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Patterns of Israeli Violence
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2. Patterns of Israeli Violence


PART II FOCUSES ON REPERTOIRES OF Israeli violence, implicitly comparing their style, organization, and results to the Serbian patterns explored in Part I. My goal is to explain why Israel engaged in ethnic policing rather than ethnic cleansing during the 1988 Palestinian uprising, despite the potential for more despotic measures. My explanation focuses on institutional setting: whereas Bosnia was a frontier vis-à-vis Serbia, Palestine was constituted as an ethnic ghetto within Israel, which exercised infrastructural control over the West Bank and Gaza. When combined with international human rights pressures, this regime of power led to ethnic policing, rather than forced depopulation.

As I did in the Serbian case study, I support my claims by exploring within-case variations, exploring varying repertoires by the same state in different institutional settings. In particular, I note that while Israeli forces used police-style methods in Palestine, they used more despotic methods in Lebanon. Both Palestine and Lebanon were militarily occupied by Israel, but the former was folded into the fabric of the Israeli state through policies of de facto annexation. Although Palestine's internalization made it more difficult to escape Israeli control, it also offered some basic protections. Lebanon, by contrast, was not integrated into Israel's zone of infrastructural power, and was therefore exposed to sporadic bouts of intense violence and Israeli intervention through paramilitary proxies.

I begin by describing the rise of radical Jewish nationalism during the late 1970s and 1980s, tracing the phenomenon to the availability of new Arab lands for colonization, intra-elite Jewish conflicts, and social protest from marginalized Jewish constituencies. Chapter 6 charts the emergence of a regime of Israeli infrastructural power in Palestine, while Chapter 7 analyzes repertoires of Israeli ethnic policing in 1988, the first and most intense year of the uprising. Chapter 8 examines within-case Israeli variations by studying its repertoires in Lebanon, which were more intense, but much less comprehensive, than in Palestine. It also looks at partially aborted attempts by Jewish paramilitaries to introduce their own brand of nationalist violence into the West Bank and Gaza during the 1980s. Had institutional conditions been otherwise, these groups, along with some supporters in the Israeli state apparatus, might

have become the functional equivalent of Republika Srpska, the Bosnian Serb entity.

In the late 1970s and 1980s, Jewish nationalists became increasingly radicalized, focusing on the alleged Palestinian demographic threat to Zionism and the need for securing Israeli control over Judea and Samaria, their term for the Palestinian West Bank. Devoted to creating and maintaining a Jewish nation-state in historic Palestine, Zionism in all its manifestations was nationalist by definition. Still, as had been true in the Serbian case, there was substantial disagreement among Zionists over how best to implement the national program. Although both left and right Zionists favored some form of continued Israeli control over the West Bank and Gaza Strip, there were important differences of style and emphasis. The left-leaning Labor Party favored a more cautious colonization strategy and piecemeal military withdrawal, while the right-leaning Likud supported comprehensive Jewish settlement efforts and long-term control over all, or virtually all, Palestinian lands.

In the late 1970s, the Jewish political scene drifted rightward following profound changes in the domestic balance of political power. The Labor Party, which had led the Zionist movement and Israel for over forty years, was unseated in the 1977 elections by its arch-rival, the Likud bloc, which deftly fused radical nationalism with religious and ethnic protest.[1] As political scientist Ian Lustick notes, the Likud victory "brought to power men and women committed above all else to reshaping the state in conformance with norms of integralist, irredentist nationalism and active messianism."[2] This group revolutionized Israeli-Palestinian politics, sending tens of thousands of Jewish settlers into heavily populated Palestinian areas, annexing land, and consolidating Israel's control over the West Bank and Gaza. Importantly for our purposes, the new coalition included a number of leaders devoted to the notion of "transferring" Palestinians from their homes. Some spoke of "voluntary transfer" through payments and not-so-subtle legal pressures, but the specter of forced deportation often lurked beneath the surface. As we saw in the Serbian case, however, few political leaders were willing to openly discuss forced expulsions.

The nationalists' desire to see Palestinians leave the Land of Israel, as some referred to the area encompassing Israel proper and the West Bank, did not begin with Israel's radical right revival in the 1970s. Some scholars suggest that much of what passed for radical Zionist thought in the

contemporary era, including land colonization and population transfer, originated in early mainstream Zionist thought. Indeed, Israel's most outspoken proponent of transfer in the 1980s, the former general-turned-politician Rehava'am Ze'evi, argued that Zionism was in its essence "a transfer movement," citing Labor's role in expelling "hundreds of thousands of Arabs" during the 1947–49 war.[3] Some historians would agree with Ze'evi's claim, recalling that the notion of Palestinian "transfer" tempted leading Zionists of all persuasions prior to the creation of Israel in 1948. According to Nur Masalha, for example, protransfer policies were embraced in the first half of this century "by almost all shades of [Zionist] opinion, from the … Right to the Labor left," including "virtually every member of the Zionist pantheon of founding fathers and important leaders."[4] But while tacit support for ethnic cleansing may have been part of the Zionist legacy, contemporary Jewish nationalism, like its Serbian counterpart, was a complex phenomenon, with multiple interpretations coexisting uneasily under the same roof. Just as Serbian radical nationalism emerged in the late 1980s in response to communist decline and internal Serbian political struggles, so radical Zionism emerged in the same period following tensions within the Jewish-Israeli polity.

The most important change in Israeli domestic politics during the 1970s was increased activism by lower-class Sephardic Jews, whose protest against Ashkenazi political, economic, and cultural dominance became a powerful political force. Their resentment dated to the 1950s, when hundreds of thousands of Sephardic Jews immigrated to Israel from Asia and North Africa, encountering discrimination upon arrival by Labor-controlled state agencies. The new arrivals were sent to large and uncomfortable transit camps, escape from which was often possible only by accepting relocation to the poorest or least desirable locations.[5] More significantly, perhaps, the largely Ashkenazi Labor movement, which controlled much of Israeli industry and the country's employment offices, channeled Sephardics toward low-skilled industrial and agricultural work, regarding the newcomers from Arab countries as unskilled or "uncivilized" labor. Ashkenazi immigrants, by contrast, tended to fare much better.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Sephardic Jews did not launch sustained social protests, largely due to their dependence on Labor-controlled employment and welfare agencies. By the mid-1960s, however, their reliance on government services had declined, and by the early 1970s,

Sephardic protests were changing the face of Israeli politics, including street demonstrations, aggressive social movements, and a powerful critique of Ashkenazi dominance.[6] In the 1977 elections Sephardic voters voted heavily for Likud, and Labor never regained its political predominance.[7]

Israel's political scene might not have changed so dramatically, however, had Labor's long-standing alliance with the Zionist national-religious movement not come to an end. For decades, Labor had led the Zionist movement and Israel with the help of the smaller but influential religious Zionists, whose main political vehicle was the National Religious Party (NRP). Although Labor was a secular movement, it found common ground with NRP elites willing to support Labor's goals of a Jewish state, land colonization, and state-led economic development. In return, Labor granted religious groups important concessions, including their own network of publicly funded schools. The alliance was far from harmonious, however, with tensions occasionally erupting into bitter religious-secular debates. For religious politicians, Labor's grip on the Zionist movement was often galling, as it relegated them to junior status in a largely secular movement.

Labor's dominance was grounded in its control of public industry, the military, and the civil service, as well as in the reservoir of cultural capital it had amassed during Zionism's state-building era. Having led the Zionist movement through early colonization and war, Labor's cultural and political capital was vast. If religious Zionists could not claim a similarly impressive record of military and settlement-building achievements, they were destined to remain junior partners in a Labor-dominated Israel.

The 1967 Arab-Israeli war and the occupation of new Palestinian lands provided religious Zionists with the opportunity they needed. Secure in their pre-state pioneering credentials, Labor had little to prove, favoring a limited Jewish colonization effort in the West Bank. The National Religious Party's "young guard," conversely, was eager to press ahead with wide-scale Jewish settlement, realizing they faced a unique opportunity to bolster their political standing.[8] Drawing on an innovative interpretation of standard Jewish texts, the NRP's young guard argued the West Bank was integral to the sacred Land of Israel and should therefore be massively and swiftly settled by Jews in order to hasten the Messiah's coming. In so doing, the young guard borrowed a page from Labor's book, mimicking their prestigious pre-state land colonization by aggressively claiming Palestinian territory for the Jewish nation. This

time, however, it would be religious Zionists who would reap the political rewards, not the secular leftists.

The young guard created their own powerful social movement, Gush Emunim, or Bloc of the Faithful, and developed an ideology merging Labor's pre-state colonization rhetoric with messianic Jewish nationalism.[9] Although many Labor activists sympathized with the latter-day pioneers, Labor's leaders were generally loathe to lend unreserved support to the colonization efforts. In 1976, disputes over colonization and other issues prompted the National Religious Party to break with Labor and ally itself with Likud, which favored a more aggressive settlement policy. The historic pact between Labor Zionists and religious Jewish nationalists was finally over.

