Following are excerpts of an interview on 24th September, 1998, with Muhammad Dahlan, head of the Palestinian Preventive Security Service in Gaza, which was conducted by the official Palestinian Authority newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda.

Question: The Preventive Security Service has been criticized for not accepting into its ranks people who are not members of Fatah.

Dahlan: That is not correct. We have enlisted into the ranks of the Preventive Security Service many of our brothers active in other organizations opposed to the agreement and I have considered this to be a personal goal Matters reached the point where we engaged in a huge political battle with the Americans and the Israelis over the enlistment of some 25 members of the Hamas military wing, which was done as part of our overall responsibility toward all members of the Palestinian people. Israel accuses them of being the hard-core military infrastructure of the Izz a-Din Al-Kassam brigades [the Hamas terror cells]. We arrested them in the past for various security-related matters, but we saw no reason to continue to detain them. Since the Israeli Prime Minister contested the matter, we made a historic, national decision to protect them. We said very clearly to the Israelis that an attack on any of them would be an attack on the entire Palestinian Preventive Security Service. Thus, we protected them and gave them the opportunity for an honorable life.”

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