The ‘Intra’fada




فوضى السلاح

‘the chaos of the weapons’




An Analysis of Internal Palestinian Violence




Researched and Compiled by


Leonie Schultens


Translations by


Nadia Nusseibeh


Funded by


Representative Office of Finland- Ramallah


April 2004

The Palestinian Representatives


Saeb Erekat

Chief Palestinian Negotiator

Do we have an authority in Nablus? That’s the big question mark. Is the authority in Jenin, Qalqilyah, Tulkarm? The authority is there in name – but in practice?’

(Washington Post 29.02.2004)


Ziad Abu Amr

Minister of Information under Abu Mazen

‘Israel bears a great deal of responsibility, but I blame the Palestinian Authority for not doing what it should. We see almost daily violations of public order, and the authority does nothing. There is no accountability’

(New York Times 03.03.2004)


Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen)

Former Prime Minister

‘… Many people responded to the Israeli provocations, and the Intifada deviated from its natural course. They began, in an unprecedented manner, to use weapons and inventions at their disposal, such as mortars, grenades and other things, and to shoot from homes and neighborhoods… In light of this reality, and as a result of these operations, we are talking about a military battle, not a popular uprising expressing popular rage to which none can be opposed’

(Al-Hayat 26.11.2002)


Raji Sourani

Director of the Palestinian Human Rights Centre

‘There’s no way there will be a civil war [if Israel pulls out of Gaza]. Selective killings, maybe’

(Financial Times 18.02.2004)


Muhammad Dahlan

Former Chief of Security Forces

‘We have a red line. Palestinian society will not be dragged into domestic infighting… [In response] to the burning of a PA police station, we will burn down all the Hamas centres. We have goons just as they have goons’

(Al-Hayat 16.10.2002)


Zayyad Abu-Zayyad

Palestinian Legislative Council

‘Yes, we are in a state of anarchy…Certainly when a Palestinian policeman cannot walk around freely wearing his uniform, this creates a vacuum in which everyone does whatever one pleases’

(Jewish Telegraphic Agency 04.02.2004)



The Palestinian People




  • 39.5% of Palestinians perceive the performance of the PA as bad


  • 49.2% of Palestinians view the performance of the Legislative Council as bad


  • 27% of Palestinians do not trust any Palestinian personality


  • 28% of Palestinians do not trust any Palestinian political or religious faction


  • 54.1% of Palestinians do not feel the presence of the PA





  • If there were a mutual cessation of violence, 53% of Palestinians would support a crackdown on those continuing the violence


  • 80% of Palestinians worry that such a crackdown would lead to internal strife


  • 89% of Palestinians support internal and external calls for reform





  • 39.2% of Palestinians do not believe Abu Ala’a and his government will be able to control the security situation and enforce a ceasefire on all factions


  • 73% of Palestinians believe a continuation of violence will impede any peace negotiations







The Israelis



Colonel (Res.) Shalom Harari

Expert on Palestinian Affairs at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Centre

‘The story repeats itself every few months: Internal unrest in the Palestinian Authority reaches a heating point, Arafat makes a few moves to prove that he is in control but then lets go and allows the instability to continue’

(Jewish Telegraphic Agency 04.02.2004)



Shmuel Bar

Israeli Security veteran

‘I wouldn’t put my money on peace. What we will see is a lot of small areas of control and influence. Warlords with their own armed forces…It will be fiefdoms, Afghanisation’

(Sydney Morning Herald 13.12.2003)



Yossi Beilin

Former Israeli Minister of Justice – Cofounder of the Geneva Initiative

‘Arafat himself does not know anymore how much control he still possesses’

(Sueddeutsche Zeitung 22.05.2001)



Zalman Shoval

Foreign Policy Advisor to PM Sharon

‘If there’s a civil war in Gaza, who knows whether it could be contained. It could blow over to the other side of the fence (into Israel). It could have implications on the West Bank as well’

(Knight Ridder Newspapers 11.03.2004)



Ra’anan Gissin

Advisor to PM Sharon

‘I think there are groups and people, including Arafat, who want to instigate anarchy in the territories in order to bring about international intervention. When everything is in disarray, he hopes to go to the Europeans and ask them to bail him out’

(Associated Press 11.02.2004)



Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon

Chief of Staff

‘[Palestinian society] is rife with internal power struggles, maybe we can even call it anarchy’

(Associated Press 02.03.2004)


The Outside World



Kenneth Roth

Executive Director of Human Rights Watch

‘The Palestinian Authority wants to be treated as an equal with other governments. President Arafat must ensure that the PA has a functioning judicial system which operates to protect the human rights of all Palestinians’

(Humanist, Jan-Feb 2003)



James Zogby

Arab American Institute

‘If a year from now, Palestinians are freer, economically prospering and seeing that a viable independent state is in their grasp, then groups that espouse violence will lose support that they currently have. These groups prey off of despair and anger’

(Washington Post 04.06.2003)



Javier Solana

EU Foreign Policy Chief

‘The alternative to the Palestinian Authority is Palestinian Anarchy’

(Jewish World Review 04.02.2002)



John Dugard

Special Rapporteur of the Commission of Human Rights

‘Both Palestinians and Israelis have been responsible for inflicting a reign of terror on innocent civilians’

(Commission on Human Rights Report, 08.09.2003)



Hosni Mubarak

Egyptian President

‘What will come after Arafat? … There are six, seven or eight leaders who will arise and compete amongst themselves for the trust of the Palestinian people. This will be done by means of actions against Israel. Then there will be anarchy’

(Al-Safir, 07.12.2001)



Terje Roed-Larsen

UN Special Envoy

‘We have to do everything that can hinder chaos and anarchy in Gaza after (Israeli) withdrawal. It might be that the situation may necessitate an international presence’

(Palestine Chronicle, 19.03.2004)







The ‘Intra’fada: ‘The chaos of the weapons’                                    p. 7


Historical Overview                                                                          p. 8


Weapons among Palestinians                                                                    p. 10


Case Examples of Internal Palestinian Violence                                       p. 11


I. Societal Characteristics particular to Palestine                                      p. 12


II. Chaotic Bureaucracy and Misguided Laws                                 p. 15


III. The stigma of collaboration: a common pretext for aggression?         p. 18


IV. ‘Honor’ and domestic abuse: violence against women               p. 21


V. Gunfire: ‘The chaos of the weapons’                                            p. 23


VI. Silencing the press and free speech                                             p. 26


VII. A Crystal Ball Glimpse at the Future                                                 p. 29


Appendix 1: Internal Violence from January to October 2003                  p. 31


Appendix 2: Gunfire Incidents in the OPT (2000-2003)                           p. 32


Bibliography                                                                                     p. 33






The ‘Intra’fada


فوضى السلاح

‘The chaos of the weapons’



Since September 2000, the Middle East has been embroiled in another one of its deadly conflict spirals. This new uprising has become known as the ‘al Aqsa Intifada’, triggered in part by the visit of then head of opposition and now Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount. Its roots however can be traced back to the pre-Oslo era. Although the term ‘intifada’ became notorious already in 1989, the present ‘uprising-sequel’ displays certain characteristics, which were not as prominent before the Oslo agreements.


Among the new phenomena is the qualitative and quantitative change in armed resistance. Whereas the first intifada saw scores of Palestinians taking to the streets, armed with stones and kitchen appliances, the present uprising is increasingly characterized by the deadly firepower of small arms. In December 2002, then Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) warned of the increased use of weapons - an evolution he wished to reverse. His short-lived government was ill-equipped to tackle the problem, and his successor, Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala’a), does not seem better placed to confront the weapons chaos. Before Oslo, Palestinians primarily desired unity and an end to the occupation. But already as the first intifada began to fade, divisions among Palestinians appeared and deepened. These rifts have remained and widened throughout the Oslo years. The failure to reach a substantive and acceptable peace agreement has given rise to strong feelings of betrayal and futility. It is to a great extent because of these internal divisions that Palestinians also turn their aggression and vent their feelings of futility against fellow Palestinians – a phenomenon this research seeks to explore. As will be explained, the main underlying cause of internal violence is the fragmented nature of Palestinian society and politics. Present-day ‘lawlessness has exposed the internal divisions of Palestinian society and government. Pitted against one another are rival security agencies, militant splinter groups and some members of powerful families in the cities’[4].