The Sephardic working class was conservative but not necessarily religious and had no natural inclination to work with the largely Ashkenazi religious Zionists. These two unlikely partners were drawn together, however, through skillful maneuvering by yet another Ashkenazi political force, the Likud, which fused Sephardic and national-religious ambitions into a powerful new synthesis. The Likud bloc was led by the Herut faction, heir to Zionism's right-wing "Revisionist" movement. Both Herut and Labor were led by Ashkenazi Jews, but they were rooted in very different ideological traditions. Labor Zionism was a child of nationalist but left-leaning Eastern European thinkers, while the Revisionists drew on the quasi-fascist Polish intellectual tradition.[10] Unlike the National Religious Party, Herut was never a Labor Zionist ally.[11]

The Labor-Revisionist and later Labor-Herut rivalry was intense, obscuring their shared commitment to fundamental national goals. The main differences were tactical. The Revisionists and Herut favored aggressive military and diplomatic action against Zionism's opponents, while Labor preferred a more nuanced, low-key approach. At its root the rivalry was political, as both Labor and the Revisionists viewed themselves as Zionism's rightful leaders. By advocating Greater Israel and anti-Labor positions in the 1970s, Likud appealed to both the national-religious and Sephardic protest camps. Labor had subordinated both for too long, and Likud won the 1977 national elections by promising each greater participation and social respect.[12]

The post-1977 Zionist right included both secular and religious political parties, ranging from the mainstream right, such as the Likud and the Nationalist Religious Party, to the more radically nationalist Tehiya, Kach, and Moledet parties. It is difficult to determine where "mainstream right" ended and "radical right" began, however, since the two

drew so close together during the 1980s. As political scientist Ehud Sprinzak notes, the power of Israel's radical right should be measured in terms of its influence over mainstream rightist parties such as Likud and the National Religious Party, rather than by its electoral strength per se. By the end of the 1980s, Sprinzak argues, "approximately a quarter of the leaders and members of the Likud look[ed] at the world … through the ideological and symbolic prism of the radical right," together with "hundreds of thousands of Israelis."[13] The radical right had successfully shaped Israel's entire political discourse, forcing right, center, and left to shift further rightward.

The Likud bloc was the political right's main vote-getter, polling 20 to 30 percent of the Jewish electorate throughout the late 1970s and 1980s. The National Religious Party gradually lost ground to smaller religious parties, dropping from 10 percent in 1977 to a low of 3 percent in 1984.[14] Further to the right was Tehiya, a combined secular and religious party, which polled 6 to 8 percent during the 1980s, and Moledet, which ran first in 1988 on a pro-"transfer" policy, gaining 2 of 120 parliamentary seats.[15] Even further rightward was Kach, which earned one parliamentary seat in 1984 with 1.2 percent of the vote, but attracted growing support thereafter, polling 9 percent in 1985 surveys and anticipating five to seven seats in the next national elections. Kach was eventually banned from running in national elections by Israel's Supreme Court because of its openly racist and violent agenda.[16] In 1986, however, polls suggested that as many as 46 percent of Israel's Jews supported elements of Kach's political agenda, and in 1988, 22 percent believed far-right parties such as Kach, Tehiya, and Moledet offered "the best solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict."[17]

Underpinning Israel's rightward shift was Gush Emunim, a broad-based social movement with strong links to political elites, religious schools, civil servants, and the military. Ehud Sprinzak terms this Gush Emunim's "invisible realm," tracing its origins to years of close cooperation between the Gush and successive right-wing governments.[18] Gush sympathizers assumed positions throughout the Israeli civil service during the 1980s, granting the movement substantial influence over education, cultural activities, budgets, and planning. In Ian Lustick's view, Jewish radicalism was produced largely by Gush Emunim's efforts to naturalize Israeli rule over the West Bank and Gaza and to persuade Jews to support a Greater Israel agenda. Lustick's work charts a broad effort by Likud and the Gush to "encourage Jews to settle in all parts of the territories, encourage Arabs to emigrate from them, and strip as many legal,

administrative and psychological meanings as possible from the pre-1967 Green Line" dividing Israel proper from the occupied lands.[19] Official maps were altered to include Palestine as part of Israel, radio and TV stations were instructed to use the biblical terms "Judea and Samaria" when referring to the West Bank, and the Israeli legislature banned contacts between Israelis and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Jewish activists promoted nationalist themes of various kinds, all of which shared some form of anti-Palestinian sentiment, latent or explicit. Palestinians were portrayed as dangerous, anti-Semitic conspirators; foreign interlopers on Jewish land; descendants of the Israelites' biblical rivals, the "Amalek"; or as a potential fifth column.

By the end of the 1980s, Ehud Sprinzak argues, 25 percent of Jews supported the radical right's core views, partaking of a sociocultural "cult" that combined "extreme attitudes regarding the indivisibility of the Land of Israel, bitter hostility towards Arabs," and belief in the necessity of "never-ending war against the PLO," joined by "a constant siege mentality" and "enthusiastic utterances about religious redemption."[20] But the radical right's power was even greater, since it had become "a very influential school … pushing the entire Israeli right toward greater ultra-nationalism, greater extra-legalism, greater militarism, greater ethnocentrism, and greater religiosity."[21] Israeli scholar Ofira Seliktar labeled the phenomenon Israel's "New Zionism," noting that all Zionist parties, including Labor and the more radical left, adopted increasingly anti-Palestinian positions during the 1980s to keep pace.[22]

A series of 1988 polls conducted by Israeli sociologist Sammy Smooha are illustrative of Israel's political orientation during the 1980s. He found that 35 percent of Israel's Jews supported continued Israeli rule in the West Bank and Gaza, believing that if Palestinians disagreed, they should "keep quiet or leave the country," while an additional 21 percent thought Israel should rule over the West Bank and Gaza and that "Arabs … should accept what Jews decide." Some 56 percent of the Jewish-Israeli public, in other words, supported a rigidly stratified political system.[23]

In his discussion of Jewish nationalism, Charles Liebman distinguishes between "territorial nationalism," which advocated continued Jewish control over the West Bank and Gaza; "ethnic nationalism," defined as anti-Arab racism; and what he called "cultural nationalism," defined as a single-minded preoccupation with Jewish culture, values, and norms. These three strands merged in the early 1980s, Liebman argues,

and Israeli Jews overall became increasingly committed to "national pride, territorial expansion, hostility to other nations, and the elaboration of the national interest as a supreme social value."[24] Alarmed, Liebman registered growing incidents of anti-Arab verbal and physical abuse by Jewish civilians and police, as well as growing support among Jews for "restricting the civil rights of Arabs and/or of expelling them."[25] In a series of opinion surveys, Jews supported high levels of social distance between themselves and Palestinians and engaged in anti-Arab stereotyping. Liebman cited a 1984 poll demonstrating 70 percent support among Jews for residential segregation and 53 percent support for educational segregation. Smooha's 1988 polls found 49 percent of Jews reporting they "almost never" had contact with Arabs, 76 percent saying they had no Arab friends, and 61 percent opposed to the general notion of Arab-Jewish friendship.[26] The surveys also revealed that 68 percent of Israeli Jews were unwilling to work under an Arab supervisor, 44 percent believed Arabs would never reach Jewish levels of economic development, and that 38 percent believed Arabs were "primitive."[27]

On the whole, Israeli Jews were particularly hostile toward Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza, but many also held discriminatory views toward Palestinians living within Israel proper.[28] In 1984, 42 percent of Jews aged fifteen to eighteen believed that Israel's Palestinian citizens should have their rights curtailed, including their right to vote; 55 percent thought they should not be allowed to criticize the government; and 48 percent believed they should be barred from public office. Some 64 percent, moreover, believed that if Israel eventually annexed the West Bank and Gaza Strip, that region's Palestinians should be prevented from voting in Israeli elections.[29] Given these findings, it is not surprising that Smooha's 1988 surveys revealed overwhelming support among Israeli Jews for unequal public policies based on national or ethnic criteria. Some 76 percent believed Israel should be a homeland for Jews only, 73 percent believed the state should discriminate in favor of Jews, and only 19 percent believed it should treat all citizens equally, regardless of nationality. Indeed, the mere existence of Israeli Palestinian citizens was questioned by many, with almost 60 percent being opposed or holding "reservations" about their continued presence.[30] Sizeable segments of the Jewish public also supported harsh military action against non-citizen Palestinians in Lebanon, the West Bank, and Gaza. In 1988, 88 percent favored air force strikes on PLO bases in Lebanon, 36 percent supported revenge attacks on Palestinian refugee camps, and 71 percent believed Israel was justified in trying to "liquidate the PLO in Lebanon."[31]


Importantly, the notion of forcibly expelling Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza gained increasing support among Israeli Jews during the 1980s. As Lustick notes, "The idea of transferring Arabs en masse out of the country" passed from "the realm of the unthinkable … to the policy of choice" for those Israeli Jews favoring West Bank and Gaza annexation.[32] Polls indicated growing sympathy for expulsion schemes, although in a country saturated by opinion surveys of varying quality, extreme caution is advisable in interpreting results. In the early 1980s, one set of polls argued that some 15 percent of Jews supported expulsion through financial inducement or coercion. That figure rose to 22 percent in 1984, 35 percent in 1985, and 52 percent in 1989.[33] In 1986, another poll found, 43 percent viewed outright West Bank annexation and Arab expulsion as the most "acceptable" solution to the Israeli-Palestinian imbroglio, with 30 percent deeming it the "most favored" option.[34] Even Palestinians with Israeli citizenship were targets for pro-expulsion sentiment, with 22 percent of Jews believing Israel's Palestinian citizens should be "forced to live outside of Israel," and 42 percent believing that "Israel should seek and use any opportunity to encourage Israeli Arabs to leave the state."[35] Remarkably, the survey found that only 24 percent of Israel's Jews disagreed with the prospect entirely.

To be sure, other surveys revealed less significant support for Palestinian expulsions, including a 1988 finding of only 25 percent in favor of either expulsion or "extensive" violence against rebellious Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.[36] Polls on politically and morally sensitive topics are always subject to variation due to differences in survey wording and current events. It is possible that surveys revealing lower levels of pro-expulsion sentiment provided other options on their questionnaire, while those demonstrating higher support mentioned expulsion as a measure of "last resort," once other policies had clearly failed. Regardless of which figures we use, however, the evidence indicates the growth of a substantial Jewish constituency in favor of Palestinian ethnic cleansing during the 1980s.

