When worshippers in a Jaffa synagogue read from the Torah this Shabbat, they will have Palestinian police to thank.
Last Thursday, scrolls were stolen causing shock in the community, but this week they were returned after Palestinian Authority officers found them.
“Today, thanks to coordination between the Hebron District Coordination Liaison, Israel’s Police and the PA Police, the scrolls were returned,” the Israeli military announced on Sunday.
Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said: “Five Torah scrolls were stolen from a synagogue in Jaffa and information we received made us think they were in Palestinian Authority areas.
“We transferred the information to PA, and the scrolls were found, handed over to the IDF, and then transferred back to Israel.”
They are now back in the ark at Jaffa’s Beit David synagogue.
Mr Rosenfeld said that Palestinian police were helpful in the operation, and that cooperation happens continually — albeit on more run-of-the-mill crimes.
“We deal together with traffic issues, criminal issues, and drugs. This case with the Torah scrolls was also an area for cooperation, and it worked out for the best.”
The scrolls had been taken to Hebron, where Palestinian police seized them. Officers are now building a case against the people who were holding them.
Mr Rosenfeld said he believes that they were headed for sale as antiques, or on the black market.
Israeli-Palestinian coordination on security and criminal activity is strong, despite diplomatic tensions. When Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas cut contacts with Israel during this summer’s Temple Mount dispute, coordination between police forces continued unscathed.
“Even when it was stopped or cut or frozen or whatever, that did not apply to the police,” PA police chief Hazem Atalla said earlier this month.
“We don’t work for politics, we work for people.”