Palestinian security services have been destroying secret documents, fearing possible Israeli raids on their offices as Israel weighs annexing parts of the occupied West Bank, Palestinian security sources say.
“We have been ordered to destroy confidential documents in our possession and we have obeyed this order,” a security source told AFP on condition of anonymity, saying that the instructions came from “high up.”
During the Palestinian uprising known as the Second Intifada, which erupted in the early 2000s and included waves of suicide bombings, Israeli security forces repeatedly stormed offices of the Palestinian security services and removed confidential documents.
Several Palestinian security sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, say the services are concerned that this could happen again if Israel moves ahead with annexation.
More than 450,000 Israelis live in West Bank settlements deemed illegal under international law, alongside 2.7 million Palestinians.
One Palestinian security source, who did not describe the nature of the documents, said the security services began destroying them a month ago after Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas said he was ending security coordination with Israel.
Two other security sources said some documents were destroyed after they were scanned and transferred to USB drives, which were then placed in “secret places.”
According to the 1993 Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority controls all Palestinian cities in the West Bank, but the Israeli military can enter them to make arrests, in coordination with local authorities.
But in mid-May, Abbas declared that he no longer felt bound by the treaties, saying that Israel’s annexation plans showed that it was no longer honoring the agreements.
Analysts said the end of security cooperation could inflame unrest in the West Bank.
Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh recently warned of a “hot summer” if Israel goes ahead with its annexation plan.