Force 17

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Force 17 (Arabic: القوة 17‎) was a commando and special operations unit of the Palestinian Fatah movement and later of the Office of the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority. It was formed in the early 1970s by Ali Hassan Salameh (Abu Hassan).[1]


Force 17 was formed by Ali Hassan Salameh in the 1970s in an attempt to professionalize Fatah's intelligence services.[2] Force 17 was also initially responsible Yassar Arafat's personal security.[3]

In 1995 the unit was largely absorbed by Fatah into an official unit of the Palestinian Authority's Palestinian Security Services in order to counterbalance the growing strength of Palestinian Islamist factions.[4]


In 2007, there was a plan to dismantle Force 17 and incorporate it into the Presidential Guard of President Mahmoud Abbas.[5]


  • September 1985: Gunmen allegedly part of Force 17 stormed a yacht moored in Larnaca, Cyprus killing three Israeli citizens.[6] PLO authorities at the time denied involvement.[7]
  • December 1985: Force 17 claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and murder of IDF soldier Moshe Levi. His body was found burning near Mazor.[8]

Counter operations[edit]

  • On January 28, 2001, the IDF captured six members of Force 17, who were believed responsible for the shooting deaths of at least seven Israelis in the Ramallah area, including Binyamin Kahane and his wife Talya Kahane. Binyamin Kahane was the son of Kach leader and Rabbi Meir Kahane.[9]
  • February 2001, an Israeli helicopter fired a missile killing prominent Force 17 member Massoud Ayyad.[10]


According to most reports Force 17 was founded in the early 1970s by Ali Hassan Salameh.[11] In 1979 Salameh and his bodyguards were assassinated in Beirut by Israeli intelligence.[12]

Mahmoud Awad Damra reportedly commanded Force 17.[1] In 2006, he was sentenced by an Israeli court to 15 years in prison for his role in planning several attacks against Israel. He was released as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Who are Force 17?". BBC. December 4, 2001. 
  2. ^ Bird, Kai (2014). The Good Spy. 
  3. ^ "Palestinian Political Organizations". PBS. Retrieved October 28, 2014. 
  4. ^ "القوة 17والجناح العسكري لفتح". BBC. December 1, 2006. 
  5. ^ "Abbas to dismantle Force 17". Ynet News. August 10, 2007. 
  6. ^ "3 Israelis Slain by Palestinians in Cyprus". The New York Times. September 26, 1985. 
  7. ^ "Israel Asks Cyprus to Extradite Pro-Palestinian Gunmen Accused of Killing 3 Aboard Yacht". Los Angeles Times. September 27, 1985. 
  8. ^ "Kidnappings of IDF Soldiers". Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved October 28, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Israel Security Agency IDF forces arrested terrorists suspected of shootings". Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved October 28, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Arafat aide killed in helicopter ambush". The Telegraph. February 14, 2001. 
  11. ^ "The Wooing of the Red Prince". Newsweek. May 20, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Robert C Ames and the death of an American view of the Middle East". The National. June 19, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Terrorist released in Schalit deal named PA adviser". The Jerusalem Post. January 2, 2012.