Israel has assessed that an Iranian-sponsored insurgency group has taken over the northern West Bank.

The Israel Security Agency has determined that Islamic Jihad has imposed control over large parts of the northern West Bank. The agency concluded that Jihad has been operating in areas evacuated by the Israel Army in September 2005.

“The area of northern Samaria has become Jihad land,” ISA director Yuval Diskin said.

On Tuesday, Diskin told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Jihad has used the northern West Bank for arms smuggling, training and the production of rockets. Diskin said Jihad increased its activity in wake of the Israeli withdrawal from the area in 2005 and the dismantling of four Jewish communities.

“I’d like to remind the panel that we opposed the withdrawal,” Diskin said.

Officials said Jihad has become the leading insurgency group in the northern West Bank. They said Iran and Hizbullah have poured millions of dollars for an infrastructure to abduct Israelis and send suicide bombers into the Jewish state.

The Israeli withdrawal from the northern West Bank has also damaged the intelligence capability of the ISA and military, officials said. Diskin said Israel’s presence in the area has been virtually nil.

The ISA has expressed opposition to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s plan for a unilateral withdrawal from 97 percent of the West Bank. In August, Olmert said he was suspending the plan to focus on rebuilding northern Israel in the aftermath of Hizbullah rocket strikes.

Diskin said Jihad and other Palestinian insurgency groups have sought to follow Hizbullah’s model in southern Lebanon. He said Palestinian insurgents have focused on smuggling rockets and missiles from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula to the Gaza Strip.

Over the last few months, Diskin said, the Palestinians smuggled 15,000 rifles, 2,300 pistols, 15 tons of TNT, four million munitions rounds, 15 Grad BM-21 rockets, 400 rocket-propelled grenades, 65 anti-tank missiles and dozens of anti-aircraft missiles. He said Jihad and other groups have sought to transfer weapons and plans from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank.

“At this point, anybody who wants to smuggle something through the Philadelphi route [Egypt-Gaza border] can apparently do so,” Diskin said. “You can smuggle anything through Philadelphi except maybe a tank or plane.”

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.