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Monday, May 30, 2011     FOR YOUR EYES ONLY

U.S.-trained Palestinian Authority forces beginning to test their limits

RAMALLAH — The Israel Army has assessed that it faces a growing threat from an increasingly confrontational Palestinian Authority.


Military sources said PA security forces, thousands of them trained by the United States, have been violating agreements on deployment and engagement in 2011.

"We are beginning to see the use of PA security forces for political goals," a military source said.

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The sources said PA security units, despite increased coordination, were interfering with Israel Army operations, particularly in the northern West Bank. They said the Palestinian officers were testing the limits of their freedom of movement and operations against Israel.

"They are not yet looking for a fight, but they are looking to expand their authority beyond what has been," the source said. "When we act forcefully, they back down, but we usually try to calm things down."

The sources said the friction has been greatest with the U.S.-trained National Security Forces. So far, Washington has financed the training of six NSF battalions in Jordan and plans to send another four battalions over the next year.

"They come back from Jordan very confident in their skills and eager to use them against us," another military source said.

The sources said Central Command has also concluded that PA security forces could play a major role in plans for massive unrest in the West Bank. They said the ruling Fatah movement, backed by PA leaders, appeared to be encouraging an Egyptian-style revolution based on rapid mobilization of protesters through Facebook and Twitter.

"This has been a leading topic of discussion in briefings over the last month," a source said.

The sources said PA security forces were believed to be recruiting civilians to attack Israel Army units. Over the last two months, they said, Palestinians, following the accidental Army shooting of a farmer, have been attacking a checkpoint in the Jordan Valley.

One of the attackers was identified as a PA police officer from Jenin. The officer, said to have been a member of the Iranian-sponsored Islamic Jihad, rammed into an Israeli officer in the northern West Bank.

On March 8, Israeli police stopped a Palestinian pedestrian at a checkpoint near Nablus and found five pipe bombs and three firebombs in his bag. Officials said the weapons appeared to have been prepared for insurgents in the northern West Bank.

"The tension is seething," a senior Israeli military officer said.

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