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The Wild West Bank :Terrorist 'security chief ' resigns over "lawlessness" - armed thugs demand better 'jobs' and protection

Fighting for their right to party: Abbas's Fatah fire at his compound and rampage through Ramallah after being asked to disarm
March 31, 2005

MIM: The honeymoon is over :

Abu Abbas with Al Aqsa martyrs brigade thugs in happier days ...

MIM: The Wild West Bank - Terrorists v.s.Terrorists as armed thugs battle it out in West Bank towns and cities.

"They destroyed everything inside the restaurant and attacked some of the men and women who were there. You see such things only in cowboy movies."

"...Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas held a series of meetings in his office Thursday with commanders of the PA security forces to discuss ways of restoring order to the city following Wednesday night's shooting attack on the "presidential" Mukata compound.

Dozens of Fatah gunmen went on a shooting rampage in the city, beating passersby and smashing furniture inside some of the city's prestigious restaurants, including Darna and Bardouni. The gunmen also beat some diners and waiters, forcing them to flee.

Eyewitnesses identified the assailants as members of Fatah's armed wing, Aksa Martyrs Brigades. They said the gunmen, who were carrying automatic rifles and handguns, shouted slogans against Abbas as they attacked the restaurants, which are usually frequented by senior PA officials and their families.

"We are living in a jungle," the owner of one of the restaurants told The Jerusalem Post. "These men think they are above the law and everyone is afraid of them."

The attack started shortly after 11 p.m. when scores of gunmen arrived at the Mukata and demanded to meet face-to-face with Abbas. When the guards refused to let them in, the gunmen opened fire at one of the buildings inside the Mukata, but no one was hurt.

Abbas, who was holding a meeting with top security officials in his office, later left the compound under heavy security.

According to a senior Abbas adviser, the PA chairman was "enraged" by the behavior of the gunmen and ordered the security forces to arrest all those involved in the incident.

The gunmen then marched towards the city center, shooting into the air and beating several passersby and merchants.

They also went on the rampage inside five restaurants and cafes, beating customers and workers.

"They behaved like a mafia," a waiter at one of the restaurants said. "They destroyed everything inside the restaurant and attacked some of the men and women who were there. You see such things only in cowboy movies." The waiter and several eyewitnesses said PA policemen who arrived at the scene failed to interfere to stop the attack. "They were clearly afraid of the gunmen," he added..."


"...Yesterday, the violence continued: A temporary police station in Tul Karm was torched, armed men marched in Jenin and Nablus, and cars belonging to candidates running for local office in Gaza were bombed. Kaddoumi may have led the attack on Abbas within the PLO, but the armed men show that the dissatisfaction is spreading.

Abbas' ongoing conflict with his prime minister, Ahmed Qureia - first over the composition of the cabinet, and recently over Qureia's aggressive statements against coordinating the disengagement from Gaza with Israel - show that contempt for Abbas' authority has even reached the ranks of the PA.

On Wednesday night, the PA security services did conduct patrols of Ramallah, on Abbas' orders, but they refrained from clashing with or arresting the armed men - and yesterday, the PA agreed that these men would also not be arrested or interfered with in the future. When some of these men later strode boldly through the Muqata's front door, no one laid a finger on them..."


By Wafa Amr

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - A Palestinian security chief has resigned, complaining to President Mahmoud Abbas that too little was being done to halt lawlessness in the West Bank and Gaza, officials say.

"I cannot work under these conditions," Tawfik Tirawi, head of Palestinian Intelligence in the West Bank, wrote in a letter of resignation that he gave Abbas on Thursday after a meeting of security commanders at the president's headquarters, the officials said.

Tirawi, the most senior security official to resign since Abbas's election in January, quit a day after half a dozen gunmen from the ruling Fatah faction fired at the presidential Muqata compound in Ramallah and then rampaged through the city.

There was no immediate word if Abbas, who officials said gets along well with Tirawi, would ask him to reconsider.

The officials said Tirawi complained that other heads of Palestinian security organisations had not done enough to impose the rule of law Abbas had promised after taking over from the late Yasser Arafat.

Earlier in the day, Abbas expelled from the Muqata the 26 militants to whom Arafat had given sanctuary at the height of the 4-1/2-old Palestinian uprising.

The 26, on an Israeli wanted list of 70 members of the Fatah-affiliated al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, had defied Abbas's demands to lay down their arms under peace moves he had agreed with Israel.

The flare-up in Ramallah began after security commanders met representatives of the 70 earlier in the week to press them to put aside their weapons.

