Israel Allows PA Forces to Patrol With Assault Rifles

PA paramilitary forces who fought IDF troops in recent years are back in action-- with assault rifles. Israel has approved their deployment, despite the PA's failure to crack down on terror.

, | updated: 14:35

Despite the PA’s lack of compliance with the Road Map and Israel’s demand that it seize illegal weapons held by terrorists, Israel has approved the deployment of hundreds of armed PA paramilitary police in Jericho and Tul Karem. These are two Arab-populated cities recently handed over to PA control.

The stated purpose of the troops is to fight crime in PA-controlled areas. They will be uniformed and carry assault rifles. In Hevron, Israel reportedly will allow them to carry only pistols, should that city be handed over to PA control.

Both Prime Minister Sharon and Defense Minister Mofaz have said that they will not authorize the handover of additional Arab-populated towns and cities in Judea and Samaria to PA control until the PA starts to crack down on the terrorists and seize their weapons.

Analysts said, however, that the approval of the deployment of paramilitary forces is a signal of Israel’s willingness to move forward with additional handovers, despite the PA’s lack of compliance with Israel’s demands.

“There are no scenes of piles of weapons brought in by wanted men, but rather the acceptance of the wanted men, with their weapons, into the Palestinian police," a PA source told Haaretz.

Of those wanted men, many have reportedly signed pledges not to be engaged in terrorist activities. Most of them have also pledged not to erase the serial numbers on their weapons. The weapons were originally registered by Israel and given to the PA, so guns found in terrorists' hands can be traced by their serial numbers - showing whether the weapons came from the PA.

When Israel entered PA-controlled cities during the recent years of the Oslo War, the Arab paramilitary forces fought the IDF, resulting in numerous casualties. The IDF has warned that should it have to re-enter a city to fight terror, the PA should confine its troops to their bases. The IDF has been issued special rules of engagement to avoid harming PA troops.

The IDF has not totally ceded its prerogative to act in these cities when necessary, as it has "no illusions" that the armed PA troops will prevent terrorism, an IDF source said. But it is felt that they will provide some semblance of deterrence and lawfulness.

The general closure of the Judea and Samaria regions that was imposed over the course of last week's holiday period was removed this morning - but not everywhere. The IDF announced that specific information had been received indicating the intention of terrorist organizations to carry out attacks in the heart of Israel, and that the closure was left intact in the northern Shomron. The lifting of the closure allows PA workers and merchants to once again cross into and work in pre-1967 Israel.

In Palestinian terror attacks today and yesterday: Four Israeli workers were wounded this afternoon by an anti-rocket fired at an IDF position near Rafiach in southern Gaza... IDF soldiers thwarted an attempt by three Arabs to cross the Gaza fence into the Negev. Some 64 such attempts have been thwarted this year... A terrorist from the village of Abu Sif was arrested while planning, together with other Jerusalem-area terrorists, a series of attacks against Israel...

An Arab from the Negev stabbed two women in Be'er Sheva this afternoon, killing one of them. The two are his former live-in partner and her 47-year-old mother. The older woman died of her wounds. The murderer stabbed them both over a disagreement regarding custody arrangements for his and his partner's three-month old daughter. He arrived at their home, stabbed the women and then ran off with the baby. Police know the murderer's identity, and are in pursuit.



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