A fascinating AP story on the chaos that reigns in the Palestinian territories:
NABLUS, West Bank -- Policeman Jouma Ahmad settled the score the way he felt best -- by shooting his enemy nine times, right in the middle of a police station. ..
Ahmad, who was arrested after shooting and critically wounding a man he said stabbed his brother, said he had no regrets. "If someone beats you, you have to beat him back," he said in his jail in Nablus, one of the West Bank's most chaotic cities where police are trying hard to regain people's trust.
The excuse follows immediately -- and naturally, Israel is to blame:
Four years of fighting with Israel have severely weakened the Palestinian police force and strengthened gunmen, who effectively rule many Palestinian towns. Wild rampages by gun-wielding militants have wracked several Palestinian towns in recent weeks.
Never mind that this time, the "police force" seemed a little too strong, and not really concerned for all that rule-of-law nonsense. But then there's this:
Ordinary Palestinians are fed up, and that could cost Abbas' ruling Fatah party its majority in parliamentary elections in July, with the militant Hamas group expected to take up the slack.
So Palestinians, sick of "gun-wielding militants" are going to elect Hamas?!? No wonder they can't build a functional society.
The blame-Israel game then takes a turn towards comic absurdity that the AP reporter can't ignore:
But Palestinians say it will be difficult if not impossible to restore order unless Israel provides more breathing room, removing checkpoints, releasing prisoners and halting settlement activity.
"Our people want to see us functioning ... because they are craving security and safety," Tareq Zaid, the police commander in Nablus, said at his shell-pocked headquarters. "But this chaos is because of Israel, which has occupied our town and surrounded us, even shelling the building we're in now."
Zaid quickly added, however, that gunmen were keeping their weapons out of view. "Nablus is OK now," he said.
Within moments of that statement, at a funeral for a militant who had accidentally shot himself, dozens of gunmen brandished M16 rifles and shot them into the air. One carried a rocket launcher.
And what do those brave Palestinian peace officers do when they aren't settling scores at work? Well...
Police in Nablus claim they are slowly regaining control of the city, but a jailhouse meeting with 29-year-old Mohammed, imprisoned for collaborating with Israel, attests to a reality in which gunmen still hold sway.
Mohammed, whose full name is not divulged in this story for his protection, said he confessed under torture to aiding an Israeli pilot in a mission to shell a Palestinian police target in 2001.
Yes, by all means, let's negotiate a "peace" with these people, so that they can have a state.
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