At the same time, Israel's political elites also began discussing expulsion schemes more openly. Two of the most radical right-wing parties, Kach and Moledet, made expulsion an explicit part of their platforms, while Tehiya proposed to "resettle outside of the Land of Israel" some 500,000 Palestinians prior to signing a regional peace deal. According to Tehiya leader Yuval Ne'eman, Israel should annex all Palestinian territories and extend citizenship only to a handful of its non-Jewish residents, using what he called "accepted legal and civilized methods" to

"reduce the dimensions of the Arab population in the Jewish state, or at least its political impact." As such, Ne'eman believed that Tehiya's plans were different from those of the extremist Kach party, whose agenda used even more graphically violent rhetoric.[37]

Israel's mainstream right-wing parties never officially supported Palestinian expulsion, although there is evidence suggesting that the idea was increasingly mentioned in private.[38] In 1988, pollsters discovered that 40 percent of the Likud central caucus supported transfer as a method of last resort. Another survey revealed that 36 percent of Likud's voters were in favor of either expulsion or extensive anti-Palestinian violence.[39] Indeed, it seems that as many as two-thirds of Israel's pro-expulsion constituency were also Likud voters.[40] At times, some Likud leaders did openly voice support of transfer schemes, as in the case of one parliamentarian who said Palestinians with Israeli citizenship should leave the country, or a second legislator's comment that a mutually agreeable transfer scheme "should not be excluded" from discussion.[41] In 1989, Binyamin Netanyahu, a senior Likud party member and later prime minister, complained of the government's failure to take advantage of international crises to carry out "large-scale" expulsions at a time when "the damage to [Israel's public relations] would have been relatively small," but still believed that there were "opportunities to expel many people."[42]

As a general rule, Israeli officials were careful not to voice pro-transfer sentiment in public. There are indications, however, that at least some authorities were conducting behind-the-scenes transfer discussions. In 1980, Aharon Yariv, a parliamentarian and former head of Israeli military intelligence, warned there was widespread support for "exploiting" a war between Israel and its neighbors to forcibly expel 700,000–800,000 Palestinians.[43] Other indicators include 1987 comments by Likud deputy defense minister Michael Dekel that Western powers had a "moral and political" responsibility to help Israel transfer Palestinians from the West Bank to Jordan, since there was no other way of resolving the Palestinian-Israeli dispute.[44] In 1988, Yosef Shapira—then government minister and senior member of the National Religious Party—proposed paying Palestinians to leave the West Bank and Gaza for good.[45] He floated the scheme following a 1987 survey that found 62 percent of Jewish rabbis in West Bank and Gaza settlements believing Palestinians should be "encouraged" to leave, 15 percent supporting outright expulsions, and only 10 percent rejecting transfer entirely.[46] Indeed,

some right-wingers seemed to almost hope for a major war that might permit Israel to engage in forced expulsions.[47]

In the years prior to the 1987 Palestinian uprising, a segment of Israel's Jewish public and leadership were intrigued by the notion of resolving Israel's security and demographic dilemmas through forced depopulation. Like all nationalists, Zionists shared a broad set of core beliefs, including the prioritization of one national community's interests over others and efforts to link state, nation, and sacred territory. There were differences of interpretation regarding the manner in which these goals were to be achieved, however, and only one segment of the leadership and population were willing to take the logic of Jewish nationalism to its most radical conclusion. Under appropriate institutional conditions, this interpretation might have developed into a full-blown policy of ethnic cleansing, much as Serbian radicalism did in Bosnia and, later, in Kosovo. Yet as the following chapters suggest, the ethnic cleansing option became less viable due to Palestine's changing institutional setting. As the area became an ethnic enclave within a broader, Jewish-controlled space, the notion of forced expulsions became less realistic. The more Palestinians were securely trapped within Israel's embrace, the less likely their ethnic cleansing became. The next chapter discusses Israel's policy of de facto annexation after 1967, which gradually embedded Palestinians within the bureaucratic fabric of the Jewish state, showing that Israel devised a regime of infrastructural power to secure long-term control over Palestine, inadvertently creating subordinate and partially protected wards of the Israeli polity.


6. Creating the Palestinian Ghetto

Just prior to the first Israeli-Arab war, Zionist leader David Ben Gurion warned against extending citizenship to Palestinians slated to live in the new, UN-designated Jewish state. Citizenship for the new state's Arab community, Ben Gurion believed, would mean that in wartime, "it would only be possible to imprison [the Palestinians]," rather than to expel them.[1] When fighting erupted soon after, the relevance of his comments became clear, as Jewish troops participated in the often forced removal of some 750,000 Palestinians over international borders in a campaign that today would be termed ethnic cleansing. By 1949, only 150,000 Palestinians remained in the fledgling Jewish state.[2]

During the 1967 war, however, Israeli forces chose a different path. Although as many as 300,000 Palestinians left the West Bank or were deported during or immediately after the fighting, most stayed put. Israel did not offer them citizenship, but it did issue official identity cards and register them as wards of the Israeli military. As Ben Gurion had feared in the late 1940s, this inadvertently hardwired Palestinians into the Israeli state and bureaucracy, constraining the country's options for removing them. Israel had never intended to grant Palestinians a protected niche, using the identity cards and other methods of surveillance as techniques of domination and control.[3] By spinning a powerful web of infrastructural power to control Palestinian territory and population, however, Israel unwittingly transformed Palestinians into semi-protected, quasi-members of the polity.



After the 1967 war, Israel's overriding political concern was to balance its desire for more Palestinian land with the unwelcome presence of actual Palestinians Groping for a solution, officials devised plans for a Palestinian "enclave," "self-governing region," "autonomous area," or even "mini-state." The details of each scheme were different, but they shared the goal of gaining as much Palestinian land with as few Palestinians as possible. As Israel searched for a solution, some politicians recognized the risks involved in creating a permanent Palestinian enclave in the West Bank surrounded by Israeli settlers and troops. In 1967, for example, one cabinet minister protested, "We can't say that it [the West Bank] is all ours, and that in the middle we are going to make a ghetto for 1 million Arabs, informing them, ‘do as we tell you.’" Or as another minister warned, international anti-colonial sentiment was such that it was impossible to create "a piece of territory inhabited mostly by Arabs whose security and foreign relations we control." Who, the minister asked incredulously, would tolerate such a colonial anachronism?[4] For the most part, however, Israeli leaders pushed these dilemmas aside, avoiding substantive discussion of the contradiction between land and population. By the late 1970s, observers began to speak of Israel's "creeping annexation" of Palestinian lands and by the mid-1980s, a generation of Jewish-Israelis had grown up assuming that the West Bank and Gaza were integral parts of Israel. A subordinate Palestinian enclave had become reality, although it was never officially acknowledged as such by either Jewish or Palestinian political elites.

From 1967 to 1987, Israel consolidated its infrastructural regime of power over Palestine by sealing the enclave's external borders, crushing internal armed resistance, rationalizing its mechanisms of control, and integrating its economy.

Sealing the Ghetto's Borders

As the Kosovo case made clear, an area's effective transformation into a ghetto-like enclave requires that its borders be effectively controlled by the dominant state. Shortly after the 1967 occupation, Israel realized it could not properly control the West Bank unless it had sealed its boundaries. Palestinian guerrillas, like their Kosova Liberation Army counterparts years later, understood this fact all too well. If the guerrillas could not maintain a physical link to the homeland, their credibility and effectiveness

would be imperiled.[5] Palestinian fighters chose to try to penetrate the West Bank's border with Jordan because of that country's substantial Palestinian refugee population and the length of the boundary. The largest Palestinian guerrilla group, Fatah, was the first to launch cross-border raids, and its (modest) battlefield success near the border town of Karameh provided it with thousands of new recruits, prompting other Palestinian groups to mount their own cross-border infiltration efforts.[6]

To a significant extent, Palestinian guerrillas modeled their cross-border efforts on the experiences of Algerian and Vietnamese guerrillas.[7] Jordan, in this view, was to become a North Vietnam-style rear base, while the West Bank was to be the "South Vietnam" battlefield. In those years, Palestinians often situated their struggle within the larger global anti-colonial and anti-Western movement. The 1969 Fatah mission statement, for example, noted that the "struggle of the Palestinian people, like that of the Vietnamese … and other peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America, is part of the historic process of the liberation of the oppressed peoples from colonialism and imperialism."[8] The Algerian example was of particular relevance, as Algeria had just won independence from French colonial rule, and cross-border efforts had been integral to the process.[9] Algerian leaders, moreover, played a key role in promoting the creation of the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1964.[10] The Vietnam war was still ongoing during Fatah's early years, and cross-border infiltration was a crucial theme there as well. Drawing on these experiences, Palestinian guerrillas hoped to mount a similar effort along the Jordanian border, slipping across the valley floor, hiking up through Israeli-controlled foothills, and then joining armed supporters in the West Bank highlands.

Israel launched a vigorous border patrol effort, destroying Palestinian border villages, laying minefields, building fences, plowing tracking roads, and laying ambushes.[11] It was aided by the terrain, which was not conducive to guerrilla infiltration. As one British journalist noted, "The West Bank is not Vietnam," since its mountains "are empty and stony. Movement is easy to spot and control. Crossing the river Jordan, infiltrators have to climb out of the deep valley, to labor up rocky slopes carrying heavy arms and equipment."[12] Equally debilitating were political complications. Jordan eventually proved inhospitable, as the monarchy was eager to maintain good relations with the United States, Britain, and even Israel.[13] In 1970–71 Jordanian troops moved against the guerrillas, forcing them flee to Lebanon in a series of events known to Palestinians

as "Black September."[14] Thereafter, Israel and Jordan worked jointly, if unofficially, to patrol their shared boundary, effectively sealing the West Bank off from external guerrillas. Shlomo Gazit, then a senior Israeli military officer in the West Bank, noted that "if not for this [Israeli] success in sealing the borders—i.e., had terrorists been able to infiltrate arms past the borders, or had terrorist bands been able to penetrate and establish themselves inside the territories—then internal security problems would most certainly have been of an entirely different nature."[15] And, he might have added, the Palestinian ghetto would never have emerged.

Suppressing Internal Armed Resistance

At the same time, Israeli forces were vigorously stamping out military challenges within the Palestinian enclave itself. As Serbia discovered in Kosovo during 1998, a state cannot legitimately claim a monopoly over organized violence if it loses empirical sovereignty. After 1967, therefore, Israeli attempts to suppress armed Palestinian resistance from within the West Bank and Gaza became crucial to the Israeli control efforts, as well as becoming a vital way station on the road to Palestinian ghetto formation.

