The Jerusalem Post

30 June 2003

The Palestinian Authority has no intention of disarming armed Palestinian groups, the head of the PA Preventive Security Service in the Gaza Strip, Rashid Abu Shabak, announced on June 29. "Those who think that the road map plan means disarming Palestinian factions are mistaken," he said.

Speaking to Palestinian journalists in Gaza City, Abu Shabak, who is wanted by Israel for his role in terror attacks against Jewish settlers and soldiers in the Gaza Strip, said PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas assured representatives of all the factions he met with over the past few weeks that they would be allowed to keep their weapons. "Today all the factions are convinced that a cease-fire agreement is not designed to confiscate their weapons," he added.

Abu Shabak, who took over his job from Muhammad Dahlan, the current PA minister of state for security affairs, said a cease-fire agreement is aimed at "forcing Israel to carry out its obligations regarding putting an end to the assassinations and incursions, as well as the release of all the Palestinian prisoners."

Abu Shabak said the PA would do its utmost to prevent inter-Palestinian fighting, warning that his forces would not allow any faction to drag the Palestinians into a civil war.

He also rebuffed allegations that his force was collaborating with Israel in thwarting terrorist attacks, claiming that the PSS was also being targeted by Israel. He said Israel's military "aggression" against the Palestinians hasn't stopped for a moment. "Each time we are close to an agreement with the other factions, Israel tries to foil such an agreement by stepping up its attacks or assassinating resistance fighters," he said. "This has been the case ever since we returned to the homeland and the PA was established."

Abu Shabak also claimed that Israel doesn't want the Palestinian to reach any agreement because that would mean it must fulfill its obligations as defined by the road map.

Asked about rumors in the Gaza Strip that the PSS has already begun arresting members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Abu Shabak replied: "I challenge all those who are talking about this to provide us with the name of one Palestinian fighter who is being held by the Palestinian security forces. All the Palestinians, including the security forces and the resistance fighters, are prisoners in the occupation jails."

Abu Shabak vowed to continue chasing Palestinians suspected of collaboration with Israel, saying his men managed to arrest several people who allegedly helped in the assassination of some Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists. He noted that some of the suspects have been executed and others have been sentenced to death.

"We are waiting for President Yasser Arafat to approve the death sentences so that we can execute them," he added.

(By Khaled Abu Toameh, The Jerusalem Post, June 30, 2003)