeli forces during an anti-terrorism raid. He later died in an Israeli hospital and was lauded by al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades as a commander belonging to the organization.  

Lastly, Fathi Hazzem, an officer in the PSS, launched an incitement campaign shortly after his son committed a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv earlier this year.

The evidence suggests the PA is ostensibly losing control of its security services. While the number of PSS members launching attacks against IDF troops has not reached the level of the second intifada, the upward trend should be noted. Adding to the PA’s problems is the erosion of its authority in pockets of the West Bank.

PIJ, Hamas and other militant organizations have taken advantage of the absence of the PA’s presence by expanding its influence in areas such as Jenin, Tubas, Tulkarm, Nablus and other cities. [See FDD’s Long War Journal: Palestinian Islamic Jihad Purportedly Establishes New Formation in the West Bank]

In late August, a purported new militant organization called Lion’s Den was established in the West Bank. The organization has claimed at least one attack against IDF troops in the West Bank. On Thursday, a terrorist attack was foiled when a Palestinian from Nablus was arrested in Tel Aviv. Israeli police found a rifle, pipe bombs and a flag of the Lion’s Den organization inside a bag the attacker was carrying.

Joe Truzman is an editor and senior research analyst at FDD's Long War Journal focused primarily on Palestinian armed groups and non-state actors in the Middle East.

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