In summer 1967, Fatah leader Yasser Arafat infiltrated the West Bank, hoping to organize an internal armed insurgency. Arafat and his colleagues traveled the West Bank for months, and although they did recruit some willing supporters, their campaign largely failed.[16] Local Palestinian elites feared Israeli and Jordanian reprisals, and the guerrillas' support within the broader Arab world was weak. Israel's counterinsurgency apparatus, led by its internal security services (known then as the Shin Bet, or Sherutei Bitachon), was also tremendously effective. Together, these factors militated against a successful armed insurgency, and by 1971, Israel had effectively eliminated all serious external and internal armed challenges to its rule, wedging the Palestinian enclave firmly within its walls. As Black and Morris explain,

[Israel's] sealing of the border with Jordan meant that the West Bank was almost completely cut off from the outside world; its population—a large part of the Palestinian people—isolated and controlled by their occupier. There were no "no-go" areas for the Israelis, no "liberated zones" where resistance could flourish.… This [Israeli] success prevented the Palestinians from launching a people's war at the very moment that their ideology required it.


As a result, they note, the Palestinian occupied territories "never became Algeria or Vietnam."[17] Although these models had originally inspired the Palestinian guerrilla movement, circumstances militated against their Middle Eastern application. Israel had cut Palestine off from the outside world and Palestinian insurgents were unable to mount an effective armed challenge from within. The West Bank and Gaza were not formally part of Israel; increasingly, however, they were being drawn into the state as subordinate members of the Israeli polity.

Rationalizing Israel's Control Mechanisms

Israeli military and civilian agencies also cast a tightly woven administrative web across the West Bank and Gaza, setting up a centralized hierarchy of commands and responsibilities and incorporating the region into Israel's bureaucracy.[18] This rationalization of control was a key source of Israel's growing levels of infrastructural power in Palestine. As a first step, Israeli forces established a grid of regional jurisdictions, leaving no corner of the West Bank and Gaza without a military commander. In 1981, the army placed the West Bank under the military's Central Command and folded Gaza into the southern equivalent, merging Palestine into the army's administrative framework for Israel proper. More importantly, the government extended the authority of Israel's civilian ministries to Palestine soon after the occupation began. "Once the territories had been occupied," Gazit explains, "there was no point in establishing a separate machinery alongside the regular civilian administration of Israel's government ministries … it was both necessary and desirable that one control center should direct … activity in Israel and the territories … any separation … would have created thorny problems of coordination."[19] Thus, for example, the Israeli ministry of health took responsibility for Palestinian hospitals, while the ministry of internal affairs issued Palestinians identity cards and travel documents. Formally, Israel's civilian bureaucrats worked in Palestine only through the military command, but in practice, Israel was developing a new militarycivilian hybrid tying Palestine to Israel's civilian bureaucracy.

Bureaucratic incorporation was matched by the military government's urge to enumerate, monitor, and survey as many Palestinian objects as possible. In 1970, for example, the military published an exquisitely detailed report on the Palestinian economy and population, listing the precise number of licensed carpenters, printing presses, fire trucks, and water wells.[20] The report even made detailed inventories of

Palestinian workshops for cement, furniture, cigarettes, soap, metals, olive products, and sweets.[21] Nothing was too small to count, and no object was too minor to register. Perhaps most significant in this respect was the state's registration of the Palestinian population itself and its creation of detailed document-verification procedures.[22] Each Palestinian received a numbered card from the state that had to be carried at all times, facilitating the military's ability to track dissidents and rebels.

Israeli administrative control soon became a double-edged sword, however, since by inscribing Palestinian lives and assets into Israel's bureaucratic registries, those entities were transformed into objects of state responsibility. As Israeli leader Ben Gurion had warned in 1947, Israel's decision to issue identity papers to Palestinians eventually served as a constraint on Israeli policy. Identity papers did not entitle Palestinians to political rights within Israel, but they did create a bureaucratic status that would, eventually, be transformed into a diluted form of polity membership. If a Palestinian disappeared, the authorities could not deny his or her existence, since that person was registered with the ministry of interior; villages or property could not be destroyed at will, since they had been given an official bureaucratic niche, and by counting, registering, and controlling them, Israel had assumed a modicum of moral and legal responsibility for their fate.

Israel's imposition of an elaborate "law-and-order" structure in Palestine was another key mechanism for rationalizing state power. Immediately upon seizing the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, for example, the military proclaimed that "the Israel Defense Forces have today entered this area and assumed responsibility for security and maintenance of public order."[23] Soon after, Israeli civilian police were deployed into the area, inserting Israeli officers over local Palestinian personnel.[24] The military's legal division generated comprehensive laws regulating most aspects of Palestinian life, and by 1992, the authorities had issued over 1,300 new laws and regulations.[25] Some of those laws were entirely appropriate to Palestine's status as occupied military territory, but others seem to have been driven by an urge to rationalize, control, and administer. The first category includes Order #329, which defined the term "infiltrator," and Order #1099, which specified the powers of Israeli prison guards. The second, more intrusive category includes Order #306, which determined the number of Palestinian sheep-grazing permits, and Order #1147, which specified the military permits Palestinian vegetable growers were required to obtain.

Legal scholars debated the precise status of the occupied territories

and Israel's rights and obligations as an occupying power.[26] Israeli representatives, for example, rejected the applicability of the Geneva Conventions to the West Bank and Gaza, arguing that sovereignty had been disputed prior to 1967, and that the territories were therefore "administered" lands whose political status was to be determined. Palestinian and international scholars disputed this interpretation, regarding it as justification for colonization and annexation. Another debate focused on the jurisdiction and fairness of the Israeli Supreme Court. Israel's defenders highlighted the court's rulings against Israeli military actions as evidence of Israel's respect for legality, while critics noted that the judges rarely argued with the military on any point of substance, suggesting that the court's main job was to legitimize Israeli rule.

Regardless of their merits, these debates obscured a broader institutional point. Israel had acknowledged its legal responsibility for events in Palestine, informing domestic and international audiences that the region was under its empirical and juridical sovereignty. As the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem pointed out, "Since 1967, the IDF [Israeli military] has borne overall responsibility for maintaining law and order in the [occupied] Territories. International law obligates, therefore, the IDF to protect the life, person, and property of all Palestinians under its control."[27] Had the region been constituted as a frontier, Israeli officials would not have been obliged to accept responsibility for it. Palestinian interests were subordinated to those of Israel, but Jewish domination was enacted through public laws, regulations, and administrative decisions. Palestinian subordination was "lawfully" conducted in full public view, presenting a very different model than that of Bosnia, where non-Serbs were assaulted by clandestine, irregular militias operating through illegal channels.

Integrating the Ghetto Economy

After 1967, Israeli increasingly folded the Palestinian economy into that of Israel, transforming the West Bank and Gaza into dependent, laborexporting enclaves. The first steps were taken soon after the war, primarily at the instigation of the then-Israeli defense minister, Moshe Dayan, who issued permits to Palestinians seeking work in Israel. Dayan's plan was to stabilize the occupation and provide the military with tools to punish Palestinians should they choose to rebel. "If Hebron's electricity grid comes from our [Israeli] central grid and we are able to pull the plug and thus cut them off," Dayan once explained, "this

is clearly better than a thousand curfews and riot-dispersals."[28] In 1983, that vision became reality when Palestinian municipalities were hooked up to the Israeli telephone and electricity systems.[29] When the Intifada began in late 1987, Israeli control over these and other essential services proved crucial.

As former West Bank military officer Shlomo Gazit acknowledged, Israel guided the process of economic integration to maximize benefits for Jewish economic and political interests. "Political considerations" led government ministers "to prefer … the Israeli economy over the needs of the territories," he wrote, and ministers were reluctant to "subordinate, even in the slightest, Israeli (perhaps even Jewish) economic interests for the good of the Arabs living in the territories." The Israeli government did so because it recognized that "its electorate lay entirely" within Israel.[30] Palestinians were drawn into Israel's economy, but only at its bottommost rungs. Some Palestinian enterprises competing with Israelis were denied permits, while others were driven out of business entirely by state-subsidized Jewish industries. As the two economies drew closer together, the effects of unequal competition proved increasingly prejudicial to Palestinian self-sufficiency.[31]

One of the most dramatic consequences was a marked shift in Palestinian employment patterns. In 1982, some 75,000 Palestinians worked for Jewish employers, but by the late 1980s, the number was closer to 100,000, representing almost 30 percent of the Palestinian labor force. "Non-citizen" Arabs, according to two Israeli sociologists, had become the "hewers of wood and the drawers of water" for the Jewish economy, performing the lowest paid, most physically taxing, and least intellectually demanding jobs. Palestinian occupational segregation was "extreme," they said, noting that Palestinians were dramatically "overrepresented at the bottom of the occupational ladder and underrepresented in the higher-status occupations."[32] With few legal rights, Palestinians were non-unionized and open to Jewish exploitation. "Non-citizen Arabs" were "placed at the end of the job queue, … [tended] to hold the least desirable jobs … [and found] work conditions even less negotiable than other subordinate groups," largely due to their "unique legal and political status" as non-citizen wards of Israel.[33] Although some Palestinians initially benefited from Israeli jobs, the economy as a whole developed a long-term and ultimately debilitating dependency.[34] When times turned bad, Palestinian laborers found themselves at the mercy of Israeli employers, border patrols, and economic cycles, while Jewish businessmen found alternative sources of cheap and compliant labor. By 1987, the

West Bank and Gaza had become almost "fully integrated ‘provinces’ of the Israeli economy," according to an Israeli economic team.[35]

Israel's efforts to consolidate its control had locked Palestine securely within the confines of the state. Its borders were sealed, its internal insurgents were crushed, and its bureaucratic, legal, and economic infrastructures were closely tied to those of Israel. Palestine might yet have wrenched itself from ghetto status had it succeeded in convincing Western powers and international institutions to support its cause. If NATO and the UN had behaved with Israel as they had with Serbia, threatening sanctions if Israel did not withdraw, things might have turned out differently. International forces did not pursue this course, however, despite some sympathy for the Palestinian cause and intense Palestinian diplomatic efforts.


