Middle East News
Fatah militias dismantled, says top Palestinian security official
Dec 29, 2007, 7:37 GMT
Ramallah - The top Palestinian security official, Minister of Interior Abdul Razzak Yehya, confirmed Saturday reports that Fatah militias, al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, had been dismantled totally and no longer existed.
Speaking on the official Voice of Palestine radio, Yehya said steps to dismantle all other militias operating in the Palestinian areas were under way.
He expressed the hope that they would all cooperate with the Palestinian security plan to disarm and disband, warning that if they do not do that willingly, then the security forces would disarm them and collect what he called their 'illegal' weapons.
He also said Israel had stopped pursuing wanted Palestinians in the West Bank in spite of a Friday pre-dawn Israeli army raid near Ramallah that ended with the killing one of the Palestinian presidential guards.
One of the security men assigned to protect the head of the Palestinian negotiating team Ahmad Qureia was also killed. Israel claimed he was on their wanted list, he said.
Palestinian and Israeli security officials have been discussing for months a plan to disarm all militant groups in the West Bank in return for an Israeli amnesty that would allow the militants to resume a normal life without fear of being killed or arrested by Israeli forces.
Israel has agreed to this plan and granted amnesty to hundreds of Fatah militants who agreed to be merged into the security forces.
Yehya said the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades were formed at the time of the beginning of the Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation at the end of 2000 and that they were all members of the Palestinian security forces who formed militias to fight the Israeli occupation.
However, when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who heads the Fatah movement, issued orders in June for all militias, including the al-Aqsa brigades, to be disbanded, steps were taken to carry out this order.
The move was part of an overall Palestinian security plan to enforce the rule of law and end armed lawlessness in the Palestinian areas.
The decision was also part of a Palestinian obligation under the international road map peace plan that demands that the Palestinians end all acts of violence against Israel and disband all militias.
Six month later, said Yehya, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has succeeded in dismantling the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and was proceeding to dismantle the other militias connected to Islamic and other organizations.
He said the militias did not represent a resistance force against Israel, refuting accusations from the Islamic movements Hamas and Islamic Jihad that dismantling the militias was putting an end to resistance prior to ending the Israeli occupation.
Both movements accuse the Palestinian Authority of implementing a US-Israeli security plan aimed at providing security to Israel without getting in return from Israel, mainly an independent Palestinian state.
However, Yehya said his ministry is working on building a strong and well-trained security force in preparation for the future state and not just for an autonomous authority that exists today.
He said part of this work was sending members of the security forces to Jordan and Egypt starting from next month to get the best training possible in order to create a disciplined and advanced security force.
Yehya also he was in touch with Russian defence officials who had agreed to send 50 armoured personnel carriers to the Palestinian areas after gaining Israeli approval for the deal.
The 50 vehicles would be unarmed on Israel's insistence and were due to arrive in Jordan next month before being transported to the Palestinian areas, he said.© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur