Gaza bodyguards open first private security firm
Posted on July 3rd, 2014
Sakher Abou El Oun, AFP
As hoards of excited fans scramble to reach Arab Idol winner Mohammed Assaf, they are pushed back by a group of tough-looking men in shades – the face of Gaza’s first private security firm.
Guarding the young singer on a rare trip back to his hometown is the very first assignment for “Secure Land,” a newly-formed team of bodyguards whose mandate covers everything from minding VIPs, securing hotels and businesses to ensuring the safe delivery of cash in transit.
“This is our first day on the job and we are securing Arab Idol star Mohammed Assaf,” Secure Land’s executive director Bilal al-Arabid told AFP.
“We have a team of 18 people protecting him, not including the drivers. This is our first mission protecting such a personality.”
As Assaf drove up to Palestine University in a UN car, his Secure Land minders followed in their own vehicle, a white-and-red company logo plastered to the door: “Secure Land. We make it happen,” it reads, all in English.
It’s a family business and Arabid’s father, Abdel Kader, serves as its chief executive.
“We thought seriously about this service after we talked to institutions, companies and people, and found they accepted the idea because this sort of service is just not available in Gaza,” the father said.
But getting a permit to operate such a business from the Hamas-run government was not easy – largely because none of the employees belong to any of Gaza’s many armed factions.
“The permits for the business were late coming because of the ‘sensitivity’ of the issue,” he said, explaining it was the first time that Hamas had allowed such a company to operate.
In Gaza, Hamas does not allow private individuals except in special rare cases to carry arms – unless they are a card-carrying member of one of the factions.
By taking over the protection of many civilian institutions, Secure Land can even help to “ease the burden” on the Hamas police and security forces, because such operations “demand a lot of manpower,” Arabid said.