Due to the forces of history, Palestinians have turned into a very diverse cultural mélange, characterized by several religious convictions and political affiliations and ideologies. To give a brief historical overview helps contextualize the Palestinian experience and to place the internal violence of the al Aqsa intifada into context. Of course this diversity has to be analyzed in keeping the conflict with Israel in mind.






Historical overview


Reduced to colonial subjects by Ottoman rule and subsequently colonized by the British, the Palestinian people were denied self-government until the end of World War Two. Although national feelings and bonds existed, there was no opportunity to express them through political institutions. When most former colonies gained independence, the Palestinian people experienced their ‘al-nakba’ (catastrophe). The creation of the state of Israel in 1948 left Palestinians scattered throughout the Arab world. Geographical dispersal and refugee status impacted deeply on the Palestinian psyche, and gave rise to differing views and opinions. It was the ‘exile’ Palestinians (not those living in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank), who started forming political associations and parties, under the common umbrella of liberation and return. However, already at this infancy stage of political party formation, Palestinian viewpoints proved to be highly diverse and at times even incompatible with each other. With the rise of Nasser and pan-Arabism in Egypt, some Palestinian groups called for self-determination within the wider Arab framework, whereas others wanted a purely Palestinian independence and national sovereignty. The socialist imprint on Palestinian nationalism in the post-1948 era impaired the development of a uniquely Palestinian vision of statehood. It was the demise of Nasser and the United Arab Republic (UAR), alongside the impotence of Arab states to help Palestinians reclaim their land, which led individual Palestinian groups to take matters into their own hands. Fedayeen movements mushroomed, and each infant party of the ideological spectrum created its own fighting forces. While these groups were loyal to the overarching Palestinian goals of liberation and return, each possessed different ways, means and indeed also aims on how to bring these about. The death of Nasser and the dissolution of the UAR ushered in an era of national and sovereign consolidation for Arab states. As a result, stateless Palestinians came to identify not only with their fellow refugees, but also with the state and nation they resided in and lived among. Each new Arab state had its own agenda and plan on how to handle the ‘Palestinian problem’. The political system of their host societies influenced and shaped Palestinian thinking and organization, giving rise to any diverging ideas and trends.  


Just as Palestinian political organizations, in their diverse flora and fauna, were born, violence hit the region once more. After the 1967 war, the West Bank and Gaza (until then under Jordanian and Egyptian control respectively) became part of the new ‘Greater Israel’. Another reorientation was forced on the Palestinians. Since then, the different groups have largely remained the same, although the region has been anything but quiet and despite incremental and sporadic steps towards Palestinian statehood and sovereignty. Refugee Palestinians reside in neighboring Arab countries, often refusing to assimilate for hope of eventual return. Part of the nation has fled the Middle East, and resettled in Europe or America. These diasporas reflect views of both home and host societies, and are usually unable to express a common policy aside from the aims of liberation and return. In the lands of Palestine itself, Palestinians fell into two categories: those residing in the state of Israel – for political purposes now called ‘Israeli-Arabs’ – and those living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, who found themselves under a new form of domination, dubbed the ‘occupation’. Each of these geographical groups differs in aspirations, life experience and political opinion. And within each, political divisions range from one extreme of the ideological and political spectrum to the next.


During the first intifada, Palestinians tried to bring some coordination and unity into their different experiences and voices. For the first time, people of diverse backgrounds and convictions came together with the aim to end the occupation and establish an independent political entity. This implicit alliance was understood by all political factions to serve as a stepping stone to statehood, with the real bargaining on what form the future state should take, and which social, political or legal systems should be adopted, left for the future. Out of the intifada was born the Oslo process. And as the peace-talks progressed, the divisions reappeared. Already in the final stages of the intifada, chasms in the superficial and imposed Palestinian unity began to increase. As it turned out, the Oslo peace process was still-born, and the failure to solve the conflict merely compounded many problems. It was during the Oslo years that large amounts of weapons found their way into Palestinian cities, although part of the peace talks involved a Palestinian agreement to limit and control arms. The exact reverse was true, as the highly publicized scandal over the ‘Karin A’ illustrated only too well. With peace out of sight, no central control of violence, and worsening economic and living conditions, the goals of unity and an end to occupation seemed to evaporate. Partly as a result of subsequent Israeli actions to curtail Palestinian movement, the post-Oslo era only enhanced the divisions between different Palestinian factions.


It is with this historical blueprint of division, imposed or superficial unity and an upsurge in the availability of deadly force in mind, that the al-Aqsa Intifada has to be approached. Divisions abound throughout Palestinian history, the second uprising exhibits a more militant character, and involves much greater levels of violence. Israel’s almost complete re-occupation of Palestinian cities and villages only exacerbates the situation, providing extremists with a welcome excuse for their aggression and continued arms smuggling and import.


The real extent of Palestinian infighting is often overlooked, as most people tend to view the conflict in simpler terms: Israel versus the Palestinians. This black and white image of the Middle East conflict does not take into account the grey shades within each society. For a correct perspective on the Palestinians, it does not suffice to be aware of opinions of the Islamic opposition and of the pseudo-official voice of the Palestinian Authority (PA). It is only by examining everyday disagreements and clashes between the various political factions, families and cities that a complete picture of Palestinian society is painted. These divisions have during the course of the al Aqsa Intifada also led to an increasingly violent ‘Intrafada’. In the 10 year period from 1993 to 2003, 16% of Palestinian civilian deaths were caused by Palestinian groups or individuals[5]. It is the purpose of this research to shed light on this under-reported internal violence by providing case examples and analysis.



Weapons among Palestinians


Much like other groups and nations, Palestinians assemble and amass weapons out of a feeling of insecurity. By amassing weapons, Palestinians hope to alleviate and counterbalance the insecurity they feel as a result of the occupation and Israel’s military practices. ‘Unfortunately, this frenzied armament is accompanied by the absence of the rule of law, as well as the inability of the central authority to control and regulate the use and carrying of weapons’[6]. With Israelis and Palestinians locked in conflict, for Palestinians, weapons possession has become socially legitimized, since it is implicitly linked to resistance and self-defense. Weapons are kept for many reasons, including the defense of land and honor, the preservation of family status, the defense against settlers, and the settling of conflicts arising from business interests or the like. Since few defined laws, public security or accountability exist, Palestinians own weapons because they feel they have to take matters into their own hands. It is paradox that small arms have flooded the country in part to increase the nation’s feeling of security, when the effect of a Palestine armed to its teeth will ultimately generate greater insecurity and simultaneously erode human development.


The issue of weapons collection was recently raised again in Palestinian discussions on a ceasefire (hudna). The sensitive nature of such an initiative was clearly expressed by public figures: ‘The road map refers to the need to dismantle the infrastructure of the military factions and to collect their weapons. But [officials in] the office of the [PA] Prime Minister said they told the Americans and the Israelis that we cannot and do not want to fulfill this condition’[7]. The emphasis in this statement should be on the word ‘cannot’ – the PA is simply unable to carry out any weapons collection. With its declining authority, control and legitimacy, such an attempt would amount to digging its own grave. It is for this reason, and for fear of a Palestinian civil war, that the authorities ‘do not want’ to initiate a weapons collection. Even if Arafat ordered the cessation of violence and the handing-in of weapons by armed groups, it is unclear if his call would be followed. It is more likely that the local command of the Intifada in cities like Nablus or in the Gaza Strip would oppose any such order. The ambiguity of Arafat and the PA regarding weapons and their collection should be seen as a tactic of self-preservation. If the order were resisted, the fragile links holding the PA together could break, and Arafat’s legitimacy to govern and represent the Palestinian people would be severely undermined.









