Six Hundred More US-Trained Armed Fatah Men Deployed

600 additional US-trained armed Fatah men will be deployed in Samaria with approval from the Olmert government. The PA says it wants an army.

Ezra HaLevi ,

PA Police
PA Police
Israel News Photo: (archive)

Six hundred additional US-trained armed Fatah men will be deployed in northern Samaria following additional weapons training, with approval from the Olmert government.

The 600-man force, which answers to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, completed training in Jordan in recent days and is undergoing additional American-supervised exercises at a Jericho base built with American funds. The trained men will go on to train others for what US General Keith Dayton envisions as a 50,000 man security force.

The Bush administration has been careful to refer to the force as "security guards" and not an army, though PA negotiators, led by former PA prime minister Ahmed Qureia, have demanded just that – a regular standing army.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, speaking at President Shimon Peres’s Tomorrow Conference, promised: "We are talking about a demilitarized state here." Critics of the government point out that even under the Oslo Accords, the PA has thousands more armed men than it was allotted.

450 Already Deployed, Ineffective
In February, 500 US-trained armed men were deployed in Shechem. Last month, 450 more returned from a shorter training program in Jordan and were deployed in Jenin as well in an attempt to prove that the PA can control terrorism.

The IDF released a statement after the deployment, saying, “This morning, approximately 450 Palestinian Authority personnel arrived at Jenin and north Samaria. The deployment was made after a number of coordinated meetings of different levels between IDF personnel and the Civil Administration with the Palestinians. It is important to emphasize that the IDF did not pass the security responsibility in Jenin to the Palestinian Policemen, and will continue their coordination with the Palestinian Policemen in Jenin.”

An Israeli security official closely monitoring the progress of the Shechem and Jenin forces said that they could not fight terrorism. "The Israel Defense Forces must do most of the work for them in that regard. When it comes to public security, they can block off streets and create a perimeter and carry out other basic duties, but beyond that, fighting crime isn't going well," the security official said.

IDF Officers and PA Security Chiefs Meet Again
The Commander of the Judea and Samaria Division, Brigadier General Noam Tibon, the Head of Civil Administration, Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai and representatives from the Palestinian Security Forces including the Palestinian Authority Minister of Social Affairs met Tuesday at the Fatah-controlled PA offices in Ramallah.
“The parties discussed the activity of the Palestinian Security Forces in the area of Jenin and northern Samaria,” an IDF statement following the meeting said. “The Palestinians expressed their appreciation at the assistance received from the Israelis which contributed to the success of the Financial Conference in Bethlehem during the weekend.
“In addition, during the meeting, the Israeli side presented the easing of restrictions recently implemented by the IDF, as part of the policy of the Ministry of Defense. The Palestinians expressed satisfaction in light of the steps taken and requested to continue and strengthen the Palestinian Security Forces and Authority.
“In the meeting, which was reportedly held in a positive atmosphere, both sides agreed on holding additional meetings like this in the future.”

Deployment Controversial
Several organizations, most notably terror victim associations and student groups, have come out against the training and deployment of additional PA police forces. In addition to the problem of Fatah controlling armed forces while it still maintains terrorist groups under its control, some of the PA policemen have carried out terrorist attacks as recently as the past few months.

Ido Zoldan, a former resident of Homesh, was gunned down near Kedumim by a PA police officer. Off-duty IDF soldiers Achikam Amichai and David Rubin were also shot to death by a PA officer and PA Islamic court employee – who both took refuge at the PA’s Hevron headquarters immediately following the murders.

An armored vehicle given to Fatah when it controlled Gaza was recently used to overrun the Gaza border in a carefully staged bomb-attack on the eve of Passover two weeks ago by Hamas. Israel has authorized the transfer of several identical armored vehicles to Fatah by Russia to its remaining footholds in Judea and Samaria.