PA Mobilizes Newly-Acquired Armored Cars to Combat Chaos

Thursday, 23 May, 2019 - 10:45
Ramallah, Tel Aviv- Kifah Zboun and Asharq Al-Awsat

In a first, the Palestinian Authority deployed Washington-approved armored cars to control a family skirmish that escalated into violence in the West Bank city of Hebron.

The move comes at a time Israeli propaganda has rumored that Palestinian security infrastructure will totally collapse in the event of halting cooperation with Israel. What triggered the deployment, however, was civilians exchanging fire in what posed a high risk for full-fledged clashes erupting.

Unnamed security officials have said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then-defense minister Avigdor Liberman approved the transfer of armored cars to the PA over nine months ago, at Washington’s request. The Israeli decision came in the wake of the financial crisis that left the PA grappling with security after Tel Aviv deducted funds from Palestinian tax returns.

For Israel’s part, it seized the funds to punish the PA for issuing remittances to the families of prisoners in Israeli jails. This has evolved into a crisis that is a source of concern when put in contrast with the widening of security chaos.

An Israeli official revealed that the PA had requested approval for obtaining the armored cars four years ago, but Israel had refused. But after gaining Washington’s backing, the PA was given the green light to roll in the wagons.

In February the security cabinet approved cutting $138 million in funds to the PA, the amount Israeli officials say the PA paid out in stipends to attackers and their families in 2018.

The deductions have led the PA to refuse all tax transfers from Israel, forcing Ramallah to launch austerity measures to tackle the budgetary shortfall.

This has included cuts to the salaries of employees, among them members of the security forces.

An Israeli official had said the PA requested the cars some four years ago, but Israel refused. Till today, the PA received 10 vehicles provided by the European Union and which entered the West Bank through Jordan, where Palestinian security personnel received extensive training.

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