Case Examples of Internal Palestinian Violence



The underlying cause of intra-Palestinian violence is intimately, if not solely, linked to the endemic conflict with Israel and the lack of unity of the Palestinian people. Naturally, Palestinian unity is impaired by Israeli practices. It is unclear which of the two needs to be addressed first in order to improve the situation. Without Israeli occupation, Palestinians may find it easier to organize coherently and to unite. On the other hand, if Palestinians were united, they could counter the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza more effectively. At present however, this question is impossible to answer. One of the two – Palestinian splintering and Israeli occupation – has to be taken out of the equation to be able to observe the impact this would have on internal Palestinian violence.




I’m a Palestinian, says every resistance group

(Source: Omayya, Al Hayat Al Jadida, 06.01.2004)













I. Societal Characteristics particular to Palestine



There are several social characteristics and trends particular to the Palestinian people. As such, Palestinians have lived with low level conflict for more than half a century. This has resulted in a lowering of the threshold of violence. Acts, which in other societies are seen as brutal, have become ‘normal’ behavior (as the case examples below will illustrate). This evolution is not unique to the Palestinians: ‘Subject, oppressed, or embattled peoples throughout history have commonly turned on themselves. The occupation and war conditions under which Palestinians currently live readily foster internal hostility and the loss of civil liberties’[8]. Since Palestinians are used to seeing weapons, and are also exposed to verbal and physical abuse at the hands of the military occupation, verbal disagreements can easily turn into fistfights, and sometimes even escalate into gang or family feuds. Growing up in a spiral of violence means individuals will find it harder to determine the limits of aggression. ‘[The] psychological strain under which Palestinians live leads to the spread of crime, since a simple problem can easily turn into a killing’[9].


The lack of economic viability also affects internal infighting among Palestinians. In one recent inter-Palestinian clash, the allocation of foreign funds was the source of contention. On 19th February 2004, the Jenin branch of the al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigades opened fire on two PA members visiting a hospital in Jenin. According to Ha’aretz, the shooting was part of a power struggle between Fatah factions over the control of international aid for development projects[10]. This incident also raises questions of how international funds are used, or abused. The deteriorating economic situation in the Palestinian Areas has led to an increase in crime, and - as a result – a decrease in personal security. According to Palestinian security official Sabri Tmazi, there has been a 60% rise in crime since the start of the al-Aqsa Intifada: ‘That is in burglaries and other property crimes. Violent crime and murders have stayed almost at the same level, so it’s clearly an economic issue’[11].


The governing structure of Palestinians also causes internal infighting. In the minds of many, the Palestinian Authority is inextricably linked to past failures and blunders, including the failed Oslo and Camp David accords. As Palestinian cities are increasingly cut off from each other – a result of Israeli closure, controls of movement, and the building of the wall / fence - the power of the PA to control, oversee and adjudicate society has diminished. The situation in many Palestinian cities has become quasi-anarchic, as alternative power centers fill the vacuum. Their nature varies according to each city – sometimes it is the strongest political faction (e.g. Hamas in Gaza), or those with the greatest means of physical violence to enforce fiefdom laws (e.g. warlords / gangs in Nablus). There has never been a monopoly of force – a shortcoming linked to the quasi- or semi-statal (and consequently also legal) nature of the PA. This problem is compounded since the means of physical violence rest in the hands of non-democratic institutions and groups.


Although there have always been opponents of Arafat, the rift between his supporters and adversaries deepened with the US’ insistence in 2003 that he no longer hold the key position in the Palestinian government. Palestinians thus bowed to American pressure and thus restructured their institutions to establish a new post of Prime Minister. The administrations of both Abbas and Qurei reflect divisions within the governing elite. Although the Palestinian people rallied behind Arafat after the US insisted on his deposal, the subsequent instability of the governing nucleus reflects the uncertainty of the larger populace regarding the responsibilities and powers accorded to the positions of Chairman and Prime Minister. As Arafat’s power continues to decline, the internal regime struggle is likely to intensify. Governmental changes have resulted in a schizophren administration, part of which holds that Palestinians need a national liberation movement under strong and authoritative leadership – a view espoused by Arafat and his supporters. Others advocate a move towards a mini-state requiring regular, democratic and transparent administration, a trend originating from the new Prime Minister’s post. Since the governing elite is unable to clearly define its aims and priorities, this uncertainty is passed down to the populace, and divides opinions.


Palestinians are at times encouraged and even advised by outside forces to engage in internal violence and infighting The American government, for example, has repeatedly praised Arafat when he has cracked down on his own people. As a result, Palestinians opposed to or critical of America and its policies are likely to turn away from the PA and join those groups who contest US actions. The PA’s weakness is in great part characterized by this clash of international and local demands – which it tries to meet simultaneously. Many Palestinians believe that the arrest of members of Palestinian armed factions, who are wanted by Israel, is deplorable, since the main priority should be to put up a unitary front against the occupation. It is paradox that the demand for unity should cause splintering, and that the Palestinian government could be perceived as ‘collaborating’ with America and Israel.


A further problem relates to the distinction between ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’. As mentioned above, Palestinians are divided into external refugees, those in the West bank and Gaza, and those who have been incorporated into Israel. With each additional kilometer of the Israeli ‘security fence’, the distinction between in- and outsiders becomes more complex. Since travel between Palestinian cities is restricted, controlled or even denied, each encircled enclave is left to fend for itself. Central authority and control is thus impaired and at times made impossible. As a result, Palestinian cities (such as Nablus), fall into the hands of local mobsters and gang-lords.  


Nablus is the prime example of internal violence, chaos and anarchy. Mayor Ghassan Shaka’a recently resigned because of fear for his own safety. His brother was killed by one of the rival gangs operating in the city. In his resignation letter, Shaka’a told Arafat that ‘Nablus is going through a state of chaos and accelerated deterioration, resulting in confusion and the interruption of the daily lives of citizens… but now that chaos has become the normal attitude; the lack of security and order, the daily practice; and the law of jungle, a point of view’[12]. The governor of the city, Mahmoud Aloul, blames crime on PA weakness, which allows other groups to hijack the struggle for national liberation and to pursue their own goals[13]. Nablus is torn between different militant gangs, who each try to gain control over affairs. Most of the perpetrators and victims are young extremists, who battle for vengeance, influence and control over smuggling and extortion. Their gang fights often harm innocent bystanders, like Shu’eib Shakhshir, who was killed because he was caught between a battle of Fatah loyalists and gunmen of a local warlord. According to his brother, ‘there is no security now, there are just gangs’[14].


Internal violence can also be traced to Palestinian religious heterogeneity. There have always been predominantly Christian cities or villages, but the violence of the second intifada has resulted in increased Christian migration, as cities are taken over by Islamic groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad. This religious recomposition of cities like Bethlehem has at times resulted in violence against Christian women, who do not cover themselves in Islamic fashion. The belief of Islamic extremists that Westerners sympathize more with Christian suffering has furthermore led some militants to initiate shooting from Christian areas like Beit Jala, in order to force an Israeli reprisal. In this way, they manage to frighten Palestinian Christians into leaving or changing their lifestyle. These tactics deepen the rift between Palestinians of different religions and with increased Christian flight, amount to a shrewd population transfer initiated by Palestinians against Palestinians.


The internal divisions among Palestinians and their government were exposed again by the suicide bombings of 29th January 2004 and 22nd February 2004 (the day before the Court in The Hague began its hearings on the wall / fence). In both attacks, the perpetrators came from Bethlehem. Their timing was most inopportune for advancing Palestinian aims and raising international support for legal proceedings. The bombings can only be understood if Palestinian internal infighting and disagreement are taken into account. Bethlehem belongs to Area A, under PA administration. However, due to frequent Israeli incursions, this translates into control on paper but not in practice. Additionally, Hamas and Islamic Jihad have increasingly become active in Bethlehem, recruiting suicide bombers to attack not only Israel, but also to demonstrate and exacerbate PA weakness.










