Shechem: New PA Militia Arrests 2; IDF Soldiers Arrest 6

A US-trained militia of Fatah loyalists in the Palestinian Authority detained two Arabs in Shechem.

Nissan Ratzlav-Katz,

IDF soldiers arresting PA terrorist (archive)
IDF soldiers arresting PA terrorist (archive)

A US-trained militia of Fatah loyalists in the Palestinian Authority detained two Arabs in Shechem, Monday night.

According to a commander of the new PA force in Shechem, his men entered the Balata neighborhood to arrest members of the Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a Fatah-aligned group responsible for numerous shootings and bombings against Israelis. In the course of an hours-long gun battle that erupted between the rival Arab factions, six people were injured.

The commander admitted that his forces eventually fled the scene, leaving behind a police car. Local residents pelted them with stones. It was not clear whether the two arrests were stone throwers or the original suspects.

Nevertheless, senior PA officials boasted that the two Shechem arrests show that the PA is committed to maintaining law and order in Judea and Samaria.

But, Lieut. Col. (Res.) Meir Indor, Director of the Terror Victims Association, is not encouraged. He says that before international conferences, the PA always issues announcements about arresting terrorists for media and diplomatic consumption. "But, we saw recently, in the case of the PA terrorists who were plotting to kill Prime Minister Olmert, that the PA set them free a few days later. The PA doesn't view terrorists as law breakers. Their arrests are meaningless."

Indor expressed a greater concern that the new slew of guns given to PA fighters will be used against Israeli civilians as they have been in the past.

Also Monday night, IDF soldiers apprehended six wanted terrorists in Shechem, which is located 22 miles northeast of Tel Aviv.

PA gunmen opened fire on soldiers twice during IDF operations in Shechem, but no soldiers were wounded. The six PA detainees were transferred to General Security Services for questioning. In related counter-terrorism operations overnight, IDF soldiers arrested six other terrorists in the Ramallah region, and two in Kalkilya.

The new PA militia, which was trained under the supervision of US military envoy Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton, made its debut in Shechem over the weekend with 300 armed men. Training took place at an American-funded base in Jericho, with a gift of arms purchased for the new PA recruits by the Bush administration.

Israel, US and PA negotiators agreed that the official PA forces in Shechem would be allowed to operate until midnight, after which the city reverts to complete IDF responsibility until 6:00 am. IDF sources said that Israel has overall security jurisdiction during the day, as well, and that counter-terror operations in the city will continue uninterrupted.

Later in the week, another 200 members of the newly-recognized PA force will be deployed in Shechem, as well. Sources in Israel and the United States have indicated that the new PA militia will be given control of other Arab towns if it demonstrates an ability to collect weapons held by terrorist groups and in Shechem.
 
According to the PA governor of Shechem, Jamal Musein, the PA will not confiscate any weapons held by the local terrorist cells. In an interview with the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida last week, Muhsein said, "The 'weapons of resistance' held by those on the wanted lists will remain in their possession until they completely clarify their status with the Israeli side."
 
As for the ongoing IDF counter-terror operations in Shechem, Muhsein said, "We will not allow the occupation (forces) to continue with their acts of murder, arrests and incursions."





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