The West Bank's police chief on Wednesday sent a stern warning to the incoming Hamas government, telling the Islamic group not to "mess" with his forces.
Brig. Gen.Tarek Zeid said Hamas won't be able to fire any of his men, and said the new government will only be able to function if it ensures the cooperation of the police.
However, European security advisers say the 19,000-strong police force is ripe for an overhaul. They said the Islamist government might take necessary steps to shrink the bloated force and inject some of its own men.
Zeid, speaking at an opening ceremony for the refurbished Jericho police academy, stopped short of threatening a mutiny against Hamas, but made it clear the group should tread lightly in dealing with his force.
"I will not lose any of my sons," he said. "These institutions must be protected. And anyone who tries to mess with them will not serve the nation."
Zeid's oversees a force of 6,600 men. An additional 12,000 police are deployed in the Gaza Strip.