Palestinians seek police chief ousting

Palestinian armed men briefly nabbed the chief of police for the occupied Gaza Strip and West Bank, releasing him after Palestinian President Yasir Arafat agreed to meet their anti-corruption demands.

    Palestinians have long accused officials of corruption and bribery

    The Janin Martyrs' Brigade, part of Arafat's Fatah faction, claimed responsibility for abducting Ghazi al-Jabali on Friday, in one of the boldest challenges to Arafat's authority by Palestinians seeking security and governmental reforms.

    Abu Iyad, a spokesman for the brigade, told Aljazeera that al-Jabali was kidnapped "to hold him accountable for his mistakes against our people".

    Iyad alleged that al-Jabali was corrupt and accused him of "making and accepting bribes, thereby undermining the progress of the Palestinian people".

    "We gave three years to the Palestinian Authority to carry
    out reforms. We waited a long time. But they didn't do anything. We are doing this in our way," said Abu Iyad.

    Arafat intervention

    He demanded that al-Jabali be removed from his post.   

    Arafat agreed to the kidnappers' demands to dismiss al-Jabali and put him on trial for suspected corruption which led to the police chief's immediate release, added Iyad.

    The Palestinian leader had sent a representative to negotiate
    with the group in al-Buraij refugee camp in central Gaza.

    Iyad said that there were other officials who shared al-Jabali's misdemeanours.

    Al-Jabali is currently under the protection of preventive
    security chief Rashid Abu Shabak, said a senior Palestinian official.

    Corruption charges

    The Palestinian police force - along with Arafat's Palestinian Authority - have been accused of corruption in the past.

    Al-Jabali has been accused of
    corruption and heavy handedness

    Members of the brigade ambushed the car carrying al-Jabali in the Gaza Strip and exchanged fire with his bodyguards, said witnesses who were on the street where the incident happened five kilometres south of Gaza City. 

    At least one bodyguard was injured in the incident, reported Aljazeera's correspondent, Hiba Akila, quoting witnesses.

    Power struggle?

    The unidentified men broke the car windows, then kidnapped the police official and took him to an unknown destination, the witnesses said.

    The kidnappers headed towards the al-Biraiji refugee camp in central Gaza, reported Akila.

    Acting as Gaza's police chief for most of the past ten years since limited self-rule was established, al-Jabali has been the target of several attacks by groups vying for influence in the Gaza Strip.

    In April, an explosion destroyed the front entrance of his Gaza home. Al-Jabali had left the house shortly before the blast.

    A month before that attack armed men fired at his office. He was unhurt. 
     
    Al-Jabali has long been on Israel's wanted list over alleged
    involvement in anti-Israeli attacks. The Israeli army declined
    to comment on the kidnapping.

    Human Rights Watch has called on Arafat in the past to denounce the Palestinian security forces' attacks and detentions of journalists under al-Jabali.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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