II. Chaotic Bureaucracy and Misguided Laws



As mentioned above, the PA does not resemble a sovereign state. While Palestinians supposedly exercise autonomous rule, they lack most statal institutions. This results in bureaucratic confusion a leading cause of internal infighting. The roles and responsibilities of executive and judiciary are not defined, and their jurisdictions often overlap.


The Palestinian judiciary is wrought with problems. Not only is it deprived of power, there are also no rules or guidelines for defining and dealing with violations of the law. Among others, clear legal guidelines on how to deal with processions, demonstrations and public meetings are lacking. This has in practice meant that the PA can respond to any criticism of its policies with violence. As such, in October 2001, the Palestinian police opened fire on demonstrators in Gaza, killing three. Legal loopholes open the window for violence – an increasingly wide window, as no serious attempts are made to clarify established rules and procedures. The whole legal framework, of which the state courts are a major part, is wrought with ambiguities. Although in August 2003, then PA Minister of Justice, Abdul Karim Abu Salah, came out in support of abolishing the state security courts and to transfer authority to an Attorney General, this step towards more accountability was never implemented. The practices of state security courts, such as summary trials and inadequate defense, remain. Corruption and personal power also reflect in the legal structure, since many judges were or still are members of the Palestinian security forces, who – as mentioned above – are divided themselves. This confusion of executive and judiciary means that legal power can be abused for personal or factional interests – spawning further internal violence. The desperate legal situation is not only caused by bureaucratic confusion. The Israeli occupation and its ‘side-effects’ affect the courts’ performance as well. As such, because of curfews or closures, defendants and witnesses are often unable to appear in court and trial dates are subject to frequent postponement. This external pressure is compounded by internal shortcomings, including the lack of judges to hear cases. The number of cases is simply too much for the few judges to deal with efficiently. Because of the delays associated with such an overworked system, many people choose to take justice into their own hands instead.


The confusion is especially dangerous with regard to the multitude of Palestinian policing forces, whose roles remain ambiguous, but who exist independently of each other. There are several subgroups of the police, including the Public Security Force, the Civil Police, the Preventive Security Force, the Mukhabarat (‘Intelligence’), the Presidential Security Force, the Coastal Police as well as Military Intelligence. Even insiders do not know who is in charge and which branch is responsible for which tasks. The overlap of jurisdictions can result in both verbal and physical infighting among those forces designed to protect the larger populace from violence. Arafat only exacerbates the problem by playing each security chief off against the other in order to secure his own position. If the structure and means of protection are not clearly defined and wrought with bureaucratic cronyism, this will affect the populace. Palestinians may and often do rely on personal means of protection to guarantee their security, which the police is unable to deliver. Additionally, the Palestinian police in the West Bank is not allowed to carry weapons when patrolling the streets. Therefore, many people look to militia leaders for protection or to settle scores. Since each political faction also has its own armed forces and a structure resembling an independent administration, the legality of the official PA armed forces is further undermined and contested. Sometimes, local gangs and militias are also backed by PA security officials. According to an unnamed regional Fatah official, 90% of gang lawlessness can be traced to people on the PA payroll[15].



PA security forces do not live up to international laws and regulations concerning the treatment of individuals under arrest. There have been several cases in which Palestinian civilians were arrested without proper reason, and suffered beatings and other forms of torture at the hands of the police. In July 2003 for example, a worker from Bethlehem was forcibly taken from his house and interrogated by members of the al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade (also working with the PA), who accused him of collaborating with Israel. Under threat of violence (including firing at his feet), the man confessed to having committed certain thefts, but insisted that he was not responsible for Israeli assassinations of Palestinians in Bethlehem. When he finished his ‘confession’, the militants broke his hand and leg, smashed his teeth and hit him with an iron bar on his back. He was then dumped into a garbage container where he was found the next day[16].



In another case, highlighting police corruption and opportunism, a vendor of used cars was arrested because he owned a stolen car. The police told him the vehicle would be destroyed, but he found the same car driving the streets the following day with a governmental license plate. The car vendor followed the driver, and forcibly repossessed the vehicle, for which he had paid. Later that day, the police came to his garage to arrest him for car theft and assaulting a military man. He was beaten for two hours and kept in solitary confinement for four days. He was only released after ten days[17].



A case which received attention from Amnesty International as well was the detention and torture of Mohammed Lahloh (25 years old) from September to November 2001 by the Criminal Investigation Department in Jenin. The victim had cigarette burns on his hands and bruising in his face. He was unable to walk as nails had been driven into his knees. The reason for his arrest and torture appeared to be his work in Israel, which served as grounds for charging him with collaboration and drug trafficking. He was also accused of being linked to the killing of Islamic Jihad member Iyad Hardan, assassinated by Israeli forces in April[18].






In another instance, a 29-year-old student of Jerusalem Open University was arrested in August 2003 by members of the Palestinian Criminal Security forces. He was accused of slandering the West Bank security services and tainting the reputation of a PA general. On these grounds, he was detained for 16 days, during which he suffered repeated beatings.   Eventually, he was released for lack of evidence[19].


These examples are but the tip of the iceberg. Violence permeates the security forces, and it is worsened by legal confusions. Unless and until more accountability and order is introduced into these structures, the problem will remain and could possibly worsen as PA control continues to deteriorate.


































III. The stigma of collaboration: a common pretext for aggression?



In a society scarred by violence, suspicion and distrust are ripe. Among Palestinians, the most serious charge which can be advanced is that of collaborating with Israel. Even a rumor of working for the enemy can stigmatize an individual and his family for life. It is worth mentioning that the charge and stigma linked to ‘collaboration’ are not unique to Palestinians – in Nazi-occupied Europe, suspected collaborators were also penalized harshly. Despite the seriousness of the charge, there is however no agreed-upon definition of what constitutes a collaborator. In some cases, ‘immoral behavior’, such as the use or dealing of drugs, criticism of the PA, or land sales to Israel, can suffice to brand an individual as an Israeli agent. In several instances, people have been accused of collaboration as a result of personal feuds, in order to restore their honor or to exert revenge in the form of a personal vendetta. Alleging collaboration through gossip and rumors can have deadly consequences. Since the legal system is lacks accountability and due process, an individual merely suspected of collaboration can suffer severely in detention. Prisoners accused of collaboration are treated as ‘security detainees’. Most of them are held incommunicado, and are refused access to lawyers and their families. In some cases, the prisoners are held for months or years after their interrogations have ended. The death rates for suspected collaborators in prison are abnormally high. The problem of blaming suspected collaborators is intimately tied to legal practice, which implicitly stipulates that accused collaborators are guilty until proven innocent. In many cases, those suspected or accused of collaboration are executed by private individuals or political factions. There have been very few attempts by the PA to investigate these killings, which are legitimized by the collaboration charge.


Execution and torture of suspected collaborators occurs both officially, and through vigilante groups. In August 2001, the PA military intelligence arrested Sulayman ‘Awad Muhammad Abu ‘Amas in Gaza. Visits by his family were denied, and they were informed a week after his arrest that he had died in detention. The family performed an autopsy and it was found that the cause of death had been several blows to sensitive body parts, which occurred one week before death. Although Arafat ordered an official inquiry into his death, no results were publicized and the perpetrators remain unknown[20].


While this is a case where members of the PA were implicated, suspected collaborators also suffer violence and death at the hands of semi-official groupings. This has indeed become the norm, as the PA undertook in several agreements, including in 1994 in Cairo, and in 1995 in Taba, not to prosecute or harm suspected or proven collaborators. As this reassurance ties the hands of the officials, private groups and individuals have taken justice into their own hands. This practice, according to Dr. Said Zeedani, is at the root of the problem since ‘the pressure of public opinion should not be the determining factor; public and fair trials by courts and not vigilante groups are what is required and necessary. Mob justice is as objectionable as vigilante activity’[21].


