GAZA CITY ø The Palestinian Authority has decided to dismantle a
security unit established to battle the Islamic opposition.
PA officials said Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei has ordered the dismantling
of the so-called "Death Squad."
The squad, part of the Preventive Security Apparatus, was said to have
operated in the Gaza Strip. During its seven years of operations, the PSA squad, officially termed
the Gaza Security and Protection Unit, was never acknowledged by the PA.
They said the squad used threats and violence against enemies of the former
Yasser Arafat regime.
The squad, commanded by Lt. Col. Nabil
Tanous, was established to target Palestinian dissidents, particularly
Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Officials said the squad was established in the late 1990s to direct the crackdown on
Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Officials said the unit contained 70 officers.
"The security and protection department has become a source of
accusation and doubts," PSA chief Brig. Gen. Rashid Abu Shback said. "As a
preventive security service we are keen to defend the rights of the
[On Monday, Hamas gunners renewed their firing of Kassam-class
short-range missiles toward Israel in the first such attack in 18 days.
Israeli authorities said two Kassam missiles fell into Israel's western
Tanous was said to have come under threat from Islamic opposition forces
in wake of the death of Arafat on Nov. 11. Officials said the Death Squad
would be dismantled and its members would serve in other parts of the PSA.
"We have held a number of reconciliatory meetings in the Fatah movement
to create an atmosphere that will allow us to deal with problems which have
emerged in recent years," Abu Shbak said.
In Cairo, PLO chairman Mahmoud Abbas again called for the collection of
unlicensed weapons in the PA areas. At the same time, PA Prime Minister
Ahmed Qurei said the war against Israel would continue until what he termed
the end of the occupation.
"We want to control the Palestinian security arena so that we end the
phenomenon of weapons being carried around everywhere," Abbas said. "We want
a single authority, a single government and a single legitimate Palestinian
armed force on the Palestinian sphere."