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U.S. Gov’t Spent Millions Training Palestinian Security Group That Allegedly Harbors Anti-Israel Terrorists

US-trained Palestinian Security Force. carolineglick.com
US-trained Palestinian Security Force. carolineglick.com

By: Robert Schmad, Daily Caller News Foundation

Dozens of members of the State Department-funded Palestinian Authority security forces have reportedly been involved in recent attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers, translations of Palestinian media show.

Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), an Israeli watchdog group, translated social media posts and broadcasts produced by Fatah, the ruling party in the West Bank, and found that it praised dozens of members of the Palestinian Authority security forces for having attacked Israelis. The State Department has spent more than $170 million supporting the Palestinian Authority security forces since 2007, providing things like weapons training and communications infrastructure, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation review of federal contract data.

Fatah, which controls the Palestinian Authority, has openly bragged about the Palestinian Authority’s security forces alleged involvement in attacks on Israelis, according to PMW’s translations.

“I think that the entire Palestinian people and the whole world has [recently] seen that more than 1,500 military operations against the Israeli occupation were led by the Fatah Movement members and the [PA] Security Forces members,” a party official said on a Palestinian government television program in March 2023, according to PMW.

The Palestinian Authority is the Washington-backed government in the West Bank. The Biden administration hopes the body can govern Gaza once the conflict between Israel and Hamas comes to a close, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“More than two-thirds of the martyrs in the West Bank over the last year and a half belong to the Fatah movement and the PA … More than 355 of our Palestinian people’s prisoners inside [Israeli] prisons are from the Palestinian Security Forces—in other words, the PA’s soldiers,” a Fatah-run television show host said, according to PMW.

Fatah Deputy Chairman Mahmoud Al-Aloul described the Palestinian Authority security forces as part of “one unit in dealing with this [Israeli] occupation,” according to a PMW translation of the Fatah Commission of Information and Culture’s Facebook page.

PMW identified more than 50 members of the Palestinian Authority security forces that have allegedly been involved in terrorism directed against Israelis since 2020 by translating public materials produced by Fatah. Examples included clashes with soldiers, shooting at civilians and planning terrorist attacks, among other things.

Hamdi Shaker Abu Dayya Al-Zama’reh, then a member of Palestinian Authority security forces, reportedly opened fire on a bus full of Israeli civilians in January 2023, according to PMW’s translation of a video produced by Fatah. Israeli soldiers killed him days later in a firefight.

Abdallah Abu Shalal, another member of the Palestinian Authority security forces, allegedly led a “cell of terrorists [that] was on its way to committing an attack” before he was killed, according to PMW’s translation of Israeli and Palestinian statements.

Ahmed Taha, another security force member, reportedly conspired to run over and stab Israelis, according to PMW’s translation of a Fatah video. At least 20 members of the Palestinian Authority security forces have allegedly shot at Israeli soldiers since 2020, according to PMW’s translations.

The Palestinian Authority security forces ostensibly exist to maintain peace in the West Bank and to coordinate with Israel on security operations, though it has been involved in domestic repression operations and clashes with Israelis, accordingto The Washington Post. “Without the coordination, a bloody intifada would break out,” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told Haaretz in 2016.

Security forces in the West Bank have long received support from the United States government through the State Department.

The State Department in December offered a contract seeking to pay a third party to build a “Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) training facility for the Palestinian Security Forces” in the West Bank, according to solicitation records. The facility will be “modern and suitable for training that provides greater weapons proficiency both in static and dynamic conditions” for the Palestinian Authority’s security forces, according to the contract description.

A State Department official told the DCNF in December that the contract will aid in “enabling the United States to achieve its Middle East Peace policy objectives.”

The training facility “will enhance the rule of law in the West Bank and provide Palestinians greater protection against crime and violence while combating the terrorism that threatens regional stability,” according to the State Department official.

The special weapons training facility is only the most recent instance of the State Department backing an armed organization whose members have reportedly attacked Israeli civilians and soldiers.

The State Department spent $173 million between 2007 and 2014 on “training and support[ing]” the Palestinian Authority’s security forces, according to a federal contract description. In 2015, the department approved more than a quarter-million in funds to offer “specialized training” to Palestinian Authority security forces.

In 2018, the State Department awarded more than half a million to design a new radio system for the West Bank’s security forces, according to a federal contract description. The department also spent about $1.5 million between 2017 and 2019 on a “transformation program” for the Palestinian Authority’s security sector.

“We remain committed to working with the PA and Palestinian civil society on the critical work needed to advance reforms such that the PA can most effectively deliver for the Palestinian people,” a spokesperson for the department told the DCNF.

“This includes reinforcing commitments to non-violence and countering terrorism.”

The Trump administration cut more than $200 million in general Palestinian aid in 2018, citing the fact that Hamas, a U.S.-designated terror organization, controlled Gaza. The Biden administration restored Palestinian aid funding in 2021.

The Biden administration announced $235 million in Palestinian aid funding in 2021, $316 million in 2022 and an additional $100 million in 2023, following the October 7 terrorist attacks.

The State Department published a contract solicitation in July 2023 seeking “400 sets of Personal Protective Equipment” for members of the Palestinian Authority’s security forces.

The department’s support of the armed Palestinians doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced in March 2022 that his department would spend $45 million to bolster the Palestinian security sector.

When asked about reports of Palestinian Authority security personnel attacking Israelis, the State Department spokesperson said that “as a general matter, we do not offer official assessments of external reports.”

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