Twenty-five Palestinian women to join the elite Presidential Guard commando unit 0704134

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Defence & Security News - Palestine

 
 
Monday, April 7, 2014 02:32 PM
 
Twenty-five Palestinian women to join the elite Presidential Guard commando unit.

Palestinian women who will become a part of the elite Presidential Guard stand during a training in Jericho, West Bank, on April 6, 2014. Twenty-five Palestinian women are set to become the first female members of the Presidential Guards, a Palestinian elite force of 2,600 men.

     
Palestinian women who will become a part of the elite Presidential Guard stand during a training in Jericho, West Bank, on April 6, 2014. Twenty-five Palestinian women are set to become the first female members of the Presidential Guards, a Palestinian elite force of 2,600 men.
Twenty-five Palestinian women are set to become the first female members of the Presidential Guards.
     

Women make up just 3 percent of 30,000 members of the Palestinian police and other security agencies in the West Bank, but there's a push to recruit more, said Brig. Rashideh Mughrabi, in charge of gender issues in the National Security Forces.

The female Presidential Guards recruits were picked from last year's graduating class of Independence University, a four-year security academy in Jericho that trains future officers.

For graduate Kurum Saad, the appeal was immediate. As a female officer, her traditional role would have been in administration, but she wanted adventure.

"I didn't want to sit in an office," the 23 year old said. "Since I was a little girl, I loved shooting and sports."

On Sunday, Saad and the others in her group put on black combat boots, camouflage uniforms and pulled black ski masks over the headscarves to show journalists what they'd learned in their special training.

Several women, including non-swimmers, were asked to jump into a pool as a show of courage. They dove in in full uniform, including boots, and one had to be pulled out by a lifeguard.

The Presidential Guards were established under the late Yasser Arafat, the globe-trotting Palestinian leader. Arafat spent most of his life in exile but returned to the Palestinian territories in 1994, as part of interim peace deals with Israel, and set up a self-rule government.

For now, the female Guards are only being drawn from the West Bank. In the Gaza Strip, which is not under Abbas' control and is ruled by the Islamic militant Hamas, about 400 women serve in the 16,000-strong security forces. They have undergone some training, including in martial arts, but work mostly in administrative jobs, including as border control officers and an anti-drug unit.

 

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