PA embroiled in anarchy ahead of elections

Turned to international assistance to train PA forces to maintain law and order during elections.

PA chaos 88 (photo credit: )
PA chaos 88
(photo credit: )
The commander of the Palestinian Authority Civil Police Force on Sunday appealed for international assistance in reconstructing and training the PA security forces so that they could impose law and order in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The appeal came as the PA security forces stepped up their efforts to end lawlessness and anarchy, especially in the wake of primary elections held for the ruling Fatah party. At least five Palestinians were killed in clashes between rival clans in the town of Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday and Sunday. Eyewitnesses said dozens of gunmen participated in the confrontation between the Kafarneh and Masri clans, using automatic weapons and hand-propelled grenades. A Palestinian policeman was among those killed. In Ramallah, PA policemen shot and seriously wounded a driver who reportedly refused to stop for a routine check. The driver was identified as Anis Ajouri, 25. His family rejected claims that he was driving an unlicensed vehicle. Following the incident, scores of masked men enforced a commercial strike in the city, forcing shopkeepers to shutter their businesses. Colonel Taysir Mansour, commander of the PA Civil Police in Ramallah, said Ajouri was shot during a campaign targeting stolen and unlicensed vehicles. "We are really in bad need of financial support in order to build our police and security forces," General Ala Husni, overall commander of the Civil Police, said in Gaza City. "Of course we need more and more training courses for our police officers. We also need more weapons and better equipment to combat lawlessness." According to Husni, the PA police have "limited weapons, light weapons. Only one in 20 policemen even has weapons." He also said that there was a need for four central prisons and new headquarters and installations for the security forces. "The success in imposing law, order and discipline in the Palestinian territories is necessary for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state," Husni said, adding that some 4,500 police officers had received training at home or abroad in recent years. "We also need to establish our own police academies as in any other country," he said. Husni accused Israel of destroying many PA security installations over the past five years. PA Interior Minister Nasser Youssef said he was determined to stop Palestinians from taking the law into their own hands. "We will soon start rebuilding the PA security forces," he said. "We want a strong police force that will be able to end the anarchy." PA officials expressed deep concern over the growing anarchy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and accused rival Fatah groups of undermining the rule of law. Over the past week the party has been holding primary elections to choose its candidates for next January's parliamentary vote. The elections have been marred by a series of incidents, including raids on polling stations by gunmen and shooting attacks on some candidates. On Sunday, gunmen in Khan Yunis opened fire at Ra'fat Sadallah, a top Fatah official closely allied with former PA minister Muhammad Dahlan. Sadallah, one of the candidates in the primary elections, was not hurt. Dahlan's followers in the Gaza Strip are believed to be behind many of the attacks on polling stations in various parts of the Gaza Strip. Last week the Fatah leadership was forced to suspend the voting in the Gaza Strip because of the violence. Dahlan's men claim that their names had been removed from voting rosters to prevent them from casting their ballots. On Saturday, primary elections for Fatah were held only in Rafah, where representatives of the young guard scored a major victory over veteran leaders of the party. Final results showed younger Fatah activists winning three of six contested seats. The other three went to candidates who were affiliated with Yasser Arafat's regime. One of the winners was Majid Abu Shamaleh, a top ally of Dahlan. The PA Central Elections Committee announced that 146 candidates have registered thus far to run in the parliamentary elections. Ammar Dweik, executive director of the committee, said that the registration, which began on Saturday, would last until December 14. Hamas, which is planning to participate in the elections for the first time, announced on Sunday the names of its candidates who will run to represent the Gaza Strip. The list does not include top Hamas leaders such as Mahmoud Zahar and Ismail Haniyeh, but consists mostly of university teachers and academics who are affiliated with the Islamic movement.