Paradoxically, Palestinians registered remarkable international diplomatic successes in the 1970s and early 1980s. By December 1987, when the Intifada began, the PLO was heavily embedded in international media and bureaucracies, gaining observer status at the UN and other international agencies, speaking regularly to representatives of elite global media outlets, and receiving quasi-diplomatic recognition by dozens of countries. This process was capped in November 1988 when the PLO's self-proclaimed "State of Palestine" was recognized by 120 UN memberstates.

These remarkable achievements were blunted, however, by the refusal of major Western powers to exercise the same kind of pressure on Israel that would later be deployed against Serbia. The Security Council did not order Israel to withdraw from occupied lands, NATO did not threaten air strikes, and the great powers did not impose economic sanctions. The most significant Western countries refused to recognize the Palestinian state, calling instead on Israel to respect Palestinian human rights and begin political negotiations. In fact, Western countries seemed most interested in keeping Israel firmly in control of the West Bank and Gaza until a final deal was struck. The PLO had placed its case before international audiences, but it could not win entry to the inner circle of Western-authorized, internationally recognized sovereign states. As such, its diplomatic achievements were far less substantial than those of the ex-Yugoslav republic of Bosnia, which earned full recognition as a sovereign state in April 1992.


Building a Diplomatic Coalition: The PLO and Arab States

In 1947, following vigorous debates between Jews, British colonialists, and Palestinians, a UN commission proposed creating a Palestinian state on 41 percent of mandatory Palestine. Discussions of Palestinian statehood faded after 1947–49, however, as Jewish forces had seized some 70 percent of the region, while Jordan and Egypt had taken the rest. Autonomous Palestinian forces played only a small role in the fighting, and until 1967, Palestinians were treated by all sides as marginal players. This trend dovetailed with the intellectual thrust of pan-Arabism, which emphasized Arab unity over the interests of particular Arab groups. Resolution of the Israeli-Arab imbroglio was supposedly the responsibility of the entire Arab world, not of the Palestinians themselves.

An initial effort to create separate Palestinian organizations was launched in Kuwait in 1959, when a handful of Palestinians formed the Fatah guerrilla group. The faction remained politically marginal, however, as long as Arab states claimed a lead role in dealing with Israel. Other refugees created Palestinian unions in Egypt and the Persian Gulf, but these too remained outside the political mainstream. The PLO was founded in 1964, adding weight to the notion of an autonomous Palestine, but the organization remained heavily constrained by Egypt, its chief supporter. Guerrilla groups such as Fatah were not yet in control of the PLO, and the organization did not become a state-seeking body until 1967, when military defeat discredited the pan-Arabist movement.

Autonomous Palestinian politics began in earnest after the war, starting with a wave of anti-Israeli guerrilla attempts. Their manifest goal was to defeat Israeli military forces, but their more important (latent) goal was to create a distinct Palestinian national identity centered around notions of armed struggle and self-reliance.[36] Although the guerrillas spoke of liberating all of mandatory Palestine (including Israel proper), they mostly used infiltration operations to promote their organizations, raise funds, mobilize Palestinians, and win Arab recognition. Within a short time, the strategy paid off, and in July 1968, Fatah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) gained half the seats in the PLO's legislative body.

Although the PLO's guerrilla efforts against Israel were largely ineffectual, the organization's diplomatic and political initiatives fared much better. In 1973, the PLO persuaded Arab states to secretly recognize it as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, and one year later, that recognition was made public.[37] From then on, the PLO's monopoly

over Palestinian representation was largely uncontested by Arab states, save for the occasional Jordanian challenge.[38] Equally important was the PLO's ability to garner support in the West Bank and Gaza, where it faced stiff Israeli and Jordanian political opposition. In 1976, Israel encouraged municipal elections in the occupied areas, hoping to generate a more accommodating local leadership but was alarmed to discover broad support for pro-PLO candidates. Nine years of occupation, social change, and PLO political mobilization had pulled popular opinion away from Jordan.[39] In years to come Israel, the United States, and Jordan would sporadically seek to replace the PLO with alternative local elites, but the organization remained hegemonic until the rise of Hamas in the late 1980s.[40] Cumulatively, the 1974 Arab recognition and the 1976 municipal elections signaled the PLO's monopolization of Palestinian representation, laying the groundwork for a powerful diplomatic appeal for international recognition.

Gaining International Credibility:
Gradual PLO Support for a Small State

Given international sympathies for Israel and the UN 1947 partition plan, some PLO leaders understood that international support for their cause depended on their willingness to drop their claim to both Israel proper and the newly occupied lands. Before the 1967 war, however, Palestinian politicians had been unwilling to cede the land taken by Israel during 1947–49, calling instead for Israel's complete dismantling.[41] When Israel gained control over still more Palestinian land during the 1967 war, however, Palestinian discourse changed, and after 1973, Fatah and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) floated the notion of a West Bank and Gaza "mini-state." The scheme was contested by other PLO factions and some Arab states, however, who saw it as an unacceptable concession.[42]

Fatah continued to moderate its stance, however, beginning with the hazy notion of a "fighting national authority" on any part of Palestine evacuated by Israeli troops, and then moving in 1976 toward a West Bank mini-state as an "interim phase." In 1978, Fatah went even further, saying it would make peace with Israel if granted a West Bank state.[43] Fatah wanted Israel to first recognize Palestinian political rights and withdraw its troops, however, and this Israel would not consider. Both sides were driven by internal debates that made compromise difficult: Israelis willing to cede land were blocked by nationalists seeking permanent

control over the West Bank, while the PLO was similarly split between pragmatists and maximalists. Fatah was the PLO's dominant faction, but it could not compel the loyalty of smaller Palestinian groups.[44]

In the 1970s, the PLO created a large bureaucracy and semi-state apparatus in Lebanon, which helped it develop broader international links.[45] The movement had thousands of paid functionaries and militia as well as quasi-state services such as health and education, even enjoying empirical sovereignty of sorts over some parts of Beirut and south Lebanon. Although the organization could not claim juridical sovereignty over a well-defined piece of territory, it had enough territory to encourage the growth of even more bureaucratic functions. By the time Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, sympathetic observers often referred to the PLO as a "state in waiting." All that it required was physical access to the West Bank and Gaza, coupled with international recognition of its sovereignty. Although the 1982 war removed the PLO's territorial base from Lebanon, its bureaucracy survived, albeit in reduced form.

The PLO's Global Alliances

The PLO's growing willingness to accept a small West Bank and Gaza state was partly motivated by its growing international connections. During the 1950s and early 1960s, Israel had enjoyed strong ties to Western countries, socialist states, and the decolonizing world. That began to change with the 1956 Arab-Israeli war, however, during which Israel joined with the former colonial powers against Egypt. The 1967 occupation of more Palestinian land definitively changed Israel's international stature as Arab states, working with Palestinian representatives, argued that Israel was a colonial-settler regime akin to South Africa, Rhodesia, and Mozambique. Following Egypt's break with the Soviets in 1972, the Kremlin drew closer to the PLO, seeking an alternative source of Middle Eastern influence.[46] In 1978, the Soviets recognized the PLO as Palestine's sole legitimate representative, advocating a broad Geneva peace conference with the PLO, Soviets, Israelis, and Western powers.

Changes in the UN's composition also enhanced the PLO's diplomatic fortunes. When the UN voted for Palestinian partition in 1947, the body had some fifty members, with pro-Israel views predominating. By the late 1960s, however, the number of members had tripled, and once the PLO and Arab states made inroads with socialist and formerly colonial states, their support in the General Assembly grew, spurred on by the global Southern protest movement, which took on the Palestinian cause

as its own.[47] The PLO, along with Arab support, had successfully framed its struggle as part of the South's broad struggle for global justice.

UNRWA and Palestinian Bureaucratic Embeddedness

Palestinians were also increasingly integrated into the international scene through the specialized UN agency created to manage Palestinian refugees. Although the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) was first created by Western powers to contain Palestinian frustration, it eventually metamorphosed into a far-flung international interest group with strong sympathy for the Palestinian cause.[48]

After the 1947–49 war, UNRWA registered some 914,000 Palestinians as refugees, over half of whom resided in refugee camps. There were 1.3 million registered refugees in 1965, and over 2.25 million in 1988, 65 percent of whom still lived in camps.[49] UNRWA registration cards were cherished documents as they proved their owner's entitlement to repatriation or compensation. Over time, the UN refugee agency developed substantial administrative muscle to support its network of camps, educational institutions, and health facilities, with a 1987 budget of $78 million and a workforce of over 18,000. UNRWA had developed a strong and international bureaucratic presence.

Although the UN agency could not prevent the camps' militarization or protect their residents from attack, it did provide Palestinians with a global and internationally legitimized bureaucratic niche linking Palestinians to the UN, international media, and transnational agencies. It was the PLO's guerrilla operations and diplomatic efforts, however, that transformed that niche into an object of substance. UNRWA and PLO efforts were mutually reinforcing, promoting the Palestinians' international profile and linking them to flows of information, resources, and legitimacy. UNRWA camps could not be attacked without officials taking note and reporting on events; camp residents could not be killed without officials registering and protesting their deaths; and UNRWA staffers often raised Palestinian concerns before UN bodies and commissions, as well the global media.

