October 25, 2008

PA Sends Police Reinforcements to Hebron

The Palestinian Authority has sent police reinforcements to the West Bank city of Hebron to counter the influence of Hamas militants, Israeli officials say.

The unnamed officials told the BBC they approved a request by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to deploy 500 police officers in Hebron, where several hundred Jewish settlers living amid 150,000 Palestinian Arabs has caused the city to become a flash point between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.

Hamas, which gained control of the Gaza Strip last year, has focused on Hebron as a possible foothold in the West Bank, hoping to capitalize on the tensions between Muslims and Jews there, analysts said.

But Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said the police deployment was not specifically aimed at Hamas, telling the BBC, "The deployment of these forces is part of a plan by the Palestinian Authority to bring security to its citizens, just like in any other country in the world. I hope this plan will be successful, as was the case in Jenin, Nablus, and other West Bank cities."