600 PA policemen welcomed to Jenin

Palestinians greet new PA policemen with flowers, candies; deployment aims to restore law and order.

pa police 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
pa police 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets of Jenin Saturday to welcome 600 Palestinian Authority policemen who were deployed in the city in a bid to restore law and order. They greeted the policemen with flowers and candies as they entered the city. The decision to deploy the force in Jenin follows similar operations in Nablus and Tulkarm over the past few months. "Our people are desperately in need of law and order," said Gen. Diab Ali, commander of the PA National Security Force in the West Bank. "This is the only way to achieve a state." Addressing the policemen, he added: "You have come to a struggling people who have sacrificed thousands of martyrs and prisoners. But there are a few irresponsible people here and this makes your task clear." The PA commander said the force that entered Jenin was not a hostile party. "The police force came to Jenin to help in imposing law and order," he added. "There will be only one authority and one security force here." Col. Wassim al-Jayoussi, commander of the Jenin Police, called on all residents to hand over illegal weapons. He also called on wanted criminals to surrender to the police, warning that anyone who does not comply would be arrested. He said the security operation would continue until all its goals are achieved. The PA governor of Jenin, Kadoura Musa, also urged everyone to hand over their weapons. He said that as of now only members of the police force would be allowed to carry weapons in public. Jenin residents expressed deep satisfaction with the security operation. "We have been suffering for years as a result of the anarchy and lawlessness in Jenin," said businessman Raed Abu al-Rub. "Let's hope that this time the Palestinian government is serious about imposing law and order." Ala Ramzi, a university student, expressed hope that the operation would "eliminate" the phenomenon of thugs. He said the people in Jenin were "sick and tired" of all the gangsters and criminals who have been terrorizing them for years. "Stability and security will boost the economy," he added. "This is a good step toward ending the anarchy." PA security commanders told The Jerusalem Post that no one would be spared during the security operation, including members of Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades. "Anyone who refuses to surrender his weapons will be severely punished," they said. "No one is above the law." Although Fatah representatives in Jenin issued a statement in support of the operation, some Fatah gunmen in the Jenin refugee camp said they would not surrender their weapons. "As long as we are being chased by the Israeli security forces, we need our guns for self-defense," said Ahmed Salim, an Aksa Martyrs Brigades member who has been on Israel's list of wanted terrorists for nearly three years. "We respect the Palestinian Authority's efforts to impose law and order and will even help them in their mission. But we won't, under any circumstances, give up our weapons as long as the occupation is still here." Another Fatah gunman pointed out that under the terms of the agreement between Israel and the PA, the policemen would operate in the city only in daylight and Israel would retain security control. The policemen were supposed to disappear from the streets at night so that the Israeli army could come and arrest anyone it wants, he said. Hamas warned the PA against confiscating the weapons of armed Palestinian factions in Jenin. "The police force must restore law and order and not protect the occupation," said Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza City. "The fact that the Americans are supervising this security operation shows that its main goal is to provide security for the Israeli occupation." The deployment of the Palestinian policemen was coordinated with the IDF. Two weeks ago, OC Judea and Samaria Division Brig.-Gen. Noam Tivon and head of the IDF's Civil Administration Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai met with PA Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein a-Sheikh to discuss the PA deployment in Jenin. At the same time, the officials discussed the opening of 20 new PA police stations, to be manned by some 500 men. IDF regional commanders are supposed to meet with their PA counterparts to clarify during which hours of the day the policemen will be allowed to conduct their patrols and in what specific areas. Defense officials said the new police stations would be opened in Area B, which is under Israeli security control. The IDF closed down all PA police stations in the West Bank in 2000. Since the renewal of relations with the PA several years ago, Israel gradually began allowing the reopening of those police stations located in major West Bank cities.