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Former head of Shin Bet: annexing Area C will lead to 'bloodbath'

The former head of Israel's Shin Bet security service, Yoram Cohen, warned against Israeli plans to annex Area C in the occupied West Bank. This came after ministers and members of Knesset declared their support for such a move. Cohen said on Thursday that the annexation of the area to Israel would lead to "an unnecessary bloodbath."

"Steps should be taken to reduce the presence of the occupation in Judea and Samaria (West Bank), improve transportation, improve labour, and transfer areas from Area B to Area A," which is entirely under the control of the Palestinian Authority," Cohen added.

As a result of the Oslo II agreement, the West Bank is divided into three areas. Area B is administered by the PA but under Israeli security control. However, Area C, which covers 60 per cent of the West Bank, is under full Israeli control. Earlier this week, the Israeli cabinet approved a plan to establish 6,000 housing units in settlements in this area and 700 housing units for Palestinians.

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Cohen also commented on recent violence at the perimeter around the Gaza Strip, wherein a Hamas fighter Hani Abu Salah was killed and 3 Israeli soldiers were killed. He said: "The state is investing billions in manpower, technology and intelligence to prevent such episodes."

He insisted that launching an Israeli attack against the Gaza Strip in the wake of such an operation could lead to another round in which hundreds of missiles will be fired into the "Gaza airspace." He added that "our deterrence may have been damaged by the fact that we did not want to downgrade to a major battle or a war."

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