Police prepared for election next week

More than 22,000 police, soldiers will deploy to keep order, prevent attacks.

By YIGAL GRAYEFF
March 20, 2006 21:11
2 minute read.
border police 88

border police 88. (photo credit: )

 
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More than 22,000 members of the security forces will be deployed across the country on Election Day next Tuesday to prevent terrorist attacks and maintain public order. After three months of planning, Police chief Insp.-Gen. Moshe Karadi presented the force's election arrangements on Monday, saying that the poll is taking place against a backdrop of a heightened security situation. "The coming period is a very tense one in which terrorist organizations will come and try to carry out an attack," he said. "We are organizing in a very big way in an attempt to prevent an attack."

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Brigadier-General Aharon Ezra, the head of the National Election Management, said a variety of factors contributed to the taut atmosphere. "The results of the elections in the Palestinian Authority and Hamas entering the government have created uncertainty in political, security and other processes," Ezra said. "The charged and tense atmosphere following the disengagement from Gaza and the evacuation of illegal outposts raises the fear of confrontations of varying levels," he added. Ezra also said there has been an increase in warnings about terrorist attacks, although police had received no concrete information. Nevertheless, security forces will raise the alert levels to the highest possible on Election Day and will enforce a closure on the Palestinian territories. Around 15,000 policemen, 1,600 soldiers, 4,000 security guards and 3,300 volunteers will spread out across the country in order to protect 9,774 polling booths in 18 voting districts. In addition, police will also guard party headquarters and areas where people congregate, while border police and volunteers will carry out intra-city patrols. Police will concentrate extra forces in "sensitive areas," with a particular focus on the haredi and Arab sectors, said Karadi, adding that sensitive areas are those in which there have been attempts to disturb the public order or to carry out corruption in previous elections. Ezra said there could be increased attempts at voter forgery, as the 5.02 million people who are registered will be able identify themselves at polling stations using not only their ID cards, but also documents such as driving licenses and passports. So far, the police have received 37 complaints about criminal activity in connection to the election, although this is well below the 119 recorded in the 2003 vote. Of this year's complaints, 13 are for corruption and forgery while the others are for offenses such as violence, vandalism and illegal propaganda.

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