One of the most active groups in persecuting suspected and charged collaborators is the al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigades. In February 2004, some of its members killed Nidal Kasem Dbeik (22 years old) in Nablus. Nidal had worked with the Israeli intelligence, and was accused of being responsible for assassinations and arrests of Palestinians, and pointing out the whereabouts of fighters. On 21st January, al Aqsa members forced Nidal to admit his collaboration in front of his family, who immediately disowned him. 3 days later his corpse was found[22]. In another case – also perpetrated by the al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigades in Nablus – Ahmad Ahwal (38 years old) was shot in his restaurant. In a statement released after the killing, the Brigades accused Ahwal of collaboration and claimed responsibility for the murder[23]. The Brigades have not only taken it upon themselves to ‘bring justice’ to collaborators in Nablus. In February 2004, Khaled Abu Adas (39 years old) from Bethlehem was shot several times and killed. He had previously been kidnapped by the militants, who videotaped a confession in which he admitted to collaboration with Israel. He was disowned post-mortem by his family, who claimed he deserved his fate[24]. Charges of collaboration even extend to PA officials. In July 2003, members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades kidnapped the governor of Jenin and accused him of collaboration. Eventually, they released him – but only after he had been severely beaten.


There are other horrific cases of vigilante justice. In April 2002 for example, unknown masked men broke into one of the makeshift prisons in Tulkarm and executed 8 detainees accused, but not convicted, of collaboration. The prison’s guards had fled their posts beforehand, apparently scared off by the assailants. The dead bodies were later dragged through the streets by the perpetrators and then dumped. According to some reports, the men were killed because the militants feared an Israeli invasion into Tulkarm, which might have released the suspects[25].


One of the most famous collaborators is Akram al-Zatma, a 22-year-old student from Gaza, accused of having provided Israel with information pertaining to the whereabouts of Hamas leader Salah Shehade, who was killed by a bomb dropped on his building. In exchange for money and sex, Zatma provided an undercover Israeli agent information on the whereabouts of Shehade after being threatened that videos recording his sexual encounters would be passed on and published. Al-Zatma is among the ‘luckier’ collaborators, since he will have a trial and an authorized execution. In another case, a mother of seven was accused of collaboration and killed after confessing to her crime on video. 18-year-old Rajah Ibrahim was officially executed in 2002 as the second woman collaborator[26].


Sometimes collaboration is also addressed within the family. In January 2004, a Palestinian man killed both his father and brother in Baka al-Sharkia. The suspected collaborator, brother of the perpetrator, possessed an Israeli ID and had come to visit his father, when his brethren assassinated him[27]. Collaboration is thus one of the most dangerous acts to engage in, and at the same time, one of the longest lasting stigmas affecting the whole family and friends of the suspect. The inter-family killing cannot be understood without the social context in which it occurs, and the societal pressures which determine the treatment of collaborators.




































IV. ‘Honor’ and domestic abuse: Violence against women



As the ‘weaker sex’, women often bear the brunt of their husbands’ rage at the futility of the economic and political situation. Until today, violence against women remains confined to informal testimonies - if reported at all. Because of their economic dependency, many women silently suffer abuse. Since many are not aware of their legal rights, they also do not report domestic violence to the police. Continued aggression against women (in the form of honor crimes), shows the social discrimination against women, children and the disabled. ‘Without exception, women’s greatest risk of violence comes not from “stranger danger” but from the men they know, often male family members or husbands’[28]. No comprehensive inquiry has been launched into this violence of the private sphere, as it remains a societal taboo. Many traditional-minded Palestinians believe that public regulations and laws should not dictate their marriages. Research conducted and shared by the Psycho-Social Counselling Centre for Women in Bethlehem, several cases of domestic violence have been documented. Aggression against women is very diverse, and does not necessarily involve physical violence, although psychological pressure usually goes hand in hand with bodily harm. Wives are often beaten by their husbands, and only leave them after the aggression is also directed at their children. Divorce or separation stigmatizes a woman in traditional Palestinian society. Many women endure the beatings and the trauma of domestic abuse because they lack the financial means to take care of themselves. Women, who choose to leave their husbands, are also often denied further visits with their children - another reason why many continue to silently suffer abuse. In some cases, psychologists treating the battered women have been able to draw clear links between an increase in domestic violence and the onset of the al Aqsa Intifada. Societal and public violence clearly affects aggression in the private sphere.


In a case relating to honor, unknown gunmen shot 69-year-old Layla Tbeila in her house in Rafidia (West Nablus) in January 2004. According to eyewitnesses, the perpetrators belonged to the Mabruka family, who felt dishonored by Layla’s son. He had refused to marry his 18-year-old daughter to one of their family members. The gunmen intended to kidnap her, but when they found she was not in the house, they shot her grandmother in a fit of rage[29].


Rape is another act of aggression against women which – due to the shame associated with the loss of virginity – remains underreported in the Palestinian areas. Groups like Amnesty International have made a case that forced marriage also involves a component of rape, since sex occurs without consent. The incidence of rape in wedlock is almost never reported, as traditional beliefs hold that married women are not allowed to refuse sex to their husbands. A 26-year-old woman from a village close to Bethlehem not only suffered regular beatings by her husband, but was also sexually abused by her brother-in-law. When she reported these incidents to her husband, his aggression against her increased. As a result, she saw herself forced to leave him and has not been allowed to see her three children since[30]. ‘The mere perception that a woman has contravened the code of sexual behavior damages honor. The regime of honor is unforgiving: women on whom suspicion has fallen are not given an opportunity to defend themselves, and family members have no socially acceptable alternative but to remove the stain on their honor by attacking the woman’[31].


In September 2003, a particularly gruesome case of rape took place in West Gaza, and it continues to stir tempers until today. 16-year-old Mayyada Khalil Abu Lamda was on her way home from school, when she was abducted by four men in a car. They drove her to a deserted house, and took turns raping her anally. After she claimed that she would tell her family, they strangled her to death and dumped her body in a garbage container[32]. According to local sources, it is likely that Mayyada was kidnapped and abused because her family had refused to marry her to one of the perpetrators, who had repeatedly asked for her hand in marriage[33]. The four perpetrators (all taxi drivers aged between 22 and 24) confessed to the crime and are awaiting trial. Two of them have been publicly disowned by their families, who fear revenge attacks. The rape has aroused public anger, and crowds of Palestinians have demonstrated to demand the death of the assailants[34].
























V. Gunfire: ‘the chaos of the weapons’


As mentioned in the title of this research, Palestinians have begun to refer to the present situation as فوضى السلاح, or ‘the chaos of the weapons’. Although the number of small arms in the Palestinian Areas is not known, it is clear that these weapons have added a much more militant and violent flavor to the al Aqsa Intifada. They are not only ‘tools of resistance’ against the Israeli occupation, but also harm fellow Palestinians.


Sometimes, gun-violence is directed at Palestinian officials. As such, on 12th October 2003, Saed Sheheibar, Assistant to the Palestinian Attorney General, was shot and wounded by three masked assailants as he was leaving his home in Gaza[35]. No group has claimed responsibility for this attack. Other PA members have also become victims of gunfire, including Usama Kamil, Lieutenant of the Protective Security Forces, who was killed by suspected criminals in February 2004 near Kabatya[36]. The exact circumstances of death remain sketchy until today.


Feuds between the various PA security agencies can also at times turn violent. On 5th February 2004, a gunfight erupted in the Gaza Central Police Headquarters, which resulted in one death and over 10 wounded. The battle broke out when members of one of the security apparatuses clashed with the head of the police, Ghazi Jabaly. What started as a heated argument, turned into a violent beating of the police chief. As his assailants were leaving the compound, police members opened fire on them[37]. Rumors claim that the attack was perpetrated by loyalists of Dahlan, who was in charge of security in Gaza until he resigned over differences with Arafat.


