Major G. Hazim Atallah the Chief of Police in an Exclusive Interview with Al-Hadath Newspaper

Major G. Hazim Atallah the Chief of Police in an Exclusive Interview with Al-Hadath Newspaper
Published at: 2016/12/08 - 11:40 pm

There is an introduction to the crisis before we start talking about anything to do with policing.

Police Counts 8500, which is not enough and we still aspire to get to 11,500.

We controlled over large quantities of weapons and stolen cars, in addition to large quantities of drugs, and the question is where it comes from.

We have no problem with the sudden visits of human rights institutions to detention centers of the police custodies.

We are ready to join the Interpol, and the issue is political not a technical, and we are determined to complete the road to the end.

I am a soldier, I am in this position to serve my country, and I serve where the Supreme headquarter sees I must be.
As Chief of the police, what is your assessment of the current security status?

Before talking about the security we must be comprehensive about of the environment in which the security is working, otherwise the subject will be not fully completed, which will lead to a great injustice to the security work.
First of all we are working under occupation, and we have limitations in movement, and when we move from one place to another, we need to have security coordination , and everyone knows that the region is divided into a, B and c, and all these divisions leave their consequences on the whole security system  .
On the other hand, security and other belongings associated with the financial side, and even psychological. When people talk about security, they take a rosy picture, but the big question is, in what conditions the security man works, and how much his salary is, as an example.

I firmly Believe that if we look at the policeman salary, and the working hours he performed, in addition to the difficulties he faced, we'll see that the circumstances in which security man passes is not easy, and in many cases it requires him to be a judge, or a psychologist, sociologist and perhaps a translator, as if he should have six or seven personalities in one.
This is the introduction to the crisis that which we must speak about before we start talking about anything to do with security.

When we talk about security in anyplace in the world we should first compare it with other countries and also take into consideration the existing conditions. For example, when we talk about an independent and sovereign country, it will be able to spend on their units, also to manage them perfectly.  The most important forms of sovereignty are the ability to implement the law and apply justice, and this is implemented by the good relations with our nationals, so we consider that we live in a safe relatively environment, I say relatively because of the presence of the occupation and limitations, Mr. Atallah said.

Can we measure the stabilization in security by the number of accidents, or the types of crimes, or what?
There are many ways to measure security which are related to the number of population, the rate and type of crime, and if we compare all these ways with the others, and the countries surrounding us, we will find out that we live in a safe community, a community lives under hard conditions but in a special way for example, the number of crimes that registered against unknown, we can see that it doesn’t exceed 15% of the whole crimes, and the rest of the crimes and criminals were detected.

With regard to the Judgments issued by courts, we have an execution rate exceeding 85%, and am sure that this rate cannot be reached in many countries, and this success is linked to the good relationship with the citizen, and I always say we solve many cases with the help of the citizens, and in many cases we can’t do anything without such help. Although we have specialized and qualified officers, who hold doctoral and master's degrees, but this is a knowledge that needs by locals, He said.

There are a lot of details that we will not get in because we don’t want the law breakers know how we work, but again I feel that there is a relative stability; it is not possible to be under occupation and have a full stability. Also, the issue of stability is not linked to the supreme headquarter location,  as if Ramallah is more stable than others ,it is true that the presidency and Government are there , but also there are large numbers of international and foreign missions, so  is it  appropriate for Palestine to offend their guests? This question is a way of  politics, am talking about our  popular morals toward our guests, so we offer them not only protection, but also services, and I say this with pride, even when  it is raining here We run toward these people before heading to our people and ask them about their needs. As a result of this situation, the presence of all of these diplomatic missions in Ramallah and the presence of the presidency and the government, and the leaders of the security bodies, the situation will be different in Ramallah from other areas.
This leads me to another question, what is the number of police officers? Is it associated with the efficiency of police in some areas from others? For example, Hebron has the largest population and it has only 700 police officers.
Regarding the number of police officers, there is an international standard  which is not associated only to Palestine, nor the chief  of the Palestinian police, this rule says that there are five principles to be the basis of determining the police numbers in any country in the world; the geographical area in which the police is working, the  number of population, and the rate of crime and the level of preparation of the police forces, and the most importantly, the financial potential of the state.
We had a direction and a plan since 2008 or 2009, and the plane had been adopted, that we need 11000-11500 policeman, am talking only about the police institution, but we couldn’t reach that number yet.

