Israeli Officials: Palestinians Creating an Army

Published May 31st, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

In 20 years, Israel will have to reckon with a Palestinian population in Gaza that is expected to double in size from the current 1.4 million, said the Jerusalem Post, quoting a security official Tuesday.  

It will also face a structured military force, an established Palestinian army created to serve an independent state, he told the Israeli daily.  

He said that in recent months there has been a sharp increase in the conversion of the different Palestinian security forces into a military force that carries out maneuvers, exercises, and live fire drills throughout the Palestinian Authority controlled areas, traveling in military convoys.  

"The forces are training for combat to protect Area A," he said. In the event confrontation occurs, it is easier to wage war against an institutionalized army than against guerrilla forces," the paper quoted him as saying.  

Another security official told the Jerusalem Post that from the beginning, the Palestinian Police and other security forces adopted military-style operations and focused less on community service and combating crime.  

A cause for concern, the officials noted, is the military force is being commanded by qualified officers who have undergone intensive training in Egypt, Yemen, Italy, and Eastern European countries.  

There are 22,000 Palestinian security officials who currently serve in the different security organizations in Gaza, including intelligence, preventive security, and police, military, and naval forces, according to the paper. This does not include the large number of illegal weapons smuggled in to the Gaza Strip by PA officials and VIPs, it added, as well as the hundreds of illegal weapons held by individuals and organizations. The military force in Gaza also has a number of armored personnel carriers and other vehicles, mounting machine guns and mortars, it said – Albawaba.com  

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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