Sometimes violence erupts between police members and loyalists of political factions. When in July 2003, Majdi Fathi Abu Muawad was found bleeding profusely by Palestinian police members in the Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza, they arrested a suspicious individual close-by the crime scene. This man was affiliated with Hamas, and when his friends found out about his arrest, they descended on the police station, demanding his release. A verbal disagreement quickly turned into a gun fight, resulting in several injured[38]. Even innocents without weapons have been caught in the line of fire. Hamzeh Taleb Kawarik (17 years old), was killed during a gunfight between members of the Al Aqsa Brigades and the Abu Shalbak family in Nablus last November[39]. He was merely trying to cross the street with his mother.


Family feuds and revenge also turn increasingly deadly with the use of weapons and guns. ‘This type of violence results from a complex mixture of values and ideas inspired by religion, popular beliefs and traditional hereditary social customs’[40]. Often, it takes the intervention of village-elders to end such bloody feuds, as the police or PA are not perceived as actors for conflict resolution. In January 2004, for example, an argument developed between two taxi drivers (Iyad Sleim and Maher Aslan) in Ramallah. The disagreement turned violent, with Iyad hitting Maher with a car iron. Maher’s relatives then gathered and burned the cars of Iyad’s family. In response, Iyad fired shots into the crowd, fatally wounding Maher’s nephew. In the final act of revenge, Maher gathered his family and friends from Fatah. They then forced Iyad’s family out of their house and burned it to the ground[41]. In Nablus, a family feud also turned violent in August 2003. What began as a minor car crash, led to the death of Imad Shtayeh (33 years old) at the hands of a member of the Jabur-family. After his death, the Shtayeh-family went on a rampage of destruction and arson, obliterating all possessions of the Jabur-clan they could lay their hands on[42].


A particularly chilling murder motivated by personal revenge occurred on 28th December 2003. A man dressed as a police officer entered Gaza Central Prison and shot ‘Awni Mohammed Abu Es’ayed, who had been sentenced to death for killing Saleh Mohammed Safi. The assailant (found to be the brother of Safi) gave himself up to the prison authorities[43]. The murder not only exposes the ‘insecure’ environment of Palestinian prisons and the disregard for legal decisions, it also shows that traditional blood revenge is still practiced. Abu Es’ayed would have faced a firing squad, but it was important to his killer to personally shoot him.


There are other cases in which legal decisions have been overruled by the barrel of a gun. On 5th February 2002, 3 men were killed by a Palestinian mob after a court in Jenin sentenced them for having killed PA security official Osama Qmeil[44]. Mr Qmeil had been responsible for the execution of members of the perpetrators’ families during the first intifada because they had been collaborators for Israel. This is a particularly violent cycle of revenge. Mr. Qmeil’s assassinations of collaborators during the first uprising drew revenge from their families during the al Aqsa intifada. He in turn was then revenged by a mob directly reversing the court’s verdict of imprisonment. After they had killed the three accused, the mob dragged their bodies onto the streets and fired celebratory gunshots into the air. As this case illustrates, internal killings often involve more than one twist: collaboration merges with revenge and counter-revenge, and honor and mob-rule take the place of legal accountability.


A very brutal and unsolved murder occurred in Hebron in October 2003. 46-year-old Majed Ibrahim Zein, father of five, was driving in his car, when he was stopped by three armed men. They threw him on the ground and shot him in both eyes, in his mouth, and inside his chest. Zein died on the spot. The perpetrators have not been brought to justice, and no motive has been established for his murder[45]. It is not only adults, who suffer at the hands of weapons. In October 2003, a 6 year old child was found killed by several knife stabs in Der al Balah[46]. The perpetrator(s) were never caught; thus it remains unclear why the minor was massacred in such a brutal manner.


The easy availability of small arms has also resulted in several fatal accidents. In January 2004, Akram Shamubi (30 years old) died because his friend, Lieutenant Saker, was playing with his gun when it accidentally went off and a bullet entered Akram’s chest[47]. In March, a similar accident happened to a couple of 13-year-old in Nablus, who played with a loaded gun. As a result, Nader Samiri killed his friend Ameed Akkad[48].
































VI. Silencing the Press and Free Speech



The sign at the door of the Union of Journalists states:

‘Dear Journalist. If you are ever subjected to threats, insults, or beating,

just report that and we’ll issue a statement of condemnation’

(Source: Omayya 01.10.2004)



As mentioned above, for many Palestinians, unity of the people is primary – and any negative portrayal of the Palestinian struggle can be interpreted as collaboration and thus accepted as punishable by force. Therefore, basic freedoms of speech are impaired if not denied. Attacks on and controls of the press have increased in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks in the United States. Immediately following 9/11, the PA prevented the coverage of Palestinian demonstrations featuring pictures of Bin Laden. Journalists attempting to report these public outbursts were threatened and detained. Recent attacks on the press have been more anarchic, perpetrated by unknown assailants, or militants loosely affiliated with a political faction. This has to do with the weakness of the PA, linked to declining political authority among the people and infrastructural damage caused by repeated Israeli incursions.


For attacks against members of the international press corps, responsibility is often not officially claimed. On 13th September 2003, armed individuals affiliated with the al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigades attacked the al Arabiya Channel in Ramallah. Later, however, al Aqsa denied the attack and accused the perpetrators of violating the ‘national consensus’. This attack exposes the fragmented nature of existing splinter groups like al Aqsa. While in this case it appears as though al Aqsa was responsible, in other attacks the perpetrators remain unknown. In Gaza, individuals dressed as customs police in order to confiscate copies of al-Ayyam newspaper. This disguise meant that the criminals could not be brought to justice. It also shows that care is taken to avoid exposure by each offshoot group when it comes to attacks on the media.


2004 was also marked by Palestinian violence against the press. On January 8th, al Arabiya’s Gaza correspondent Seifeddin Shahin was beaten at gunpoint by masked individuals. Although it remains unclear who was responsible for this violent attack, Shahin has repeatedly been harassed by members of Fatah for his coverage of internal divisions in the party. In 2003, he was arrested on an official order of Arafat and detained for 24 hours. Shahin himself believes the root cause of Palestinian internal violence lies in the high echelons of political authority. For fear of losing their prestige and influence, key figures pull the strings to ensure further violence. In this manner they can guarantee and safeguard their power and control.


In another instance, three armed and masked men broke into the al Quds Educational TV offices in Ramallah on February 2nd, threatened the editors and destroyed the equipment. On 13th February, the car of al Hayat al Jadida’s Gaza bureau chief was set on fire by unknown arsonists, most likely because of his critical coverage of the internal Palestinian situation. Also in February, the offices of the weekly al-Dar (Gaza) were ransacked. In response to this increase in violence against press members, 200 journalists protested at the Palestinian Legislative Council in Gaza on 15th February, and demanded more PA protection. In some cases, attacks on the press are motivated by personal economic insecurity. At the beginning of March 2004 for example, masked men broke into the Palestinian broadcasting offices to demand jobs.


According to Reporters Without Borders[49], the increase in attacks on journalists is linked to growing political instability and negligence of the security forces. Both of these trends were discussed in separate chapters above. It should be emphasized that internal violence cannot be separated into clear-cut cases. Each phenomenon (i.e. domestic violence, economic insecurity, collaboration, etc.) affects the other, and although for this research they have been listed separately, in practice, this neat classification does not reflect reality.


The latest gruesome attack against press officials occurred on 2nd March. Khalil al-Zebin (key advisor of Arafat and the publisher of an-Nashra newspaper) was riddled with bullets as he left his paper’s offices on the night of 1st to 2nd March. He died in hospital. Once more, the assailants managed to escape unrecognized. Zebin’s wife and daughter claimed he was a victim of anarchy, and was executed by ‘gangs’ or the ‘mafia’[50]. His death served as a ‘wake-up call’ for the PA, which finally initiated limited reforms of the security services. The salaries for security personnel are now directly transferred into their accounts, as opposed to handing bundles of cash to each security chief.