When I was designated as the chief of police in 2008 there were 6350 police man, and now we are 8500, and we still fight and aspire to reach 11,500 policemen.
Hebron is a very good example as you said, it is the largest governorate in terms of population, and the number of police forces is not enough for Hebron, I know that but we will keep going to serve our citizens in the best way.  Of course It’s not true that all the police forces are gathered in Ramallah, we have 64 police stations located in A and B areas, which are supposed to work 24 hour, every center needs between 30 to 50 officer. People sometimes do not know how this institution works; they forget that the policeman is a human, as normal people works 8 hours a day, we work 24 hours.
In all cases and although the number is not enough , but in many cases, we have been working to increase our  efficiency, for example, we focus  on training for officers to raise their efficiency, which can give the officers the ability to solve any case in a short time . Many of Our officers received trainings in various European countries and Arab states, and everyone knows that they are very professional, and I am proud to lead such men, because at the end we are here to serve the people.
Would police go out in a Joint patrols, for example when you have a lack in forces?
Of course it is possible; we have close cooperation with the national security forces, we work side by side in many missions when we need them. The level of relationship and coordination now very different from it was in previous years; now we are coordinating very well, and we are proud that we are one security institution, have one mind and one heart.

Back to the security situation, what is the situation in Nablus nowadays?
First of all I refuse to say that there is a problem in any area, we have a lawbreakers and wanted people, and this is not exceptional for one area from another.
Yes, we have had a range of issues in Nablus, but this does not mean that such issues do not happen in Hebron or in Bethlehem, it could happen anywhere, and part of what happened in Nablus was treated, regardless the way of treatment. Now we still have a group of wanted people, from five to seven people, in which some of them are accused of murder, and the story is not associated to politic or economy, but the rights of the people.
What about the outlaw Weapons especially in Nablus, Jenin , Ramallah, and elsewhere, when we will get rid of this?

In this issue, we must understand many facts that do not need to argue, we have two types of weapons, the first military or paramilitary, which is purchased, and the second type which is manufactured by some people, and we do not control our Borders, so the big question is how these weapons reach the hands of the people?
In the matter of manufacturing, it is made in the lathes and factories, and we do not accept that this weapon will be exist in the hands of the people. Recently, the security forces, not just the police, gathered large numbers of weapons, and we will continue in this matter, the reason is simple, this weapon is often used against the Palestinian, the Palestinian use it to kill his brother, and we have evidence of registered cases; therefore there is no interest in this weapon, and this requires our people to be cooperative, and we are making great efforts on this level, and it still needs to do more effort.
We also have another problem, , the fireworks, and everyone knows that it could be used as a weapon, and we ask the question another time, where it comes from?
But there are arms dealers, well-known names?
If you have any information about them, I'm ready.
I'm not talking about just the arms, we are working on drugs reports, and there are a known drug dealers?
I am responsible for my words, I am the chief of police, and we deal with all information that we received, and no one is greater than the law, and the duty of the police is to do its best at all levels to deal with these individuals.

We as a police seize stuffs related to drugs, and I do not accuse the occupation of our weakness, but I do not control the borders. For example we have collected 6950 stolen and illegal cars during last months; the question is if I could control their entry, then I am sure we will reduce this phenomenon and get rid of it.
But the campaigns that Palestinian police do are a temporary, do we need to increase it, also strengthen the penalties to make law-abiding part of our culture?

