Crime wave in West Bank as unpaid cops turn rogue
SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
Thursday, December 12, 2002
JERUSALEM — Palestinians are undergoing a wave of crime and gang activity following the collapse of police services in the West Bank, according to Palestinian sources and local news reports.
Many of the members of the gangs are former Palestinian Authority police officers or Fatah insurgents, the sources said. They said they turned to crime after the the PA failed to pay their salaries.
The focus of the criminal activities is said to be in northern Jerusalem neighborhoods that had been under the civilian rule of the Palestinian Authority. PA police were deployed in the area until the escalation of the Israeli-PA war in 2001, Middle East Newsline reported.
Palestinian sources said as a result the area between Jerusalem and Ramallah have become lawless. The Anata refugee camp has been termed "Chicago" in a reference to the 1920s gang wars in the U.S. city.
Many Palestinians have sought to protect themselves from the gangs. For the first time in years, Palestinian newspapers contain advertisements for the sale of guard dogs.
The Palestinian sources said a network of gangs have appeared that extort from businessmen, steal property and other assets and work for those who want to eliminate their rivals. The sources said the gangs operate in the Jerusalem and Ramallah areas and face virtually no danger from being captured by either Israeli or Palestinian authorities.
On Wednesday, Palestinian dailies published announcements warning the public to beware of these gangs. The announcements disclosed the activities of the criminal network and its record of extortion and deception.
An announcement in the Al Quds daily called on the public to resist the gangs. The announcement said the criminal network sells illegal drugs, forges documents and seizes cars and land.
Israeli police, they said, have not responded to reports of criminal activity amid reinforcement of Jerusalem from Palestinian insurgents.