PA calls for boost to Jenin police force

Clashes with Islamic Jihad prompt bid for increase to 1,500 police in area to impose law and order.

pa police 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
pa police 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
The Palestinian Authority hopes to increase the number of its policemen in the Jenin area to 1,500 so it can impose law and order, PA officials said Tuesday. Meanwhile, a PA court in Nablus sentenced a 28-year-old Palestinian to life in prison on Tuesday on charges of "collaboration" with Israel. The identity of the man, who lives in Tulkarm, was not released. Late last month, another Palestinian from Hebron was sentenced to death by firing squad after being convicted of helping Israeli security forces track down Palestinian gunmen involved in attacks on Israel. The officials said the PA was seeking the approval of both Israel and the US for deploying additional forces in the Jenin area. Earlier this week, the PA deployed some 600 policemen there as part of a security plan aimed at ending the state of anarchy and lawlessness. But the officials said the number of policemen was too small, noting that in the Jenin area there were about 50 villages. "We need at least 1,500 policemen," one official said. "This is a comprehensive plan aimed at confiscating illegal weapons, arresting wanted criminals and ending the anarchy." The decision to ask for additional policemen came after two Islamic Jihad operatives were wounded Tuesday in an armed clash with PA policemen in the town of Kabatiya, south of Jenin. Sources in the town said the clash erupted when the policemen manning a checkpoint opened fire at seven Islamic Jihad members, wounding two of them. One of the wounded men was identified as Taysir Khuzaymiyeh, a senior Islamic Jihad leader in Kabatiya. In response, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, al-Quds Brigades, issued a statement warning the PA against targeting its members in the West Bank. "We will use our rifles against anyone who stands in our way," the group said. "We won't allow anyone to confiscate our weapons, regardless of the price." Col. Suleiman Umran, commander of the PA security forces in the Jenin area, said the incident had begun when two Islamic Jihad members stormed a police station in Kabatiya and tried to release a friend of theirs who had been arrested. "One of the men opened fire from a pistol at the policemen inside the station," he said. "The policemen responded with gunfire, wounding the attacker and his friend." In a separate incident earlier in the day, PA policemen shot and wounded 21-year-old Fawaz Kmeil in Kabatiya. Eyewitnesses said the policemen had opened fire at him while he was walking in the street. He was taken to a local hospital, where he was listed in critical condition. Col. Umran said the policemen had opened fire after being attacked with gunfire in the town. He accused "local criminals" of seeking to thwart the PA's efforts to impose law and order in the area. He added that the security operation had thus far resulted in the confiscation of 20 stolen cars and the arrest of 11 fugitives.