RAMALLAH Ñ The Palestinian Authority has placed its more than 40,000
security troops on alert as PA Chairman Yasser Arafat left the West Bank for
PA officials said officers of all 13 security agencies were summoned to
report to duty in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. They said the PA canceled
all leave and ordered commanders to deploy troops at outposts and around
vital facilities, Middle East Newsline reported.
"All of the security forces have been on alert," an official said.
The alert was declared as Arafat, 75, was flown to a military hospital
in France. Arafat has been in critical condition and
the French hospital was said to specialize in internal medicine and cancer
Officials said Arafat, suspected of having intestinal cancer, was flown
by Jordanian military helicopter from Ramallah on Friday to the Jordanian
capital of Amman. From there, Arafat was placed on a French jet for a flight
to Paris. Arafat was accompanied by former PA security chief Mohammed
Dahlan, spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh.
By Friday, PA security forces were seen around government buildings in
West Bank and Gaza Strip cities. The presence was said to have been greatest
in Ramallah where the new Palestinian leadership would be based.
Palestinian sources said that on Oct. 30, the new emergency PA
leadership was scheduled to convene in Ramallah. The three-member leadership
council was identified as Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei, his predecessor,
Mahmoud Abbas and Palestine National Council chairman Salim Zaanoun.
Officials said senior PA officials and members of the ruling Fatah
movement were summoned to return to Ramallah. They said the order was meant
to prevent a power vacuum in the aftermath of Arafat's departure.
"We are preparing ourselves for everything possible," Communications
Minister Azzam Ahmed said.