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Showdown in Hebron?

The new Palestinian security forces deployed in the West Bank cities of Nablus (Shechem) and Jenin may have helped bring law and order to those cities – and given the Israelis greater confidence that Palestinian security is up to the task – but it’s going to be a lot harder in Hebron, where the new security forced must contend with opposition from Hamas and challenges by extremist Jews, reports Time magazine.

When Palestinian security forces moved into the lawless West Bank towns of Jenin and Nablus, all they had to worry about were the armed criminal gangs who had been shaking down shopkeepers and stealing cars — it didn’t take long to wrest control from the thugs. But Hebron, where 600 Palestinian forces rolled up over the weekend in shiny new white pick-up trucks, is far more dangerous, because it is a stronghold of Hamas and also the base of an extremist Jewish settler community. The Islamists see the new paramilitary unit as a U.S.- and Israeli-built proxy force to be used against them; while the settlers see the Palestinian security men as “terrorists in uniform,” and are threatening an armed showdown.

If this Ha’aretz report is any indication, however, the P.A. forces are doing their job pressuring Hamas:

The tunnel near Hebron uncovered about two weeks ago by the Palestinian Authority was used by Hamas as a firing range and for other weapons training, according to PA security officials.

The discovery of the tunnel is indicative of the kind of pressure the PA security forces are putting on the military wing of Hamas.

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