A spokesman for the 26 said all the gunmen had left the compound on Abbas's orders and had gone to hiding places in Ramallah, the West Bank's political and commercial hub.


Some of the militants had refused to disarm, saying they wanted better job and pay guarantees as well as assurances of their safety, officials said. Israel has pledged to stop hunting them if they disarm.

Six of the militants vented their anger by carrying out the shooting spree, the officials said.

"We wanted our voice to be heard," one of the gunmen told Reuters. "We want our rights and we want protection."

In another sign of lawlessness plaguing the Palestinian territories, an angry crowd burned down tents used as offices by Palestinian police in the West Bank town of Tulkarm after police shot and wounded three suspects.

"Abbas has issued an order to prevent any security violations and harm to citizens' property," a spokesman from the Palestinian president said. "Security units have been deployed to prevent further attacks."

Abbas, elected in January after Arafat's death, is struggling to impose law and order and reform corruption-tainted security forces after reaching a ceasefire deal with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon last month.

He has so far used dialogue instead of confrontation in his dealings with militants.

Abbas has complained some senior Palestinian officials are blocking his reform efforts and has even suggested he might have to postpone an expected meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush in April, Fatah officials said.


Palestinians Retreat on Pledge to Crack Down on Gunmen Who Shot Mahmoud Abbas' Office Building


The Associated Press

Mar. 31, 2005 - Palestinian officials Thursday backed away from a pledge to crack down on gunmen who shot up Mahmoud Abbas' office building, underlining the difficulties authorities face in restoring order in the chaotic West Bank.

The Palestinian leader was in the building but unhurt in the gunfire late Wednesday. He ordered his forces to go after the gunmen, who security officials said had "crossed a red line" by attacking the seat of government. But in the light of day, officials adopted a conciliatory line, and one even admitted they feared coming under armed attack themselves.

Under a compromise, the gunmen will be allowed to rejoin their former units in the security forces.

Late Thursday, West Bank intelligence chief Tawfik Tirawi called Abbas and threatened to resign unless more is done to restore the rule of law, a senior Palestinian security official said.

Abbas has vowed to bring law and order to Palestinian areas and to reform his overlapping and corruption-plagued security forces.

The task is difficult. More than four years of conflict with Israel have badly weakened the forces. Many militant cells have begun acting like street gangs, using their weapons and positions to accumulate power, which they are reluctant to cede to Abbas.

Under a truce declared Feb. 8, Israel handed two West Bank towns back to Palestinian security control. The agreement was for five towns, but Israel halted the process, charging that Palestinian security has not carried out a pledge to disarm fugitives.

The truce has almost completely quelled Palestinian-Israeli violence and has focused attention on internal Palestinian problems.

Abbas has been working to bring militants under control by persuasion. He met with a group of them Tuesday, asking them to disarm, abide by the truce with Israel, and return to normal life.

Late Wednesday, security officials ejected six militants from Abbas' headquarters, where they had sought refuge several years ago after Israel began hunting down fugitives, the militants said. Arafat had allowed more than 20 fugitives to take refuge in Palestinian Authority headquarters.

Security officials said they had asked the six all former members of the security forces themselves to rejoin their units and hand over their weapons or leave the compound. One official said on condition of anonymity that "they were involved in kidnappings, blackmailing, harming people, shooting them."

The men, along with nine other militants, then attacked the compound before rampaging through Ramallah, damaging several restaurants, forcing shops to close, and screaming threats against Abbas, witnesses and officials said. No injuries were reported.

Abbas responded by ordering the militants arrested, more troops deployed throughout the city and compensation paid to the businesses that were damaged, security officials said.

"They have crossed the red line," one official fumed. "They attacked the presidential headquarters. They are defying the Palestinian Authority and now we have to take harsh steps against them, otherwise they will control the city and spread chaos."

But the security commanders quickly climbed down.

A Palestinian security official confirmed the militants would be allowed to return to their units but would be demoted one rank. Another official said they could not be arrested, because their colleagues would retaliate by attacking the Palestinian Authority's forces.

One of the militants, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said under the agreement, they would not be allowed to serve in security units inside Abbas' headquarters.

Tension also flared in Tulkarem, where a mob of angry Palestinians burned down a Palestinian roadblock after officers shot and wounded a man, security officials said.

Late Wednesday, the officers stopped three men, reportedly suspected car thieves, and after an argument, a police officer shot and lightly wounded one of the men.

A large group, some of them armed, then stormed the roadblock. The police fled, and the protesters burned several tents used to house the officers and set fire to the Palestinian flag that flew above.

On Thursday morning, police issued an ultimatum to seven of the protesters to turn themselves in or face repercussions.

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