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PA appoints intelligence chief as minister overseeing security forces

Ziad Hab al-Reeh named interior minister, while Hatem al-Bakri, a well-known Hebron religious leader, handed the job of religious affairs minister in cabinet reshuffle

Newly appointed Palestinian Authority Interior Minister Ziad Hab al-Reeh shakes PA premier Mohammad Shtayyeh's hand after formally receiving his portfolio on Sunday, January 2, 2022 (WAFA)
Newly appointed Palestinian Authority Interior Minister Ziad Hab al-Reeh shakes PA premier Mohammad Shtayyeh's hand after formally receiving his portfolio on Sunday, January 2, 2022 (WAFA)

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh formally appointed Palestinian intelligence commander Ziad Hab al-Reeh to the post of interior minister on Sunday.

Hab al-Reeh, a longtime Fatah activist, arrives in his job overseeing the security forces straight from the top spot in the PA’s powerful Preventative Security force.  The Ma’an newswire reported that several candidates were being considered to take his spot at the agency.

Hatem al-Bakri, a well-known Hebron religious leader, was also handed the job of religious affairs minister on Sunday. Both positions had been held by Shtayyeh since he assumed office in 2019.

The two ministers formally swore oaths in front of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday night, according to Abbas’s office.

Hab al-Reeh’s appointment marks the first time the PA will have an Interior Minister in seven years.

The ministry is charged — among other tasks — with overseeing the conduct of the PA security forces, which have come under increasing scrutiny in recent months.

A man stands with his chest bared during clashes between Palestinian protesters and Palestinian security forces in the city of Ramallah in the West Bank, on June 26, 2021, following a demonstration against the death of human rights activist Nizar Banat while in the custody of Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces earlier in the week. (ABBAS MOMANI / AFP)

In June, PA officers allegedly beat opposition figure Nizar Banat to death during a raid on his Hebron hideout. Banat’s death sparked widespread protests, which were brutally suppressed by PA police, sparking international criticism.

In closed meetings with Palestinian officials, European diplomats asked for tighter oversight of the security forces following the crackdown, diplomatic sources said at the time.

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