The PLO's Diplomatic Achievements

In 1974, Arafat told the UN General Assembly he was willing to negotiate with Israel, and in response, it recognized Palestinians as "a principal party in the establishment of a just and durable peace," instructing

the UN Secretary General to "establish contacts with the Palestinian Liberation Organization on all matters concerning the question of Palestine."[50] General Assembly resolution 3236 strengthened the PLO's monopoly over international representation despite opposition by Israel and its closest Western allies. Throughout the 1970s, the PLO sent numerous diplomatic missions abroad, gaining recognition from 130 states, UN observer status, and a state-like identity in international fora. In 1980, the PLO even gained a measure of Western European support, with the European Community recognizing Palestinian rights to self-determination. Repeated contacts between the PLO and European leaders from Austria, Spain, Italy, Greece, and elsewhere added weight to the 1980 resolution. By the decade's end, the PLO had clearly made powerful allies in important places.

These successes should have assured the PLO of international support for its sovereignty over the West Bank and Gaza, especially with the precedent for Palestinian statehood set by the 1947 UN partition plan. That the UN Security Council did not order Israel to withdraw or face punitive sanctions is best explained by the strength of Israel's own alliances. Most importantly, Israel was able to rebuff international criticisms by relying on vigorous U.S. intervention. As such, Israel's campaign for territorial expansion proved more resilient than that of Serbia, which failed to win international backing.

Israel's International Alliances:
Thwarting the PLO's Drive for Recognition

Israel's unwillingness to cede control over the West Bank and Gaza relied heavily on American promises to block international Palestinian advocacy.[51] In 1975, the U.S. administration promised Israel it would not speak to the PLO unless the organization unilaterally recognized Israel's right to exist. Although this vow was momentarily broken during Carter's presidency, it was reactivated soon after following pressure from Israel's American supporters.[52] U.S. ties with Israel, by contrast, grew exponentially during the 1970s and 1980s, transforming Israel into the largest recipient of American assistance. Funds to Israel went from 5 percent of America's total foreign aid bill in 1951–69, to 35 percent in the late 1970s, dropping to 20 percent during the 1980s.[53] Israel's share of foreign military assistance was even higher, reaching 60 percent during the mid-1970s, and then dropping to 30 to 40 percent during the 1980s. By 1991, the U.S. aid bill to Israel since 1948 had reached $77 billion in

1991 dollars. American popular opinion bolstered Israel's alliance with the superpower, outweighing public support for the Arab world by a factor of four. During the 1980s, surveys suggested that 40 to 50 percent of Americans were explicitly pro-Israeli, while the overwhelmingly majority was opposed to the PLO.[54]

Scholars offer different explanations for America's special relations with Israel.[55] One school stresses cultural and political similarities between the two countries, while another highlights Israel's strategic importance. Indeed, U.S. aid to Israel skyrocketed during the Nixon administration, when officials became convinced that Israel was an important Cold War ally.[56] A third school emphasizes pro-Israeli lobbyists in the United States, who have allegedly pushed successive administrations to support Israel at the expense of America's national interests.[57] Israel, in this view, relies on the American Jewish community's devotion to Zionism, superior organizing skills, and substantial resources. The American-Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC), for example, wielded a $15 million budget and a staff of 150 in the mid-1990s, demonstrating its ability to isolate and even drive from office politicians critical of Israel. Indeed, fully half of Democratic Party "soft money" and presidential campaign funds during the 1980s and 1990s came from Jewish contributors, and Jewish voters play an important electoral role in seven key states.[58] Although Israel is rarely the only or even the major interest of politically active American Jews, it remains substantially important.

Regardless of which explanation one adopts for the phenomenon, it is clear that Israel enjoyed extraordinary levels of support from the United States, and that this dramatically affected Palestine's international opportunities. Unlike Bosnia, which enjoyed rapid access to sovereign status following American and West European support, Palestine was blocked by Washington.

1988: The PLO's Unsuccessful Plea for Statehood

After almost a year of rebellion in the West Bank and Gaza, the PLO proclaimed Palestinian statehood on November 15, 1988, accepted Israel's right to exist, endorsed the 1947 UN partition plan, renounced terrorism, and accepted UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338. Yasser Arafat repeated the move on December 14, 1988, at the UN General Assembly, earning recognition from 104 states and support from 150 for PLO participation in negotiations with Israel. After additional wrangling, the U.S. government finally agreed to open a political dialogue with the PLO.[59]


These diplomatic achievements, however, were not coupled with serious international pressure on Israel to withdraw its forces. Western powers and the UN Security Council were at best willing to push Israel toward negotiations while applying human rights oversight to Israeli actions. The United States and its West European allies refused, however, to threaten Israel the same way they would threaten Serbia four years later. The PLO's international prominence ensured that Palestinian demands could not be ignored, but Israel's alliance with the United States prevented the PLO from winning recognition of Palestinian sovereignty where it counted, that is, in Washington, NATO headquarters, and in the UN Security Council. Unlike Bosnia, which was saved from a formal Serbian (or Federal Yugoslav) military occupation in 1992, Palestine remained firmly under Israeli control.

To be sure, Palestinian global prominence did translate into international scrutiny of Israeli behavior in the occupied lands. Newspapers, human rights groups, and international politicians all called on Israel to respect Palestinian human rights, with important effect. Israeli actions against Palestinians were intensely debated in the international media and diplomatic arenas. Still, the PLO could not leverage those discussions into effective international pressure on Israel to withdraw. The world applied the international norm of human rights, not sovereignty, to the West Bank and Gaza, with dramatic implications for Israeli repertoires of violence.

By the late 1980s, scholars recognized that Israel and Palestine had developed a hybrid relationship defying easy conceptualization. Portraying Israel as "military occupier" and Palestine as "occupied land" did not capture the nuanced nature of Israel's relations with Palestine, since the latter had become deeply embedded within the fabric of the Israeli state. Analysts describing Jewish-Palestinian relations as an instance of "international conflict," however, were also wrong, since it was unclear where the state of "Israel" ended and "Palestine" began. Scholars developed a range of terms to explain the relations, invoking different intellectual and theoretical traditions. Some, for example, preferred the sense of parity implied by the notion of a Jewish-Palestinian "inter-communal struggle."[60] Others spoke of an Israeli "Herrenvolk" democracy in which Jews ruled over Palestinians in an outright system of national domination. Israeli scholar Meron Benvinisti, for example, wrote that "the Palestinian problem has now been internalized" within Israel, and Palestinians "have become a permanent minority" within Israeli-ruled

territory.[61] This joint Jewish-Arab space had a "rigid, hierarchical social structure based on ethnicity," and Jews "hold total monopoly over governmental resources, control the economy, form the upper social stratum and determine the education and national values and objectives of the republic."[62] Israeli sociologist Baruch Kimmerling concurred, writing in the late 1980s that Jewish domination had been "routinized" in an unequal "control system" that contained an "inferior caste" of Palestinians with few economic, political, or social rights.[63] Some believed Israel's "creeping annexation" of Palestine had progressed so far as to make true separation impossible.[64] Those hoping the West Bank and Gaza might still escape Israeli control, by contrast, used terms borrowed from anti-colonial discourse, suggesting that like other colonial regimes, Israeli rule in Palestine would eventually crumble.[65] A third terminology was employed by sociologists such as Gershon Shafir, who argued the West Bank and Gaza were "settlement frontiers" for Jewish colonizers.[66]

In this book, by contrast, I use the term "ghetto" to describe Palestine's post-1967 status in order to capture the region's ambiguous, neither-in-nor-out position. "Frontier" implies externalization, but "ghetto" implies subordination and incorporation, helping us to better understand Israel's non-use of ethnic cleansing when the Palestinian uprising began. As Baruch Kimmerling and others warned in the late 1980s, "large scale expulsions" of Palestinians by Israel "might become a real option under certain conditions."[67] This prediction was plausible, however, only if Palestine's institutional setting resembled a frontier. If Palestine was a ghetto, by contrast, Israel's non-use of ethnic cleansing is easier to comprehend. Ghettos, after all, are policed, not destroyed.

The next chapter analyzes Israel's repertoire of ethnic policing in some detail. Drawing on interviews with Israeli military veterans, I probe tactics used by Israeli security forces to discipline, disperse, imprison, and monitor Palestinian ghetto rebels.


7. Policing the Ghetto

The first Palestinian revolt against Israeli rule, or Intifada, began in December 1987 with the organization of popular committees, mass demonstrations, and stone throwing (or occasional firebombing) against Israeli troops. Israel's military and border police responded with a harsh, police-style repertoire including mass incarcerations, coercive interrogations, and widespread beatings.[1] Jewish paramilitary vigilantes often joined in, criticizing the military's restraint and initiating their own assaults. Although Israeli leaders discussed the notion of using overwhelming military force to crush the uprising, the ghetto acted as a constraint, limiting Israel's options.[2] The military did not destroy large numbers of Palestinian homes, massacre, or generate waves of refugees, and while vigilantes threatened greater force, the state kept a cap on their actions, much as Serbian forces did in the Sandžak, Vojvodina, and Kosovo (before 1998).[3]


Israel's reliance on ethnic policing in Palestine rather than more despotic repertoires was a function of institutional context. The next chapter looks at Israeli tactics in Lebanon, which were more destructive than anything used in Palestine during the late 1980s; here, I juxtapose Israel's 1988 policing efforts in the West Bank and Gaza with its earlier repertoires of violence in the same area, when Palestine was not configured as

a ghetto. When Palestinian lands were constructed as frontiers, not ghettos, Israeli methods were quite different.

