PA forces to expand West Bank security crackdown
Published Saturday 09/06/2012 (updated) 10/06/2012 19:59
Palestinian security forces in Jericho. (MaanImages/Stringer)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian Authority forces are extending a large scale security crackdown to the Bethlehem, Hebron and Nablus districts, a spokesman said on Saturday.
Adnan Dmeiri told Ma'an that security services are interrogating military officers and civilian targets in connection with lawlessness in the West Bank, including the shooting of the late Jenin governor's house in early May.
Around 50 people have been detained so far.
Suspects are also being questioned over illegal arms deals and other crimes contributing to insecurity, Dmeiri said.
Palestinian forces initially launched a crackdown in the Jenin district in response to shots being fired at the Jenin governor's house. Qaddura Musa died from a heart attack which officials say was brought on by the attack on his home.
The security campaign saw a wave of arrests in the district.
One prominent figure caught up in the sweep was Zakaria Zubeidi, known for his role in the second Intifada against Israeli occupation. He led the Fatah-linked al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militant group dormant in the West Bank since the party disavowed armed conflict with Israel.
"Jericho has become like Guantanamo," Zakaria's brother Abed told Reuters last week, referring a notorious Palestinian Authority jail near the Dead Sea.
"The idea of being sent there is being used to terrify us," he added.
For most of its 45 years under Israeli occupation, Jenin has been dominated by an anarchic patchwork of grassroots political groups and armed factions with shadowy local bosses.
The crackdown, led by elite presidential guards and the counter-terrorism unit, is seen as a determined bid by the Western-backed PA to regain control of the impoverished area and smash local networks that challenge its power.
Its forces are swooping not only on local strongmen and rival gangsters who smuggle drugs and rob, but also on rogue security officers suspected of arming and directing them.
On Friday, a Fatah official said that PA forces require a regular supply of new arms in order to maintain peace and order in the West Bank.
Reuters contributed to this report