TEL AVIV (Sep. 22)
Israeli authorities are currently selecting candidates from among those volunteering to serve as part of an Israeli police force in Haiti.
Gavriel Amir, the retired chief police inspector and former prison commissioner, will head the Israeli contingent, which will include 30 current members of the police as well as retirees.
The Israeli detachment will be part of a 1,500-member international team of police that will take over civilian peacekeeping duties in Haiti. The force will follow the arrival of American forces there this week.
It is not yet known when the Israelis and other members of the international peacekeeping force will go to Haiti.
The police will be equipped with pistols and will be instructed to open fire only in self-defense, Amir said.
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin authorized the contingent on Sept. 11, after President Clinton telephoned for Israeli assistance in the effort to bring democratic rule to Haiti.
Clinton did not request Israeli military involvement, but was seeking civilian police participation to bring about the return of law and order in Haiti.
While the exact duties of the international civilian peacekeeping force have not yet been defined, the Israelis chosen for the police unit are expected to begin learning the rudiments of the Creole patois spoken by the majority of the islanders.
The official language of Haiti is French, but the local population uses a Creole tongue spoken by few people outside the Caribbean nation.