Fatah police.
Fatah police.

The Palestinian Authority / Fatah special police force that was trained by the US to fight terrorists has turned out to be a failure, according to recent reports. The US-backed police force was supposed to enable Israel to turn over security control of Judea and Samaria to the PA, as a prelude to a possible retreat from its biblical heartland. But so far the force's contingent in Jenin has been running scared from the terrorists it was supposed to bring under control.

According to WorldNetDaily, the Jenin unit's first mission was to clear out a section of Kabatiya, a neighborhood south of Jenin which is considered the main base for the Islamic Jihad terrorist group.

About 200 policemen attempted to engage members of Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Fatah's own "Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades."  But witnesses, including members of Fatah and Israeli security sources, said that within less than 30 minutes of the start of the clashes, the elite PA police force retreated from the scene. "The security men ran away scared. They didn't arrest anyone," said one witness.

"The security men ran away scared. They didn't arrest anyone."

"No chance for the troublemakers"

The PA's special force has been undergoing training under the supervision of US Middle East envoy Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton since late 2006. An initial contingent of 500 police officers was deployed in Shechem, in northern Samaria, in February of 2008, and another 480 members of the elite force deployed in Jenin in early May. The Jenin force's commander, Suleiman Amran, announced to the media that following the deployment, there is "no chance for troublemakers to return to Jenin."

Gen. Dayton personally oversaw the Jenin and Nablus units' training at US-operated bases in Jordan and in the Judean city of Jericho, and his office has been closely monitoring the police force's deployment. The budget for the force's training and arming was reported to be in the millions of dollars.

However, 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.

Helpless in Shechem

In Shechem, the new police force proved helpless against 13 senior leaders of the "Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades" who were pardoned last June by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on condition they disarm and refrain from attacks, but who nonetheless publicly took up arms and vowed terror attacks against Israel. They then created a stronghold in the Old City of Shechem, calling themselves the Night Warriors of Al Aqsa.

According to informed security sources, among the Brigades leaders rejecting the agreement were Hanni Ka'abe, Mahdi Abu Jazaleh, and brothers Omar and Amer Haqube. The US-backed Shechem police unit was called upon to eject the "Night Warriors" from Shechem's Old City.

"They couldn't even get near the stronghold without being heavily fired upon and then retreating."

A large force attempted to raid the terrorists' stronghold several times, but according to security officials, the assaults repeatedly failed. "We are talking about six attempts so far, five of the attempts utilized more than 300 policemen against the 13 terrorists and all attempts failed miserably," said a security official. "They couldn't even get near the stronghold without being heavily fired upon and then retreating," the official said.

In the end, the IDF raided the Brigades' stronghold, killing Brigades terrorist leader Ka'abe in a shootout and sending at least five other rebel Brigades terrorists into hiding. "Israel had to come in and do the work for the Palestinian force," said a security official. "I don't know how they can handle security without Israel backing them up."

Dayton blames Israel

Dayton was recently quoted as blaming Defense Minister Ehud Barak for the police force's failures, according to the PA’s Ma’an News Agency.  Dayton reportedly praised the PA in meetings with foreign consuls in Ramallah, but criticized Barak and the IDF. The PA, he said, is “acting with great seriousness in the realm of security as part of its responsibility to secure its territories.” However, he said, Israel causes the PA to fail, in part by refusing to grant PA officers free access to areas under Israeli control.

Meanwhile, US training of elite PA security forces continues. A new, three-month course began in March at US-controlled bases in the Jordanian village of Giftlik, according to Israeli security officials. More than 600 "elite PA soldiers" are enrolled in the current course.

The plan of instruction calls for a 1,400-hour curriculum that includes human rights law, defensive tactics, first aid, urban and rural small-unit tactics, firearms, mounted- and foot-patrol techniques, crime scene investigations and more.

Cigarette lighters for handguns

However, according to a recent report in the Herald Tribune, the force's instruction has been inept to the point of being pathetic. In its poorly translated instruction manuals, for example, the words "cover fire," a term to describe small-arms fire to pin down the enemy, was translated as "extinguish a burning fire."

"Instruction in defensive tactics for hundreds of students was taught with three practice batons, a few handcuffs, and dummy pistols that were actually novelty cigarette lighters. The students had none of the safety equipment normally associated with police work," wrote a Tribune reporter. "In the classrooms, I watched as students were taught radio communications without radios, driving and vehicle maintenance with no vehicles, foot-patrol tactics without weapons or radios, and mounted-patrol tactics without vehicles."

In addition, fully 10 percent of the students were reported to be functionally illiterate.