Some 600 Palestinian policemen took up positions in the West Bank city of Hebron early Saturday, and their commander said they would crack down on militants and criminals. Hebron is the West Bank's largest city, and the third to be reinforced with forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
According to the AP, the troops arrived before dawn.
In recent months, Abbas has been trying to expand control over the West Bank, deploying forces first in the cities of Nablus and Jenin. Abbas has intensified a crackdown on Hamas after the latter seized control over Gaza by force in June 2007, leaving him only the West Bank. Trying to prevent Hamas from taking over the West Bank, Abbas has closed Hamas-linked organizations and arrested hundreds of supporters.
Several hundred Palestinian police officers are already deployed in Hebron. The new contingent of 585 troops drove into Hebron in jeeps, vans and buses early Saturday.
The forces assembled at the city's security headquarters. By midmorning, several jeeps carrying the new arrivals left the compound and began patrolling the city streets.
Hebron's Palestinian security chief, Samih Seifi, said he is determined to impose order. "We will arrest whoever tries to stop us, and we will not let anyone deter us," Seifi said.