GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) – The Palestinian police chief said Thursday his forces have begun enforcing a ban on public displays of weapons, a key step toward imposing order in the chaotic Gaza Strip.
"Today we started to implement a decision taken by the president and national forces," police chief Ala Husni told a news conference. He said police confiscated weapons from three people who violated the ban.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas announced the ban on weapons displays last week, saying it was a first step toward imposing law and order in Gaza. Israel says Abbas must dismantle the many militant groups and armed gangs operating in Gaza in order to resume peace talks.
Abbas says all weapons should be under the control of the Palestinian Authority and urged militants to disarm, but he has rejected Israel”s calls to confront the militants.
Husni said that following Israel”s recent withdrawal from Gaza, there is no longer any need for people to carry weapons, unless they are members of security forces.
"The role of resistance weapons has ended in the streets. They should go back into storage and they should not show up in the streets," he said. "Any weapon now in the street is a criminal weapon."
He said all of the Palestinian factions have accepted the decision.
The militant group Hamas, the largest Palestinian opposition group, said last week it would honor the ban.
Twenty-one people were killed at a Hamas rally last week when explosives displayed on the back of a truck blew up. Although Hamas blamed Israel for the blast, Palestinian officials have said the explosion was caused by the mishandling of explosives.