Abbas launches law-and-order drive

The Palestinian Authority has announced a new law-and-order campaign, pledging to put more police on the streets to boost public safety and confidence in President Mahmud Abbas' leadership.

    Security forces are in training for the new drive

    The drive, due to begin on Sunday, follows growing lawlessness - including 30 murders over the past year - in the Palestinian territories.

    A statement from the Interior Ministry, which oversees the security services, voiced a "clear determination to ... impose the rule of law on the ground through a multi-faceted campaign".

    Tawfiq Abu Khusa, a spokesman for Interior Minister Nasir Yusuf, said more police would patrol the streets in the Gaza Strip and in Palestinian-controlled cities in the West Bank to give the public a better feeling of security.

    However, Palestinian officials said Abbas did not plan to use the campaign to move against resistance groups who are observing a de facto truce with Israel until the end of the year.

    Abbas has pledged to use an "iron fist" against armed groups who violate the truce. On Friday, Palestinian forces arrested two fighters over rocket attacks on Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip.


    Briefing Palestinian security chiefs on the law-and-order drive on Saturday, Yusuf instructed them to put their own houses in order, Abu Khusa said.

    Some security men have been involved in killings and others have used their position and weapons to settle personal accounts or seize public land for their own use.

    Palestinian resistance groups are
    observing a truce with Israel

    Human rights groups have said members of Islamic group Hamas took part in the murder of a woman whom they suspected of immoral behaviour on a Gaza beach on 8 April.

    The woman had been seen with her betrothed two days before their wedding ceremony was due to be held.

    Hamas has not responded to the allegations.

    Last weekend, Abbas named new heads for national security, intelligence and police as part of reforms intended to strengthen the leader's own position after his election in January and before any attempt to revive peacemaking with Israel.

    Israel has said the Palestinians must dismantle armed groups if there is to be any progress on talks, and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has accused Abbas of failing to mount a "real fight against terrorism".

    Abbas says he prefers dialogue to confrontation with the factions.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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