Death, the 5th power, subduing journalism, the 4th power

The Palestinian journalist, Khalil al-Zebin was assassinated in Gaza yesterday

(Source: Omayya, Al Hayat Al Jadida, 03.03.2004)




























VII. A Crystal-Ball Glimpse at the Future



Israeli plans to separate the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip

(Source: Nasser Al Ja’afari, Al Quds, 2/18)


‘The escalation of the level of violence will increase. In the first Intifada it was stones at best. In this Intifada it is machine guns, homemade mortars and explosives and, especially, suicide bombings. So the next Intifada, which, if there is no peaceful solution, will certainly happen in another four to seven years, will be worse than what we have witnessed in the past two years’[51]. So will its accompanying ‘intra’fada.


Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has recently presented a new plan, calling for ‘Gaza First’. Should Israel remove its settlements and leave the small coastal strip, this could have disastrous effects on a future Palestinian state, especially following the assassination of Hamas’ spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin on 22nd March 2004. Even though the PA is officially in control, many Gazans view the administration as one of outsiders. Because the PA is wrought with internal disagreements, many prefer the united front of groups like Hamas. ‘Hamas is perceived as an organization whose leaders are free of corruption and ready to make sacrifices’[52]. Because of this, PA crackdowns on the militants become impossible, as they are increasingly perceived as a form of collaboration with Israel.


Furthermore, there are grounded fears that if Israel pulls out of Gaza, a future Palestinian state will turn into a quilt of different cantons. Two opposing power centers (the PA and Hamas) cannot co-exist or coordinate affairs, especially if there is no geographical continuity. The ‘Gaza First’ initiative thus raises the prospect of two separate Palestinian states – an Islamic one in Gaza, and a PA-controlled one in the West Bank. Palestinian human rights activists view the situation with a certain irony. Raji Sourani, of the Palestinian Human Rights Centre, rules out civil war, but predicts selective killings. Thus, internal violence will continue[53]. Other Palestinians do fear civil war. Israeli security experts also predict that Palestine will disintegrate into Afghan-style warlordism in the future. However, they believe that Hamas will not be able to exercise coherent power and authority because other militias will oppose their supremacy. In any case, internal fighting will continue and possibly even worsen. ‘The dream of independent Palestine may be replaced by a dysfunctional bantustan or rump homeland, by penned-in, impoverished cantons of misery, by a slum fiefdom run by Islamist bombers bent on unending war’[54].


According to a December 2003 survey, 53% of Palestinians support a crackdown on continued Palestinian violence, if the conflict with Israel comes to an end[55]. Thus only a bare majority supports such an initiative - illustrating the difficulty of reaching agreement. Additionally, an end to internal violence is preconditioned by a solution to the conflict with Israel. But how can agreement between Israelis and Palestinians be reached, when Palestinian opinions vary so extremely? The same survey also shows that 80% of Palestinians worry that a crackdown on Palestinian violence would result in increased internal strife. It seems paradox indeed to enforce non-violence through aggression. This is the Palestinian tragedy – the endless cycle of violence relating not only to the conflict with Israel, but also to internal interactions with each other.


Palestinian journalist Tawfiq Abu Bakr insists on a Palestinian cessation of violence. Only then can peace come about – since Palestinians would regain the trust and support of the Israeli Left. Before Palestinians engaged in weapons violence, Israelis joined them in their demonstrations against the occupation. Only if Palestine is cleansed of lethal firepower, will peace be achieved, and only such a Palestine will be supported by Israelis. His view may be idealist, but in light of the present situation, his words appear to be good advice on how to end the double conflict in which Palestine currently finds itself. In order to achieve the aims of the intifada, the ‘intra’fada has to end. Conversely: the ‘intra’fada will most likely only finish once the underlying causes of the intifada are addressed and Palestinian demands for an end to the occupation are met.












Internal Violence from January to October 2003

Based on statistics collected by the Palestinian Police[56]



Nature and Frequency of Crime


Nature of the Crime

Number of Cases


Premeditated Murder


Accidental Killing


Battering to Death


Attempted Murder


Threats of Murder


Family Feuds




Attempted Suicide




Sexual Harassment


Kidnapping of Minors


Kidnapping of Women


Auto Theft


House Robberies


Other Crimes and Assaults





Location of Murders and Attempted Suicides



Number of Murders

Number of Attempted Suicides































Gaza Strip (north)



Gaza Strip (south)






Other locations





Gunfire Incidents in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (2000-2003)

Based on statistics collected by the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group






A total of 107 Palestinians killed by gunfire








Perpetrator is a civilian


Perpetrator is a member of the Security Forces


Perpetrator is part of a Militant Group / Gang


Perpetrator unknown









Gunfire was on purpose


Gunfire was accidental









Exact Circumstances


Family Dispute


Honor / Revenge


Playing with a gun


Wedding ceremonies (shooting in the air)


Quarrel between the police and civilians


Civilian fights


Masked Men / Women













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  • Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, ‘PCHR condemns attacks on offices of al-Arabiya satellite channel and Al-Ayyam newspaper’, 16.09.2003


  • Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, ‘PCHR condemns attack on the Palestinian Attorney General’s Assistant’, 12.10.2003


  • Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, ‘PCHR calls for an investigation into a murder in Gaza Central prison’, 30.12.2003


  • Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, ‘PCHR condemns attack against Al-Arabiya Gaza correspondent’, 08.01.2004


  • Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, ‘Death Sentences handed down by Gaza Criminal Court’, 27.01.2004


  • Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, ‘PCHR calls upon the PA to investigate the deadly events that occurred in Gaza, 06.02.2004


  • Palestinian Working Women Society For Development, ‘Yes to Life and No to Killing’, 08.10.2003


  • Daniel Pipes, ‘The Coming Palestinian Anarchy’, Weblog, February–March 2004


  • Barbara Plett, ‘Palestinian society lies in ruins’, 12.04.2002


  • Ilene R. Prusher, ‘In the city of Bethlehem, disarray and desperate times’, Christian Science Monitor, 26.02.2004


  • Psycho-Social Counselling Center for Women (Bethlehem), Information on specific cases, (Arabic)


  • Reporters Without Borders, ‘The Palestinian Authority reinforce its pressure on local and international press’, 21.09.2001


  • Reporters Without Borders, ‘Al-Jazeera correspondent in Gaza questioned by Palestinian Intelligence Agents’, 06.01.2003


  • Reporters Without Borders, Reporters Without Borders condemns attack on TV correspondent in Gaza, 09.01.2004


  • Reporters Without Borders, ‘Reporters Without Borders calls on Yasser Arafat to act after killing of journalist’, 02.03.2004


  • Danny Rubinstein, ‘Dahlan’s Rebellion’, Ha’aretz, 19.02.2004


  • Danny Rubinstein, ‘Analysis: Hamas may be only side to profit from Yassin’s death’, Ha’aretz, 22.03.2004


  • Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, ‘Palestinians worry that Israeli withdrawal could lead to anarchy’, Knight Ridder Newspapers, 11.03.2004         les/printstory.jsp


  • Iyad Sarraj, ‘On violence and resistance’, published in Palestine-Israel Journal of Politics, Economics and Culture, Vol. 10, No. 1, 2003, ‘Violence and its alternatives’


  • Thorsten Schmitz, ‘Arafat entgleitet mehr und mehr die Kontrolle’, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Interview with Jossi Beilin, 22.05.2001


  • Gil Sedan, ‘As Palestinians slide into anarchy, calls mount for better leadership’, 04.02.2004


  • Seifeddin Shahin, al Arabiya’s Gaza Correspondent, Telephone Interview


  • Ahmad Sub Laban, ‘Journalists protest lack of protection’, Palestine Report (Vol. 10, Nr. 32), 18.02.2004


