NABLUS, West Bank – Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad warned on Wednesday that Israeli military operations in the West Bank were hampering his administration's effort to improve security in the territory.
Late Wednesday Israeli forces shot and killed a wanted militant as he tried to escape arrest in Kufr Dan, near Nablus, Army Radio reported. Palestinians said another suspected militant was arrested. The military had no immediate comment.
Earlier in the day, Israeli troops raided the city hall of the West Bank city of Nablus, confiscating five computers in what appeared to be part of an ongoing crackdown on institutions Israel thinks are linked to Hamas. This week, troops have raided and shut down various Nablus facilities with links to Hamas.
The operations "undermine grossly our efforts aimed at rebuilding our capacity and re-establishing law and order," Fayyad told a news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah with Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini.
A strong Palestinian security presence in the West Bank is an integral part of peace talks between Israel and Fayyad's West Bank government that resumed last year. Israel is reluctant to rely on a recently beefed-up Palestinian police force to head off attacks on Israel or prevent Hamas from seizing control of the West Bank, as it did the Gaza Strip last year.
The peace talks aim to set up a Palestinian state that would include most of the West Bank. Israel captured the territory in 1967 but has expressed willingness to transfer much of the territory to Palestinian control.
In the Nablus operation, troops also raided six mosques and seized five buses belonging to schools close to the Islamic Hamas, said Nablus' deputy mayor Hafez Shaheen. Nablus' mayor, Adli Yaish, is a Hamas politician who has been imprisoned by Israel.
Also Wednesday, an Israeli human rights group charged that Israel has not changed the course of its West Bank separation barrier, in defiance of rulings from Israel's Supreme Court.
B'Tselem said the government has not implemented three Supreme Court orders to change the route of the barrier. One of those rulings is three years old.
Defense Ministry spokesman Shlomo Dror said budgetary problems have delayed the changes.
Israel rejected an advisory ruling by the International Court of Justice in The Hague, demanding it dismantle parts of the barrier that jut into the West Bank. Wednesday was the fourth anniversary of the ruling.
Israel says it needs the barrier to keep Palestinian attackers out. Palestinians charge it cuts off land they want for a state.
On Wednesday, Palestinians threw rocks and tried to smash a bulldozer being used to carve the barrier's route through farmland belonging to the West Bank town of Naalin, beating a civilian worker, the military said. Israeli soldiers fired tear gas and rubber bullets at the protesters. Three were arrested.
Naalin has been the scene of almost daily protests against the barrier by Palestinians and international backers. The military declared it a closed military zone, banning demonstrations.