[Ramallah] Fatah has dismantled its armed branch Al-Aq’sa Martyrs Brigades, said Interior Minister ‘Abd A-Razzaq Al-Yahya.
This is a first step towards breaking up all armed groups operating in Palestinians areas, said Al-Yahya, whom is considered the strongest minister to have held the portfolio.
“The operation is underway to dismantle all Islamic and other militias,” he told local media.
He expressed the hope that all groups will cooperate with the security plan to disarm and disband, warning if they fail to do so of their own volition, the security forces will disarm them and collect what he called their “illegal weapons.” In the Hebron area, it appears some members of the brigades are refusing to cooperate.
Early this month, members of the brigades, most of whom are wanted by the Israeli security forces, agreed to put their weapons down after Israel backed a Palestinian Authority plan to disarm the Fatah men and merge them into the official security forces.
For months, Palestinian and Israeli security officials have been discussing the idea, which would include an Israeli amnesty that would allow them to resume a normal life without fear of being killed or arrested by Israeli forces.
The process of merging into the official. security forces was carried out according to a decree issued in June by P.A. head Mahmoud ‘Abbas. The decree also called for disbanding Al-Aq’sa brigades after collecting its weapons.
The move was part of an overall Palestinian security plan to enforce the rule of law and end armed chaos in the areas that under full P.A. control.
The decision was also part of a P.A. obligation under the international Road Map peace plan that demands the Palestinians end all acts of violence a prior to the resumption of peace talks with Israel.
Refuting accusations from Hamas that dismantling militias was a P.A. decision to put an end to resistance, prior to ending Israeli occupation, Al-Yahya asserted that the plan is designed to build strong security forces in preparation for the future state.
Al-Aq’sa Martyrs Brigades was formed with the start of the uncontrolled violence that swept through the area from September 2000. Its members were all recruited from the Palestinian security forces in order to form militias to fight “the Israeli occupation.”
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