jericho prison smoke ap .
(photo credit: AP)
Crime in the West Bank was up 60 percent in 2006, the Palestinian police chief said Monday, blaming growing poverty and increasingly brazen militants.
Coordination problems with Israel are hampering crime-fighting, said the West Bank chief, Col. Adnan Aldameri. Israel still controls large areas of the West Bank, and Palestinian police have to coordinate to move from place to place, a time-consuming process that often slows down the hunt for suspects, Aldameri said.
About 20,000 regular police patrol in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but only 7.5% have weapons, said the West Bank chief, Col. Adnan Aldameri. Ammunition is also scarce, with the price of bullets for Kalashnikov assault rifle driven up by an arms race between the rival Hamas and Fatah movements.
Gunmen from the different factions have far more firepower than the police, Aldameri said. "Their members are moving around with their rifles, and the police can't stand up to them," the chief said of the militants, adding that it's up to the factions to bring the gunmen under control.
The chief also said that the prisons are overflowing. Some of the West Bank prisons were destroyed by Israel in more than six years of fighting, and some of the 600 prisoners are being held in apartments and storefronts rented by police, he said.
He said police received 16,672 complaints about crimes in 2006. Of those, more than 2,200 were robberies and 564 involved drug possession or trafficking. He said police also retrieved more than 1,000 stolen cars.