Palestinian security force tours Hebron’s Jewish section for first time since 1994

City governor’s office confirms this is the first time Arab security personnel could openly walk around in uniform and carry weapons in the area.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

In a first, some 30 members of the Palestinian Authority’s security forces were allowed by Israel to enter parts of the Jewish areas of Hebron armed and in uniform, according to a Times of Israel report Tuesday.

The Palestinian Authority’s (PA) official news agency Wafa stated that the men were from the PA police and National Security Forces.

“The tour was symbolic, but we hope that it foreshadows us establishing a permanent presence there in the near future,” said an official from the office of the mayor of the Palestinian part of the city in the report, explaining that this would be good for the civilians in the area.

“Criminals have for years sought refuge in those areas because Israel does not take action against them and we are only allowed to go there with permission,” he said.

PA security forces have occasionally entered the Palestinian areas of the Israeli-controlled section during the past 20 years, since control of the city was divided, after receiving permission, but never in uniform, he added.

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In the report, a spokesperson for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories confirmed that the local IDF brigade commander had given permission for the tour, but stressed that it was an “exceptional matter,” and that Israel does not mean to change any of its security procedures in the city.

‘PA means suppression and Israel means freedom’

Yishai Fleisher, spokesman for the Hebron Jewish community, told WIN that “Even if it’s true that someone local gave permission, he doesn’t have authority to do so. It’s against the Hebron Accords [that divided control of the city], it’s illegal, so we have asked the IDF to investigate how this happened.”

It did not matter that that they only walked through the Arab part of the Casbah, according to Fleisher, and did not enter the streets where the small Jewish community is located.

In explaining why allowing the precedent was a dangerous move, Fleisher noted, “More PA means more potential for terrorism and incitement — and also the reduction of Arab rights here, because more PA means more suppression, while more Israel means more freedom.”

When asked whether having Palestinian law enforcement in the area could help stop crime, Fleisher’s answer was two-fold.

“First of all, the mayor of PA-controlled Hebron is a murderer of Jews, an Israel-hater and a terrorist, so there’s no reason to believe anything he says,” responded Fleisher, referring to Tayseer Abu Sneineh, who was sentenced to life in prison for his part in killing six Jews and wounding 20 others in Hebron in 1980. Sneineh was released a few years later in a prisoner exchange.

“But it’s true that [the IDF] don’t patrol there…They’re absolutely right in that the answer is more patrols. Israeli patrols. Israel should have greater sovereignty in Hebron, certainly in H2 [the Jewish section], but also in other parts of the city. I believe the answer is not less Israel but more Israel,” he said firmly.