To take an example from the 1947–49 war, Jewish soldiers conquering the West Bank village of Ad Dawayima killed some 80 to 100 persons, including women and children, according to Israeli sources cited by historian Benny Morris, slaying children "by breaking their heads with sticks." Surviving villagers were forced into their homes, which troopers then dynamited around them. According to an Israeli trooper who claimed he was an eyewitness, one of the soldiers "boasted that he had raped a woman and then shot her," while another woman, "with a newborn baby in her arms, was employed to clean the courtyard where the soldiers ate," and was later killed, along with her child.[4] In another instance, again according to sources cited by Morris, Jewish troops killed hundreds of civilian curfew violators in the Palestinian town of Lydda, and then shot dead "dozens of unarmed detainees in the mosque and church compounds in the center of town."[5] Following that, soldiers forced all Palestinian residents from the town. According to Morris, "All the Israelis who witnessed the events agreed that the [Lydda] exodus, under a hot July sun, was an extended episode of suffering for the refugees," during which hundreds died and many were "stripped of their possessions" by Jewish troopers.[6] Elsewhere, Israeli forces displaced Palestinians by "advancing while shooting" into villages and urban neighborhoods, "shelling" and "firing in all directions" in residential areas.[7] Because these areas were not configured as ghettos within Israel when hostilities began, Israeli forces were free to engage in ethnic cleansing, much like their Serbian counterparts did in Bosnia decades later.

During the 1950s, Israeli forces adopted a shoot-to-kill policy along its borders with the West Bank and Gaza to stop Palestinian infiltration. Although some of the slain infiltrators were guerrillas, others were refugees seeking to return home.[8] In the country's southern border regions, according to a senior Israeli officer, every "stranger" caught within eight kilometers on either side of the boundary was to be shot on sight; along Israel's eastern border with the West Bank, soldiers were ordered to shoot anyone without a special pass.[9] Israel's reprisal policy against West Bank villages in the 1950s and 1960s is also of interest. The policy was adopted as a response to Palestinian guerrilla attacks, and by striking heavily at both Arab combatants and civilians, Israel hoped to persuade the guerrillas to accept their 1947–49 loss. The reprisals were at times ferocious, far outstripping anything contemplated by Israel when the West Bank was configured years later as a ghetto.


In 1953, for example, following a deadly Palestinian raid in central Israel, the Israeli Central Command ordered its commandos to "attack and temporarily … occupy" the West Bank village of Qibya (which had little connection to the prior Palestinian attack) and two other locations, and to "carry out destruction and maximum killing, in order to drive out the inhabitants of the village from their homes."[10] In Qibya, soldiers blew up forty-five buildings and killed sixty villagers, mostly women and children. According to a contemporary report by Time magazine, Israeli troopers in Qibya "shot every man, woman and child they could find, and then turned their fire on the cattle. After that, they dynamited forty-two houses, a school and a mosque. The cries of the dying could be heard amidst the explosions."[11] Israeli forces "moved from house to house, blowing in doors, throwing grenades through the windows, and ‘cleaning out’ the rooms with light weapons fire. Inhabitants who tried to flee their homes were gunned down in the alleyways."[12] In 1966, Israel topped the Qibya events with a raid on the West Bank village of Samu', destroying 118 homes and killing twenty-one Jordanian soldiers.[13]

These incidents are of interest here only because of the stark contrast they pose to Israel's later repertoires of violence in the same area. When the West Bank was external, Israeli forces used despotic tactics, including ethnic cleansing. Once it was transformed into a ghetto, however, Israel's methods changed.


Israel's 1988 ethnic policing efforts sparked outrage among human rights activists and critics.[14] In response, Israel's defenders noted the multitude of regulations, norms, and orders restraining their military's resort to deadly force in the West Bank and Gaza.[15] In effect, these rules were the nuts and bolts of Palestine's institutional (ghetto) setting, which combined Jewish national domination with a heavy dose of legalism and police-style principles. The resulting repertoire of violence was one of savage restraint; harsh and painful, but limited.

Israeli repertoires of violence in Palestine were constrained through four key institutional mechanisms. First, the army circulated detailed rules of engagement governing the use of lethal force, and while these were classified, they seemed to generally comply with accepted police procedures.[16] Second, the army's bureau of Internal Affairs investigated allegations of military wrongdoing, providing a bare minimum of accountability

for Israeli field troops.[17] Third, all coercive actions were authorized by military orders and emergency regulations aimed, in theory, at preserving law and order while protecting Jew and Arab alike.[18] Finally, Israel's Supreme Court, parliament, journalists, and international human rights monitors regularly scrutinized military action. Israel's critics said these constraints were largely meaningless, arguing they were used chiefly to legitimize acts of Israeli repression. Israel was systematically beating Palestinian protestors, torturing prisoners, using lethal gunfire, imposing draconian curfews, denying freedom of movement, and imposing myriad petty harassments on oppressed Palestinians.

At first glance, these two positions seem irreconcilable. For Israel's defenders, the state was using legitimate policing methods in a restrained and relatively regulated manner, restoring law and order to an unruly environment. For its critics, Israeli forces were running amuck, disregarding legal constraints while viciously oppressing Palestinians. Both defenders and critics examined the same Israeli practices, but emerged with vastly different interpretations.

Upon closer examination, however, it becomes clear that Israel's methods included both restraint and brutality. As Israel's defenders tacitly noted, the security forces' suppression of the Palestinian Intifada was "restrained" in that it did not include ethnic cleansing or wholesale destruction, methods used years earlier when Palestine was differently configured. Yet Israel's methods were also "savage," as any casual observer could discern in the field. The following account illustrates this dual policy of savage restraint. According to witnesses interviewed by al-Haq, a respected Palestinian human rights group, Israeli troops in early 1988 grabbed a seventeen-year-old Palestinian whom they suspected of throwing stones, and began

dragging the young man along on his back, kicking him over his entire body, stamping on his abdomen and genitals, punching him with their fists, and pounding him with wooden truncheons. The boy's head, face and neck were entirely covered with blood, and his nose was obviously broken. He had deep, bleeding gashes on his forearms. The Israeli soldiers pulled him upward and as the boy began to stand, one soldier kicked him twice in the genitals. As the boy doubled over in pain, another soldier kicked him under the chin and the boy fell backward. As he sat on the ground, three soldiers delivered several punches to his face and neck.… One Israeli soldier held the boy's arm outward and struck it repeatedly with a wooden truncheon. They then handcuffed him to the door, and one soldier took the boy's head in his two hands and bashed his head as hard as he could repeatedly against the door … [which was] covered with the boy's blood.[19]


This mixture of restraint (the soldiers did not kill the boy) and savagery (the soldiers tortured the boy) is understandable when we realize that ethnic policing methods were produced by the ghetto's regulatory mechanisms. Israel's concern for the appearance of law and order, its Internal Affairs investigations, its legal framework, and the presence of external monitors were all components of the West Bank and Gaza's ghetto-like setting. Each rule, norm, and regulatory device imposed limits beyond which Israeli violence could not go, but simultaneously generated incentives for new forms of "appropriate" violence. The cumulative result was Israel's 1988 policy of ethnic policing, as I illustrate below. As noted in the Preface, my analysis is based on some one hundred interviews with Palestinians for two book-length Human Rights Watch reports, as well as forty-five interviews with Israeli veterans. Some of these informants are quoted in the text below. [20]


In ghetto-like environments, legally constituted state authorities can plausibly claim full control over the enclave only if they can they break up concentrations of rebellious residents into smaller and more manageable groups.[21] In the Palestinian ghetto, consequently, much of the initial Israeli anti-Intifada effort focused on dispersing Palestinian demonstrations and reimposing Jewish control over Palestinian public space, with special emphasis on what the army called the "Palestinian street." If the military could effectively control Palestine's main roads and thoroughfares, it believed it could control the ghetto more broadly.

Palestinian roads became hotly contested arenas when Intifada activists realized that the best way to protest Israeli rule was to limit Jewish traffic through the enclave. Palestinian activists couldn't enter Israel proper to demonstrate or attack government offices, and economic boycotts of Israeli products had little effect. Segregated in their ethno-national pocket through strict Israeli pass-and-permit systems, bureaucratic controls, and checkpoints, Palestinians could best disrupt Israeli rule by preventing Jewish vehicles from passing freely through their own areas.[22]

Palestinian barricades posed huge problems for the military because they threatened the well-being of Jewish settlers, one of Israel's most powerful political constituencies. Settlers were furious at the disruption the barricades caused to their lives and efforts to normalize Jewish rule in Palestine. The barricades also posed an acute logistical problem for the

military, since the thousands of troops scattered throughout the West Bank and Gaza relied on a steady stream of military traffic. Palestinian efforts forced army transports to move about in convoys, complicating schedules and posing serious threats to drivers. The barricades also constrained the activities of Israel's internal security service, the Shabak.[23] The clandestine agency, fluent in the fault lines of Palestinian society, had for years controlled ghetto life through a vast network of patronage, informers, administrative deprivations, and interrogation centers.[24] Until this point, its efforts had proved remarkably effective, permitting Israel to rule Palestine with only a few thousand armed men during the 1970s and 1980s. Underlying the Shabak's power was its ability to quickly locate and detain Palestinians, but the roadblocks threatened to throw the whole system into disrepair. The arrest-and-interrogation nexus, linchpin of the Israeli control system, was rapidly unraveling. "The Shabak can't do anything without the army," explained Colonel Avi, a senior military commander in Hebron during 1988.[25] "How can the Shabak go into the village and arrest someone if the village is blocked off? If you need a company or two [of soldiers] to break into the village, to arrest the rioters, how can the Shabak get into the village? How can the Shabak order people to come to interrogation? It can't. It needs the army for that." Shabak interrogators were the moving force behind the Israeli control system in Palestine, but the Intifada was making it impossible for them to do their job. The military had to find a way to break through so that the Shabak police could continue to make arrests.

The Palestinian challenge to Jewish traffic was also a symbolic threat to Israeli power. If the army wasn't able to ensure that Jewish settlers and soldiers could go where they wished, the state's claim to wield an effectively monopoly over administration and governance would be imperiled. Eventually, Palestinian claims for sovereignty might find greater support internationally, forcing Israel to withdraw. The military was therefore determined to reassert control, and as a result, many anti-Intifada activities revolved around the battle for Palestine's roads.

