Israel lets PA police carry guns in W. Bank [Israel Radio confirms]
By Amos Harel and Arnon Regular, Haaretz Correspondents 15 May 2005
[IMRA: Israel Radio confirmed the report this morning that the Israel is
permitting the deployment of armed police. As indicated by the article,
Israel has agreed to this even though - many announcements and Ze'ev Schiff
notwithstanding - the PA hasn't collected the overwhelming majority of the
weapons of the wanted terrorists.]
Israel has given its approval for the deployment of hundreds of armed
Palestinian Authority police in all West Bank cities to crack down on crime.
According to senior Israeli defense officials, the move is intended to
strengthen the PA ahead of the transfer of additional cities to Palestinian
So far, Jericho and Tul Karm have been transferred to Palestinian control,
with Israel conditioning the transfer of additional cities on the monitoring
of wanted men and the confiscation of weapons.
The personnel, who must be in uniform, are authorized to carry assault
rifles in all cities except Hebron, where they will be limited to small
Meanwhile, the PA Interior Ministry has begun to collect weapons from wanted
Fatah members in Jericho and Tul Karm. The men, most of whom had served in
the Palestinian police or security branches, have begun to report to their
units and sign declarations promising they would not become involved in
terrorism or the sale of weapons or ammunition, and that they would accept
the authority of their superiors. They also pledged not to erase serial
numbers on the weapons, which Israel has in its records.
Between five and ten men reportedly turned in their weapons in Tul Karm out
of a list of 50 wanted men. Forty-seven of the 50 have signed pledges not to
be involved in terror.
A Palestinian source said 17 wanted men in Jericho had also signed the
pledge. None are from Hamas or Islamic Jihad. According to the agreement
between these organizations and the PA that led to the present calm, it will
not collect their weapons.
"There are no scenes of piles of weapons brought in by wanted men, but
rather the acceptance of the wanted men, with their weapons, into the
Palestinian police," a Palestinian source said.
The arming of the PA police is proceeding although the Israel Defense Forces
continues to enter the cities to arrest terror suspects. Israel has told the
PA that when the IDF enters a city, the police should keep to their bases,
and warned that it will not tolerate the use of the weapons against its
forces. IDF soldiers have been issued special rules of engagement to avoid
hitting armed Palestinian police.
"We have no illusions that [the Palestinian police] will prevent terror," an
IDF source said. "Therefore, we are continuing to operate in the cities as
necessary. But an armed presence brings back some law and order, and deters
some of the armed gangs, and that is also important," a senior source said.
The IDF said that although the PA has only partially complied with its road
map obligations, terrorism has clearly declined in the West Bank.