What is the military capability of the Palestinian Authority?

November 27, 2005 IMEU

The Palestinian Authority has no military as such. It has no army, navy, or air force. 

However, under the terms of the Oslo Accords, the PA was permitted to establish a police force of up to 30,000 members, who were authorized to carry light weapons (such as handguns, rifles, and light machine guns). 

The PA eventually established as many as 12 security agencies, with unclear and overlapping jurisdictions, and may have enlisted as many as 45,000 persons. Together, these forces possess a small number of armored cars and armored personnel carriers. 

Israel has alleged that the PA also violated the terms of the Oslo agreements by importing prohibited weapons, including mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, although these charges are unverified. On the other hand, PA security facilities and equipment suffered much damage when Israel reinvaded the West Bank in 2002. 

The pretext for the reinvasion was a Hamas suicide bombing in Netanya, Israel, that killed 29 Israelis celebrating Passover. But, Israel inflicted massive damage on all PA institutions (courts, ministries, police facilities, President Arafat's Ramallah compound) and public infrastructure (roads, sewers, street lighting), leading many Palestinians to believe that Israel's goal was to severely undermine any capacity for Palestinian self-government in the Occupied Territories. Israeli troops also destroyed or damaged many private homes, businesses, and vehicles.