The Palestinian Authority has received armored vehicles and arms intended to bolster its ability to confront armed groups and gangs, according to Palestinian Arabic-language media reports.
“Monday evening, the Palestinian Authority received via Jordan a group of armored vehicles and weapons to support the Palestinian security services, especially the ‘Preventive Security’ and ‘National Security’ services, as well as police,” Jerusalem-based Al-Quds newspaper reported.
The new vehicles and arms are supposed to be used for law enforcement, as the PA has seen a breakdown in its ability to control areas of the West Bank, particularly Jenin and other hotspots, the report said.
Iranian-backed terrorist groups, such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad, have exploited this to increase attacks on Israel, with PIJ in particular often parading M-4 and M-16-style rifles. Armed groups have also fired rockets and rolled out new explosive devices, leading to an unprecedented level of violence over the past year. Israel has accused Iran of being behind weapons smuggling.
Recent escalations in the West Bank, and the US's involvement
In July, Israel launched a two-day operation inside Jenin, the largest it has carried out since the Second Intifada, using bulldozers and drones, as the PA said it wants to reassert control. The US has encouraged the PA to crack down on the increased lawlessness.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken encouraged PA President Mahmoud Abbas “to accept and implement a security plan” drafted by US security coordinator Michael Fenzel, Axios reported in February.
“The armored vehicles were obtained by the authority from the American side through the Jordanian mediator,” Al-Quds reported, adding that the goal is to strengthen “the capabilities of the Palestinian security services in confronting the Palestinian armed cells stationed in Jenin and the city of Nablus.”
Hussein al-Sheikh, secretary-general of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, is mentioned in the report. Sheikh said the PA is unable to confront the armed groups in Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm, it said.
“The sources indicated that the American side understood the demands of the authority in this regard and worked to provide it with the necessary equipment, whether armored vehicles or modern automatic weapons equipped with laser [sights] for use in raids and clashes with armed cells, especially in Jenin, which is considered the fiercest governorate in the confrontation, specifically the camp that includes experienced fighters,” the report said.
On Sunday, “Al-Sheikh held a meeting with Ayman al-Safadi, [who is] the Jordanian deputy prime minister and the foreign affairs and expatriate affairs minister,” it added. “Sources confirmed to Al-Quds that it comes within the framework of new arrangements in the region and that Jordan is a key partner in them.”
While other Palestinian media outlets quoted the Al-Quds report, Wafa, also known as the Palestine News Agency, did not mention it as of press time.
In the past, the PA security forces were trained in Jordan in a program backed by the United States Security Coordinator (USSC). US Gen. Keith Dayton played a key role in this program at first, and it has since been through several US coordinators. PA forces were trained in battalion-sized groups and were lightly armed.
In recent years, terrorist groups in the West Bank have received smuggled weapons, including modern M-4s with new sights and accessories that usually make them better armed than the PA security forces.