Israeli authorities have said that the name of the Israeli-Palestinian Authority’s (PA) government phones will be removed from internet services as part of an effort to limit terrorist activity, and the Israeli authorities will replace them with official phones.

The new policy comes as the government seeks to reduce the number of Palestinian militants in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, a campaign that was launched in the aftermath of the November 15 killing of two Israeli teenagers, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel.

The IDF has also announced the closure of the al-Buraq junction, the main crossing point for the Palestinians between the West Bank city of Bethlehem and the Gaza Strip city of Khan Yunis, which was used by several Palestinian terrorist groups.

The Israeli army also said it would start removing Palestinians from occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem. 

The PA is an international organization of which Israel is a member. 

However, the new policy will not affect the existing PA phone systems, which are used by the Israeli government and its military forces. 

“The name of PA phones in the country will be changed,” the ministry of communications said in a statement. 

Israel has been criticized for its treatment of Palestinians and its handling of the conflict.

Israel has demolished nearly 700 Palestinian homes in the West Wall and East Jerusalem, including hundreds of homes belonging to Palestinians, and has demolished thousands of Palestinian properties in the Gaza strip, in addition to other demolitions.

Israel also maintains the wall along the Gaza border, which it has erected to stop Hamas fighters from entering Israel, and its occupation of the Westbank, including in East Jerusalem and the al-‘Aqsa mosque compound, which is revered by Jews as the Temple Mount. 

In a separate statement, Israel’s Shin Bet security agency said it had “dismantled the PA phones, as part to prevent terrorists from using them to conduct terror attacks”. 

The Shin Bet said it targeted PA phones for “unnecessary” monitoring, including phones used by “terrorist cells, which have not been registered” with the ministry and that the ministry’s decision was “unlawful and unjustified”. 

Israel is the only country in the Middle East that uses the term “state” for the Palestinian Authority, which has been recognised by the United Nations as a non-member state.

The PA, however, is recognised by Israel as a full member state. 

Netanyahu said the decision to replace the PA’s phones was aimed at combating terrorism and stopping terrorist activities. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem November 21, 2017.

REUTERS/Baz Ratner/Pool

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