Palestinian Security Services

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Creation of Palestinian security agencies was provided for in the Oslo Accords II. In addition to those authorized by the Accords, the Palestinian leadership has created a number of others (precisely how many is not known), some of which have been incorporated into a formal government structure and others that seem to be independent. Most originated in entities overseen by the council of security of al-Fatah (Jihaz al-Amn al-Qawmi al-Filastini), directed by Salah Khalaf (Abu Ayad) and by the unified command of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) security (al-Amn al-Muwahhad). The ten main security and police forces are grouped in the General Security Services (GSS), an umbrella organization headed by a director general who reports to Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian Authority (PA)'s president.

They include Aerial Police (al-Shurta al-Jawiya), a very small unit with five helicopters. Civil Defense (al-Difaʾa al-Madani), which provides fire and rescue services. Civil Police (al-Shurta al-Madaniya), which is a conventional police force of roughly 10,000 members; the main civil law enforcement agency. The Coast Guard (al-Shurta al-Bahariya) is an anti-smuggling unit with about 1,000 members on the Gaza coast. County Guard (Amn al-Mahafza) provides security for the district governors and their offices.

General Intelligence (Amn al-Mukhabarat al-Amm) is the main state intelligence agency, with approximately 3,000 members. Headed by General Amin al-Hindi. Military Intelligence (al-Istkhabarat al-Askariya) provides preventive intelligence, deployed against opponents of the PA and PLO. It is headed by Musa Arafat, Yasir Arafat's brother. The Military Police provides security for military installations and prisons; it is subordinate to Military Intelligence.

National Security (Quwat al-Amn al-Watani) is the largest security force, with a membership of more than 14,000. Preventive Security (al-Amn al-Wiqaʾi) is probably the most powerful security force, with a membership of approximately 5,000. Formally headed by Musbah Saqr but actually directed by Muhammad Dahlan in the Gaza Strip and Jibril Rajub in the West Bank.

Two additional security forces are not part of the GSS and are directly under the command of Arafat. Presidential Security (Amn al-Riʾasa) provides security for Yasir Arafat, PA officials, and diplomats. Headed by Faisal Abu Sharah. Most of its estimated 3,000 members formerly belonged to Force 17. The second is Special Security (al-Amn al-Khass), which is headed by Abu Yusuf al-Wahidi. Its function is believed to be to gather information on other security services.

On 20 July 2004 Arafat yielded to both internal and international pressure to reorganize and reduce the number of security agencies. He issued a decree that converts the twelve forces enumerated above into three national, general, and domestic security and intelligence forces. As of 2004, it is not yet clear what the practical results of this decree will be.

SEE ALSO Dahlan, Muhammad;Fatah, al-;Hindi, Amin al-;Khalaf, Salah;Rajub, Jibril.

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Palestinian Security Services

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Palestinian Security Services