Military says it is cutting back arrest raids to help shore up truce

In an effort to shore up a shaky truce in the Gaza Strip, Israeli military officials said Monday they were reducing their operations in the West Bank and had made it more difficult for field commanders to order arrest raids there.

Although the cease-fire agreement does not yet include the West Bank, Gaza militants have bristled in recent days at the army's continuing arrests of militants there and threatened a wave of reprisal attacks.

Senior military officials said Monday that they had decided to reduce the number of operations in the West Bank in light of government efforts to expand the truce. Now, only regional or division commanders can order the raids, instead of the lower-ranking brigade commanders, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity, because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The army was ordered to take precautions so that "uncalled for incidents don't develop in Judea and Samaria," said senior Labor Party legislator Danny Yatom, a member of parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, referring to the West Bank by its biblical names, reports AP.

"But there is absolutely no Israeli commitment not to take military action against terror threats in Judea and Samaria," Yatom said.

Despite the decision to reduce operations, the army arrested 15 militants across the West Bank between Sunday night and Monday morning, the army said.

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