'Hamas considering a draft in Gaza'

Group official says recruitment would be voluntary at first.

Hamas police cadets Gaza 311 AP (photo credit: Associated Press)
Hamas police cadets Gaza 311 AP
(photo credit: Associated Press)
GAZA CITY — Hamas's top security official in Gaza said Tuesday that he is considering setting up a bigger military force, first of volunteers and eventually of conscripts.
Such a step would further tighten Hamas's control of Gaza and deepen the rift between the Islamist group and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
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Hamas now has a paid security force of 18,000.
Interior Minister Fathi Hamad raised the idea Tuesday at the inauguration of a new police building. He said his ministry is "open to the idea of voluntary recruitment and then going to conscription."
He gave no further details.
His spokesman Ehab Ghussein said that the ministry was looking for now at voluntary recruitment for a broad-based security force, but not a draft.