But in a sign of ongoing lawlessness, a previously unknown group said it had kidnapped three leaders of the Islamic group Hamas (search) in three West Bank towns. The al-Farouk bin al-Khatab Brigades (search) accused Hamas of putting itself above the law.
But since Israel's withdrawal last month from the Gaza Strip (search), where the lawlessness is most extreme, Palestinians have increasingly demanded a restoration of order.
Threatened by the instability, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas (search) has ordered his forces to rein in criminals and enforce a ban on public displays of weapons. This has led to fierce gunbattles with Hamas militants. In the toughest battle, three Palestinians, including a policeman, were killed this week.