Hamas calls for Palestinian army

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

GAZA CITY Hamas leaders said the 40,000 security officers in the Palestinian Authority should join ranks and form an army.

The leaders said all security agencies should be rolled into one army. They said the army should be a priority for the Palestinian leadership in wake of the death of PA Chairman Yasser Aafat.

"In order to achieve a social amicability, all security apparatuses should be rebuilt in a frame of an army and become national security apparatuses," Hamas spokesman Ismail Haniya told a conference on Saturday.

It was the first time Hamas has called for a Palestinian army as part of the war against Israel. The call was issued during a seminar in Gaza City to discuss the post-Arafat period, Middle East Newsline reported.

The PA has more than 40,000 officers in about 12 security services. The new Palestinian leadership has pledged to consolidate those services.

The seminar pitted those who sought to intensify the war against Israel against advocates of a ceasefire. Ibrahim Abrash, a lecturer at the Azhar University in Gaza City, termed the four-year-old war against Israel a mistake.

"We should know where we are going in the future," Abrash said. "Is militarizing the Palestinian uprising good or bad, and what are the benefits the armed attacks have achieved?"

But Haniya said the war against Israel led to its decision to unilaterally withdraw from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank. He rejected any effort to undermine what he termed "Palestinian armed resistance."

On Saturday, Palestinian gunners fired two Kassam-class short-range missiles toward Israel. The missiles landed in Israel's western Negev and damaged a home. Nobody was injured.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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