Israeli army reoccupies Tulkarem in West Bank

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Reacting to the suicide bombing yesterday in a Netanya mall, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) entered the city of Tulkarem. The city has been governed by the Palestinian Authority (PA), since March 22nd this year.

In addition, a general closure was ordered on the occupied territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The closure will hold until the assessment of the situation changes, according to the IDF.

The IDF ordered a curfew on Tulkarem at the beginning of the operation, at 2:30 a.m. (+3 UTC), Palestinians reported. Soldiers announced in loudspeakers that the city was under curfew and that all local residents were to remain inside their homes.

One Palestinian policeman was killed and one was injured, as well as two Israeli soldiers, when the Israeli forces came under fire while entering the city, according to the IDF spokesperson.

The IDF arrested five wanted Islamic Jihad members in the city. According to IDF officers, the operation is aimed at the Islamic Jihad organization, which staged the suicide attack in Netanya yesterday, as well as another suicide bombing attempt in a Jewish settlement in Samaria.

The Israeli government asked the PA to arrest the wanted terrorists numerous times, according to high-ranking officers in the IDF.

"The main objective is to locate Islamic Jihad members that operate under the shelter of the PA military responsibility", said Colonel Erez Weiner of the IDF. "We arrested five wanted members, some of whom were involved in the bombing of the Stage nightclub in Tel-Aviv. The forces are also trying to locate the explosives lab that is behind yesterday's car-bomb in Shavey Shomron. Apart from a few minor incidents we did not meet any opposition from the Palestinian side", Colonel Weiner said.

The suicide bombings in Netanya and Shavey Shomron and the reoccupation of Tulkarem follow five months of relative calm in the Israel-PA relations.