Paramilitary: August 31, 2005


The Israeli removal of the settlements from the Gaza Strip garnered much media attention, on both the left and the right. Almost all of this focused on the delicate but efficient manner in which the Israelis conducted the operation, along with coverage of Palestinian extremist posturing over the operation (with Hamas, for example, claiming that it had "forced" the Israel action). Despite this widespread coverage, the ink stained wretches of the press missed what may have been the most important part of the story, the relatively good performance of the Palestinian Authority Security Force (PASF)

During Yassir Arafat's corrupt regime, the PASF, which was directed by his brother Moussa, was little more than a gang of thugs who served to enforce Arafat's authority and as a conduit to supply arms and equipment to extremist groups, such as Hamas. This began to change with the advent of Mahmoud Abbas as head of the Palestinian Authority. 

Since assuming leadership in late 2004, Abbas has instituted a reform and professionalization of the PASF. During the Israeli evacuation operations, the PASF provided security support, channeling demonstrators away from the settlements and helping to prevent irate demonstrators from getting out of hand. Aware that many security personnel were sympathetic to the extremists, PASF leadership developed a series of clever operational plans, so that no security officer was on the same detail for more than 24 hours, and personnel frequently did not know what their assignments would be until almost literally the last moment. In addition, although there is not evidence,  or even rumors, about the matter, it seems likely that PASF staffs coordinated their activities with Israeli military and police forces, to smooth any possible obstacles.
If this program of reform and professionalization can be maintained, it will provide a strong, reliable force to underpin any future Palestinian State.


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