  • Lara Sukhtian, ‘Vigilantes take control of West Bank streets’, Associated Press, 11.02.2004      e_control_of_w_bank_streets/


  • Daphne Tsimhoni, ‘Christians Fleeing Palestinian Controlled Areas’, Near East Report, 28.01.2002


  • US State Department Human Rights Report 2003, ‘The occupied territories’


  • Erika Waak, ‘Violence Among the Palestinians’, Humanist, Jan-Feb 2003


  • John Ward Anderson & Molly Moore, ‘Palestinian Authority Broke and in Disarray’, Washington Post, 29.02.2004


  • Washington Post, ‘Bush and the Middle East, online discussion with Dr. James Zogby of the Arab American Institute on the Road Map, 04.06.2003


  • Brian Whitaker, Palestinians Storm Court, Killing 3 After Guilty Verdict’, The Guardian, 06.02.2002,2763,645629,00.html


  • Mark Willacy, ‘Palestinian collaborators used for “targeted killings”’, 02.09.2002, published by ABC Online (Australia)


  • Researchers of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, whose identity has for safety-reasons to remain undisclosed




[1] Jerusalem Media & Communication Center,

[2] Konrad Adenauer Stiftung,

[3] Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research,

[4] ‘The coming Palestinian anarchy’, Daniel Pipes, quoted from the Cox News Service, Joshua Mitnick on 07.03.2004,

[5] ‘Violence among the Palestinians’, Humanist, January-February 2003, Erika Waak,


[6] ‘An attempt to analyze the internal violence in Palestinian society in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank’, Dr. Musleeh Kana’neh, 30.12.2003, published in ‘Al-Bidar’ (annex to Al-Ayyam)(Arabic)

[7] ‘The Domestic Palestinian Dispute Over the Hudna’, B. Chernitsky, 25 July 2003, The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI),

[8] ‘Violence among the Palestinians’, Humanist, January-February 2003, Erika Waak,

[9] ‘Multiple reasons behind the increase of killings’, quote by Abdel Jabar Burkan of the Ramallah Police Investigation Department

[10] Ha’aretz, ‘News in Brief’, 19 February 2004

[11] ‘Crime soars in Palestinian Areas’, Ferry Biedermann, 03.02.2004,

[12] ‘Frustrated Palestinians say Arafat out of control’, Chris Mitchell, CBN News,

[13] ‘Vigilantes take control of West Bank streets’, Lara Sukhtian, 11.02.2004

[14] ‘Palestinian Authority losing its ability to maintain basic order’, Ed O’Loughlin, Sydney Morning Herald, 08.03.2004,

[15] ‘The coming Palestinian anarchy’, Daniel Pipes, 03.02.2004,

[16] ‘Statement by B.A.A.’, PHRMG Field Researcher, 15.03.2004

[17] ‘Statement by S.A.R.’, PHRMG Field Researcher, 15.03.2004

[18] Amnesty International, ‘Torture / ill-treatment / legal concern: Mohammed Lahloh, aged 25’, 03.10.2001,

[19] ‘Statement by Kh.M.A.Kh.’, PHRMG Field Researcher, 15.03.2004

[20] ‘Broken lives – a year of Intifada’, Amnesty International, 2001 The Alden Press

[21] ‘The phenomenon of collaboration in Palestine’, Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs, March 2001, p. 3

[22] ‘Murder of a spy in Nablus’, PHRMG Field Researcher, 01.02.2004

[23] ‘Palestinian killed by gunmen in Nablus on the charge of collaboration with Israel’, PHRMG Field Researcher, 12.02.2004

[24] ‘Death of Khaled A. Abu Adas’, PHRMG Field Researcher, 17.02.2004

[25] ‘Palestinians kill suspected collaborators’, Thomas Crosbie Media, 01.04.2002,    also in:

‘Palestinians execute 11 suspected collaborators’, Margot Dudkevitch, in Jerusalem Post, 02.04.2002

[26] ‘Palestinian collaborators used for “targeted killings”’, Mark Willacy, ABC News Australia, 02.09.2002

[27] ‘Palestinian kills brother, father over collaboration for Israel’, Associated Press, 13.01.2004, published in Ha’aretz

[28] ‘Broken bodies, shattered minds: torture and ill-treatment of women’, Amnesty International, 2001 The Alden Press

[29] ‘Murder of Layla Tbeila’, PHRMG Field Researcher, 29.01.2004

[30] Psycho-Social Counselling Centre for Women, Bethlehem

[31] ‘Broken bodies, shattered minds: torture and ill-treatment of women’, Amnesty International

[32] ‘The circumstances surrounding the murder of Mayyada Abu Lamda’, Al Quds, 13.02.2004

[33] ‘Murder of a Palestinian girl in Gaza’, PHRMG Field Researcher

[34] ‘Palestinians fear Gaza chaos after rare rape-murder’, Nidal al-Mughrabi, 01.03.2004, Reuters,

[35] Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, ‘PCHR condemns attack on the Palestinian Attorney General’s Assistant’, 12.10.2003,

[36] Al Hayat Al Jadida, ‘Death of a lieutenant of the Protective Security Forces at the hands of a group from Kabatya’, 03.02.2004

[37] Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, ‘PCHR calls upon the PA to investigate the deadly events that occurred in Gaza’, 06.02.2004,

[38] ‘Two police officers and a Hamas member injured during a fight in Gaza’, PHRMG Field Researcher, 22.08.2003

[39] ‘Shooting of a Palestinian by veiled gunmen in Nablus’, PHRMG Field Researcher, 18.11.2003

[40] ‘An attempt to analyze the internal violence in Palestinian society in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank’, Dr. Musleeh Kana’neh, 30.12.2003, published in ‘Al-Bidar’ (annex to Al-Ayyam)(Arabic)

[41] ‘Vigilantes take control of West Bank streets’, Lara Sukhtian, 11.02.2004

[42] ‘A man killed in Salem village, East Nablus’, PHRMG Field Researcher, 25.08.2003

[43] Palestinian Centre for Human Rights’, ‘PCHR calls for an investigation into a murder in Gaza Central Prison’, 29.12.2003,

[44] ‘Palestinians storm court, killing three after guilty verdict’, The Guardian, Brian Whitaker, February 6, 2002,,2763,645629,00.html

[45] ‘Palestinian killed by Palestinian gunfire’, PHRMG Field Researcher, 24.10.2003

[46] ‘Finding of a child’s body killed by several stabs’, Al Quds newspaper, 19.10.2003

[47] ‘Murder of youngster by a bullet mistakenly shot by his friend’, Al Quds newspaper, 20.01.2004

[48] ‘Murder of minor Ameed Akkad’, PHRMG Field Researcher, 02.03.2004

[49] ‘Reporters Without Borders calls on Yasser Arafat to act after killing of journalist’, Reporters Without Borders, 02.03.2004,

[50] ‘Frustrated Palestinians say Arafat out of control’, Chris Mitchell, 11.03.2004, CBN News,

[51] ‘On violence and resistance’, Iyad Sarraj, in ‘Palestine-Israel Journal of Politics, Economics and Culture’, Vol. 10, No. 1, 2003

[52] ‘Analysis: Hamas may be the only side to profit from Yassin’s death’, Danny Rubinstein, Ha’aretz, 22.03.2004,

[53] ‘Violence fills the vacuum as Gaza becomes lawless’, Financial Times, Harvey Morris, 18 February 2004,

[54] ‘Vanishing Solutions’, The Guardian, 13 February 2004,

[55] ‘Palestinian Public Opinion Poll’, 19 December 2003, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung,

[56] ‘An attempt to analyze the internal violence in Palestinian society in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank’, Dr. Musleeh Kana’neh, 30.12.2003, published in Al-Bidar (Annex to Al-Ayyam) – (Arabic)