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600 Palestinian Police Deploy in Hebron

Israel is allowing the Palestinian Authority to extend its control of the West Bank. Robert Berger reports from the VOA bureau in Jerusalem.

Nearly 600 Palestinian police deployed in the volatile West Bank town of Hebron. Commanders say the aim it to crack down on militants and criminals.

Israel approved the deployment to strengthen Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, both of whom want to curb the influence of the Islamic militant group Hamas.

The group seized control of the Gaza Strip last year, routing Mr. Abbas's Fatah forces in a Palestinian civil war. Since then, Mr. Abbas has headed a more moderate government in the West Bank that is negotiating with Israel for the creation of a Palestinian state.

In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum condemned the deployment of Palestinian police in Hebron.

He accused Mr. Abbas of collaborating with Israel to crackdown on Hamas and the Palestinian resistance, while strengthening the Israeli occupation. .

Hebron is the West Bank's largest city and the third to be reinforced with Palestinian police loyal to President Abbas.

Israel still controls the Tomb of the Patriarchs, which is sacred to both Jews and Muslims, and the nearby Hebron Jewish settlement. The 500 settlers who live there are furious over the deployment. They say that in the past, Palestinian police have turned their weapons on the Jews.