Police institution was the first to protest against the past law in the matter of drug sanctions, which was no longer a deterrent; also we called for partnership with the Ministry of Justice and a number of legal advisers in the police to change it, until the current system became more efficient than the previous system. For example, in past the Anti Narcotics would work on the case for a week at a cost of up to 2,000 or 3,000 shekels; to arrest a person who will pay 50 JD in the court and get released.
So this caused kind of disappointment for the officers but now the system has become more deterrent. In this matter specifically there are a partnership between us and the community in the application of security, and we are the only ones in the area where the parents who deliver their children of drug addicted, we are, in other words, there is a high awareness in the community of the seriousness of this phenomenon, but this is a war, and did not come by coincidence. This is so serious, and we are working very hard, but there are loads of drugs still enter, so we call our citizens to tell the police when they got any information, we as a police was found for our citizens, so we are cooperating with people to fight this phenomenon.

There is a positive outlook of the citizens towards the police, but how we interpret the observations of human rights organizations on this institution, specifically on the subject of torturing?
I care about this subject personally, and in my office there is a department related to grievances and human rights, and any citizen can come and complain, without going to human rights organizations or any other agency, also all detention and custody centers are opened twenty-four hours for the international Red Cross, and in front of human rights organizations, and I do not pretend that we are perfect, but we are making great efforts in this matter, but the biggest problem is how we define torture, I’m not saying that torture should leave marks on the body, there is psychological torture, and there is torture without touching, but in the policing work errors may occur,  and I can tell you that the perpetrators of these errors were punished, we have the red cross reports that prove all what I said.

So why you don’t allow the sudden visits from human rights organizations to detainees in police custodies?
This is not true; we allow human rights organizations to visit police detention centers,
After coordination and this is unlike other security bodies which allow sudden visits?
All the detainees are here because they committed a crime, and they are arrested by inspection warrant from the DA office or the court.(He said)
So what's the problem in allowing sudden visits?
We have no problem.(He said)

Tell me about your preparations for Fatah Seventh Conference?

This conference have a great value for all, it has an impact on  the Palestinian people future in general,  we divide this subject into two parts in the matter of security, our external preparations, and internal preparations which we  have nothing to do with, and what I want to emphasize is that through the last years the Palestinian security has  a very high experience, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that ,because we have received massage of thanks , we've received three American presidents in addition to other states ministers and prime ministers, the pontiff three times, and I think the performance was great.

So the conference will be covered in the same way, we start from the presidential guards, then we go down towards the rest of the other security bodies, all within its competence, and I firmly believe that our preparations and experience is great in this matter, we will deal only in accordance with law and order .This is a political conference, so the general status should be calm and stable without any chaos, it should be democratic.
So, do you think Hamas would raise problems in the West Bank?
Hamas exists as a Palestinian party, so it is difficult to divide the problems toward a partisan or political, but our instructions and the law say that we have to deal with anyone who intends to break the laws, and I think that everyone knows that, and when it comes to law violation, whether from Hamas or others, we will act immediately and stop them. In general, we do not feel that there is anything strange so far, this is the situation, and they are an exist party, and as the other parties we have no problem with them as long as they submitted to law.

We have applied to join the (Interpol), Are the Palestinian police ready for this step?
Yes of course we are ready, Interpol has its laws, regulations and mechanisms, they ask about many of the issues that should be available in any party wants to join. We seek international expertise, and everyone knows that the Palestinian police have good relations with the Europeans, and we have EUPOL COPPS which we cooperate with in many technical details, we asked for help from a lot of European countries on the subject of Interpol to prepare ourselves perfectly, so we are ready.
The refusal of our application is a political issue not technicall, because there is no reason for this refusal especially that we have an office and we are waiting a visit from the Interpol, it is complicated, but we are ready and we will continue the way.

M.General Hazim Atallah you are a professional chief of police, but if you think to work outside the security sector in future, where do you find yourself ?
This is a difficult question, I did not think about it yet, I am a military man at first, and the soldier receives orders and instructions, and I serve my country, whether in the military or civil field, of course, non-judicial field because I am not a jurist, except that I am a soldier works where the Supreme headquarter sees I must be. As long as I serve in this position, I will give my best.

All comments reflect the views of the owners and not the views of the Palestinian police


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