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With Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange finished, attention turns to security

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Security cooperation

Cooperation between the IDF and the PA is at an unprecedented level since the US began in 2007 overseeing reform of the Palestinian Authority's security forces, which have focused on tracking down Hamas activists and civil society organizations affiliated with the militant group. Keeping a lid on Hamas activity will be critical after the release.

"For their own survival [the PA] needs to keep a heavy hand on Hamas," says Yossi Alpher, the co-editor of Bitterlemons, an online Israeli-Palestinian opinion forum.

However, Hamas is very popular right now among Palestinians, even those in the West Bank, for securing the freedom of the 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, which puts the PA forces in a tough spot.

"It's conceivable there will be a wave of popular support for Hamas, and the security forces will be reluctant to intervene,’’ Mr. Alpher says. "Is it manageable or could it get get out of hand? It’s difficult to predict what is going to happen here."

He added that ever since the announcement of a reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah, which was never implemented, the PA security forces have been more lenient.

Concern behind the separation wall

The number of wanted militants has been whittled down significantly in recent years, according to Israeli military officials. In the days since the announcement of the deal, security officials have agreed with Netanyahu's assessment that the risk of releasing the prisoners is a manageable one.

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