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Wednesday, February 16, 2011     FOR YOUR EYES ONLY

Six Palestinian security forces lack coordination, have overlapping authority

RAMALLAH — The Palestinian Authority, with significant help from Western donors, has overseen a sharp increase in the growth of its security forces.


PA sources said the security forces have grown by nearly 50 percent over the last two years. They said the six major security agencies contain more than 35,000 officers, up from 23,000 in late 2008.

"This has been a very steady growth although it is far from our requirements," a PA source said.

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The sources said virtually every PA security agency has expanded. The biggest increase was in the police, National Security Authority and the Preventive Security Apparatus.

The civilian police has grown from about 5,000 to 7,700 over the last two years, Middle East Newsline reported. Under programs by the European Union, the civilian police now contains a special operations force with 1,300 officers. The SOF unit has been trained by French officer Jean Frederic Martin.

NSA was said to have grown from about 6,000 to about 10,000 troops. The United States has overseen a program meant to train 10 NSA battalions in Jordan, half of which already completed the course.

But the sources said the growth of PA security agencies have not been coordinated through the Interior Ministry. They cited the expansion of PSA and GIS, from 2,500 to 4,300 and from 1,000 to 2,500, respectively.

"These agencies have a lot more people now so they are moving into areas not assigned to them," the source said.

The growth of PSA and GIS has dismayed the EU. The head of the EU training program, Henrik Malmquist, said PA security agencies have encroached on the authority of the civilian police and thus undermining its authority.

"The fact that there are a number of different security agencies does not necessarily make matters easier," Malmquist, a Swedish national, said.

In an interview with the Israeli daily Haaretz, Malmquist cited the PA effort to control protests. He said it was unclear which force has the lead authority in handing civil unrest.

"Shared responsibility is no responsibility," Malmquist said. "I would have preferred that the civilian police be the main agency, and if they needed help, then they could ask for it."

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