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Palestine: The recruitment practices of the Palestinian National Forces, and a description of the identification used by security personnel who are employed by the Gaza Airport Security Detachment

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 25 February 2003
Citation / Document Symbol PAL40427.E
Reference 5
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Palestine: The recruitment practices of the Palestinian National Forces, and a description of the identification used by security personnel who are employed by the Gaza Airport Security Detachment, 25 February 2003, PAL40427.E, available at: [accessed 27 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

The Defense and Foreign Affairs Handbook indicates that

The Palestinian Authority (PA) is not permitted, under the terms of its bilateral treaties with Israel, to have a "military force" and its entire defense establishment is confined to a police force with paramilitary capabilities and a series of intelligence organs. The strength and structure of the police is grounded in the numerous agreements with Israel. However, these are not enforced and consequently the actual size and equipment of the PA force exceeds [that which is] permitted (2002).

The Guardian, a Manchester-based newspaper, reports that the Palestinian National Forces are "regarded by the Palestinians as an army" even though they are "officially designated as police under interim peace deals with Israel" (15 May 2001).

An article posted on the Website of the Freeman Centre for Strategic Studies, which is based in Texas, states that the Palestinian police is

... a well trained army, indoctrinated for war against Israel. ... Most of the members of this army are not even disguised as policemen. They wear army uniforms, are organized in military units, get military training, and none of them have any idea about police duties or police work (Dec. 1998).

Under Annex I, Article IV (4) of the Oslo II Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the PA "is required to submit a list of all potential police recruits to Israel for approval to prevent known terrorists from joining the PA security forces," and that "should Israel object to the recruitment of any such candidate, that person shall not be recruited" (Israel 14 Apr. 1997). The PA, however, has failed to provide Israel with such listings and according to Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs,

... has proceeded to unilaterally recruit policemen without prior Israeli consent. The PA has submitted for Israeli approval only 18,000 of the 30,000 names of Palestinian policemen currently on active duty. As a result, at least 19 wanted terrorists are known to be serving in the Palestinian security forces or are in the process of joining its ranks (ibid.).

Additional information on the recruitment practices of the Palestinian National Forces could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

Information on the Gaza Airport Security Detachment of the Palestinian security forces could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Defense & Foreign Affairs Handbook. 2002. 15th ed. Alexandria, Virginia: International Strategic Studies Association.

Freeman Centre for Strategic Studies. December 1998. Professor Moshe Sharon. "Palestinian Ideology and Practice: 5 Years After Oslo." [Accessed 19 Feb. 2003]

The Guardian [Manchester]. 15 May 2001. Virginia Quirke. "Palestinian Fury as Israeli Troops Kill Five Policemen on West Bank." [Accessed 13 Feb. 2003]

Israel. 14 April 1997. Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "Unilateral Measures Taken by the Palestinian Authority in Violation of Oslo." [Accessed 19 Feb. 2003]

Additional Sources Consulted

Jane's Intelligence Review (Jan. 2000 to Jan. 2003)

Journal of Palestine Studies (Vol. XXVIII, No. 3, Spring 1999 to Vol. XXXI, No. 1, Autumn 2001)

Journal of South Asian & Middle Eastern Studies (Spring 2000 to Winter 2002)

The Middle East (Jan. 2000, No. 297, to Feb. 2003, No. 331)

Middle East International (14 Jan. 2000, No. 616, to 10 Jan. 2003, No. 691)

Middle East Report (Spring 2000, No. 214, to Winter 2002, No. 225)

World News Connection

Internet sites, including:

Amnesty International


Freedom House

Human Rights Watch - World Report (2001 to 2003)

Islamic Association for Palestine

The Palestine Chronicle

The Palestine Information Centre

Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group

Palestinian National Authority

Search engine:


Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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