Arafat’s police have become a dangerous force.
At first glance, what could possibly be wrong with the Philadelphia police force training police personnel for what may yet become a new Third World country?
Is there more that meets the eye? Perhaps.
The Palestinian “police force” cadets who are undergoing a 12-week training course at the headquarters of the Philadelphia police department represent a unit of the PLO’s Palestine Liberation Army, whose members were formerly professional soldiers located in various Arab countries.
Al HaMishmar, the recently defunct Israeli daily newspaper that supported the Israeli government throughout the sensitive Israel-PLO negotiating process, ran a series of investigative pieces in which it warned the Israeli public that the PLA had gotten out of control. Al HaMishmar described the PLA as the Achilles heel of the peace process.
Indeed, the outer trimmings of the PLA seem like anything but a police force. PLA members are sworn in with an outstretched arm that pledges all recruits to dedicated their service to the “liberation of Jerusalem,” while the elite of the PLA units carry the names of the Al Aksha (the mosque atop the Temple Mount) and Jihad (holy war) brigades.
Recruiting Islamic radicals
While Israel had expected the PLA to lead the fight against the rejectionist Islamic Jihad and Hamas terror organizations, the PLA surprised everyone by actually recruiting Hamas and Islamic Jihad into their ranks – without asking their new recruits to abandon their opposition to peace with Israel.
As recently as May 8, Gen. Ghazi Jebali, the commander of the PLA in Gaza, convened a news conference in which he announced that the PLO was going to officially give weapons to the Hamas and Islamic Jihad leadership.
The PLA news conference was carried live on Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation Radio and is available in English or Hebrew translation from the Institute for Peace Education, LTD., in Tel Aviv (Fax: 972-3695-0132).
Pinhas Inbari and Avner Regev, senior correspondents of Al HaMishmar, warned the Israeli negotiating team that Israeli Foreign Ministry negotiators should not allow any such phenomenon to take place.
The senior Arab affairs correspondent for the Labor/Meretzoriented Ha’aretz daily newspaper, Danny Rubenstein, writes that Gaza is a powder keg and that the PLA, instead of keeping law and order, shows no intention of cracking down on the dissident rejectionist Palestinian terror groups.
Rubenstein and the rest of the media community who have interviewed PLA officers notice a consistent pattern: The PLA continues to view Israel as the enemy.
Last year’s annual Israel Defense Forces intelligence report, issued on Dec. 13, warned that the PLA has become a haven for unrepentant terrorists who were actively carrying out attacks against Israelis while intermittently donning their uniforms.
In a series of news interviews conducted during April 1994, IDF Southern Regional Commander Shaul Mofaz warned that the PLA has become an uncontrollable security threat to the State of Israel, and that the IDF has no way of coping with the PLA in the future.
Left-leaning Israeli intelligence officials who had first conceptualized the idea of a strong Palestinian police force are also having second thoughts.
The best example is Reserve Lt. Col. Shmuel Toledano, the former Mossad intelligence official who in 1991 presented the first master plan for the PLA to transform itself into some kind of civilian police force for a Palestinian autonomy.
Throughout 1992, Toledano appeared on almost every major media outlet in Israel to articulate the revolutionary idea of an armed Palestinian presence in a Palestinian autonomous entity.
After all, one American autonomy legal expert commented favorably about Toledano’s idea at the time, saying that if the Navaho Indian police could be armed with weapons in New Mexico, why couldn’t the same hold true for Palestinians?
Toledano thinks differently today.
After spending a week with the PLA, he wrote in Ha’aretz that the PLA has become “a dangerous paramilitary force,” a security threat to the state.
There are at least three factors of PLA credibility that are widely discussed in Israel but not often reported abroad:
PLA officers brazenly drive stolen Israeli vehicles. IDF has requested from the PLA the minimum accountability in this regard and in regards to the Gazan automobile parts factories that dismantle thousands of stolen Israeli vehicles.
The PLA continues to draft fugitives who are wanted for murder and robbery in Israel, despite a clause in the Arafat-Cairo agreement from May 1994 that requires the PLA to extradite any and all alleged felons to stand trial in Israel. A case in point: Raj’ah and Amru Abu Sita, brothers who slit the throat of Israeli farmer Uri Magidish, now serve as PLA intelligence officers.
While Rabin, Peres and Arafat signed in Cairo that there would be no more than 9,000 PLA inductees, and that every candidate would be reviewed by Israel for security reasons, the PLA now counts as many as 19,000 under arms. IDF negotiator General Danny Rothschild sadly acknowledged that the IDF no longer knows who has been recruited into the PLA. IDF officials express concern that the PLA recruits active, violent and volatile terrorists into its ranks, and not only from amongst Hamas.
Allied with Arab armies
IDF officials do not fear that the PLA, acting on its own, could conduct a successful militia war against Israel. What IDF strategists theorize is that the PLA might be aligned with an Arab army in a future war against Israel. In all of Israel’s previous wars with neighboring Arab states, the IDF could rush its troops to the front without interference.
That was before the PLA was a factor to be reckoned with. Yassir Abed Rabbo, Arafat’s right-hand man, was asked at a recent news conference in Jerusalem whether the PLA would extend logistical assistance to Syria in case Syria attacked Israel. “We would consider that request,” he said candidly.
Israelis have not forgotten that the PLO backed Iraq’s Scud missile attacks on Israel. And that was before the PLO could lend any logistical assistance from Gaza or from Jericho.
In short, the PLA, now undergoing intensive intelligence training at Philadelphia police headquarters, may use what it learns in Philly to fight IDF soldiers and Israeli civilians in the PLA war to liberate Jerusalem.
The IDF and the Israeli intelligence community also view the PLA as a lethal enemy. The consensus of Israeli left media opinion is that the PLA is a thorn in the peace process.
The idea of training a PLA unit at an American police headquarters may have been coordinated with the Israeli consulate and with the Israeli Foreign Ministry.
The question remains: Was it coordinated with Israel’s intelligence community or with the senior echelons of the Israeli Department of Defense?
Will other American municipal police departments now begin to train units of the Palestine Liberation Army?.