Veterans spoke at length about the intimate relationship between the Israeli perception of restoring "law and order" and the army's effort to dominate the roads. Colonel Yossi, a battalion commander stationed in Gaza during 1988, said his orders were to "impose order" and demonstrate military control.[26] It was essential to ensure that the main traffic arteries were open. As Colonel Yiftach, a battalion commander in Gaza, said, "What we wanted was for there to be quiet in our area. When the area is quiet the regional commander gets off my back, the chief of staff

gets off the regional commander's back, and the prime minister gets off the chief of staff's back."[27] Quiet, in turn, was defined as the absence of Palestinian road blockages.

The military devised two general road-clearing tactics. The first was a limited effort aimed at breaking up blockages and pushing rebels off major roads. The second was a broader, more punitive campaign that sought to deter stone throwers and street protestors by bringing the battle to Palestinian neighborhoods, towns, and villages. The first tactic had a "defensive" aura about it, while the second seemed more "offensive."

Colonel Yiftach was a proponent of limited road defense. "I didn't believe that it was necessary to go into each shitty alley. What does it matter to my ass? We needed to guard the main roads." As long as the demonstrators were kept away from major traffic arteries used by Jews, Yiftach felt his job was done. He therefore deployed his men largely along the main roads, refraining from entering the surrounding neighborhoods. Colonel Yiftach believed that aggressive military patrols off the main roads, in smaller Palestinian alleyways, created more trouble than they were worth. Colonel Yossi, the other Gaza-based battalion commander, preferred the more intrusive policy, explaining that his men needed to penetrate the most remote alleys and deepest refugee camp corners. Palestinians were "like children … like everyone who rebels … in adolescence … they always need to feel where the limit is, where [adult] contact is. When we pulled back to the main roads, they came to fight us on the main roads, and it was a harder struggle. It was much easier to fight with them inside [their refugee camps] than to allow demonstrators to reach main roads."[28]

Both tactics had parallels in an earlier and more despotic era. "Road defense" resembled the Israeli border patrol's ambushes against infiltrators during the 1950s, while the more "aggressive" effort followed the logic of retaliatory raids during the same era. Palestine had been since transformed from frontier to ghetto, however, and fully despotic methods were no longer appropriate. Israeli troops devised alternatives that caused suffering while reducing the number of slain Palestinians to a minimum.

"Defensive" Measures along Palestine's Main Roads

Colonel Amit's early 1988 experiences in the southern West Bank exemplify tactics of road "defense." Then a colonel in the paratroop reserves, Amit was sent in January 1988 to join Intifada-repression efforts near

Hebron.[29] One evening, Amit recalled, he was ordered to patrol the Jerusalem-Hebron thoroughfare, a major transportation artery, and stop stone throwers from approaching the road across a boulder-strewn field. Colonel Amit said his first plan was to speak to village leaders in the adjacent Palestinian village.[30] "I told them, ‘If your people leave the road alone, we'll stay out of your village.’" In the early hours of the morning, however, several dozen Palestinian protestors tried to cross toward the main road, passing through the Israeli troops. Colonel Amit resolved the road "would be the last line of defense. I wouldn't let them get to the road.… Blocking the road would be worse than anything else. If they had succeeding in blocking the main artery between Hebron and Jerusalem, then what? … This would be the last spot. If they broke us there, then the army itself and the entire system would be broken."

Having determined the urgency of his task, Colonel Amit decided to use a small-caliber rifle to defend the road.[31] At first, he said, he fired warning shots in the air, but then took aim at the protestors themselves. "So you say [to yourself], come on, stop, stop, and they keep on coming." And Colonel Amit continued to fire his rifle. In less than an hour, Amit said he killed four Palestinians and wounded seventeen, including some gravely injured by shots to the spine. Amit said he aimed at the legs, but hit the upper body when the Palestinians suddenly turned or dropped for cover. Today, Colonel Amit sees his preoccupation with defending the road as strange but says it made sense at the time.

Although Amit's experience was similar in form to the border patrol's shoot-to-kill policies in an earlier era, it differed in crucial ways. First, his goal was to defend Jewish traffic through the Palestinian enclave, rather than to secure Israel's international borders. Second, Colonel Amit used a .22 rifle to minimize casualties. Third, he allegedly tried to wound, rather than kill, the stone throwers. As in the beating case described above, Amit's actions combine a mixture of police-style restraint with cold-blooded brutality. He killed four persons and wounded seventeen, even though their crimes hardly merited the punishment. At the same time, however, he could have killed many more. Had Colonel Amit been stationed in another institutional setting—Lebanon, for example—he might have shot to kill without a moment's hesitation, given the prevalence of different norms. As he noted, "You're talking about people's rights [in the West Bank and Gaza]. But on the Jordanian or Lebanese border," soldiers shoot to kill without question. "What about those persons' rights?" Institutional setting was key, and Palestine was a ghetto, not a frontier. Colonel Amit's mixture of restraint and savagery

was produced by Palestine's ghetto setting, where non-Jews were oppressed but also partially protected.

Preemptive Punitive Action: Colonel Eytan's Nighttime Raid

The punitive style of road protection was exemplified by the 1988 experiences of Colonel Eytan, then stationed in the northern West Bank. During the first months of the uprising, Jewish traffic along the main Nablusarea axis was disrupted repeatedly by Palestinian stone throwers from Hawara and Beita, two roadside villages. Colonel Eytan, then "advisor for Intifada affairs" for the regional military command, had unsuccessfully tried to prevent further road protests.[32] Exasperated, Colonel Eytan turned to the Israeli secret service for a list of suspects and resolved to teach them a lesson by raiding the two villages, arresting the suspects, and breaking their arms and legs. He chose several infantry platoons for the task, including one led by Lieutenant Dan, a regular army platoon commander.[33] On the evening of January 19, 1988, Lieutenant Dan's platoon entered the village of Beita, declared a strict curfew, arrested twelve youths on Colonel Eytan's list, and drove them to a nearby field. Amir, then a private soldier in Lieutenant Dan's platoon, recalled that the soldiers were told (by their officers, he thought) to deliver precise blows to prisoners' kneecaps. Otherwise, Amir explained, "you could hit the bone for an hour and nothing would break."[34] In the field, Lieutenant Dan told his men to break the suspects' limbs with newly issued truncheons. Since he was under orders not to kill, Lieutenant Dan stressed that the beatings should avoid the victims' stomach and face. "There was a lot of screaming," Lieutenant Dan recalled. The next evening Dan's men did the same in the village of Hawara.

Previously, Colonel Eytan had distributed truncheons to encourage his troops to conceive of themselves as police rather than combat soldiers. The soldiers used the clubs so forcefully, however, that they kept breaking. Eventually, Colonel Eytan ordered the quartermaster to distribute iron bars instead of clubs. Colonel Eytan said that in the context of the times, his decision to break Palestinians' arms and legs was not as strange as it might appear. There was much talk among the higher echelons of the need to "smash" Palestinian demonstrations and "break" the demonstrators' wills. To the men involved, the escalation to breaking individual demonstrators' arms and legs did not seem particularly dramatic.

Colonel Eytan had been given the task of keeping his sector's roads

open and physically dispersing Palestinian demonstrators while minimizing his resort to deadly force. His soldiers were detaining hundreds of Palestinians each week, but the jails were overflowing, and the military justice system was overburdened. Under those circumstances, selective targeting of key suspects seemed rational and effective. Colonel Eytan's scheme is also of note because it was an adaptation of Israel's punitive raiding policy from the 1950s and 1960s, when the West Bank was an Israeli frontier. In those years, Israeli forces might have destroyed Hawara and Beita or killed its inhabitants, but now that Palestine had become a ghetto, that was unthinkable. Instead, Eytan's troops tried to break the Palestinians' arms and legs, avoiding murder but inflicting pain.

Amit's and Eytan's experiences suggest that Israel's preoccupation with law and order, defined as the physical dispersal of Palestinian gatherings near roads, heavily shaped the contours of Israeli violence. These officers and others employed two broad tactics—road defense and punitive raids—and both were adaptations of more deadly patterns of Israeli military violence. As we shall see below, Jewish extremists tried to push the army to use far more drastic methods, viewing any policy that left Palestinians in their homes as a failure. The law and order preoccupation, however, kept ethnic cleansing off the agenda. Law and order was incompatible with despotism, and so the army focused instead on securing Palestine's roads, using methods heavily constrained by Palestine's ghetto-like setting.


In early 1988, mass incarceration of Palestinians seemed to provide a more encompassing solution to Israel's ghetto control problems. If Palestinians were blocking the roads, why not simply put them in prison? Extensive incarceration had the dual attraction of removing protestors from circulation while also fitting nicely into a policing paradigm. What could be more police-like than putting criminals behind bars? If the military was eager to bolster its law-and-order image, incarceration seemed enormously worthwhile. Imprisonment was also a useful alternative to deadly force, helping Israeli officials project a calm, legalistic, and police-like aura. The ghetto setting, in other words, generated symbolic incentives for mass incarceration.

Before the Intifada, the number of Palestinians detained by Israel hovered at around 5,000 on any given day. That number more than doubled in the first year of the uprising, however, and by 1989, some 14,000

Palestinians were full-time prisoners, plus several hundreds held in temporary holding facilities. The army built five new prisons and recruited thousands of troops to serve as guards, creating a large new prison bureaucracy. By 1989, Israel was imprisoning some 1,000 persons out of every 100,000 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, making the region the most heavily imprisoned society in the world (among countries assembling such data).[35] By way of comparison, Israel proper had only 110 prisoners per 100,000 in 1989, the United States had 426, Northern Ireland had 120, and South Africa had 240, while the Western European average was below 100.[36] At the height of the 1950s Gulag era, the Soviet Union had 1,423 prisoners per 100,000.[37] The Palestinian experience, in other words, was closer in per capita terms to the Gulag than to apartheid South Africa.

Incarceration began with an arrest by Israeli soldiers, who were authorized to detain Palestinians on the slimmest of grounds. Sometimes, male Palestinians were arrested without being suspected of a concrete, specific offense. On other occasions, they were arrested on suspicion of throwing stones, building roadblocks, or displaying Palestinian flags. After detention, prisoners were taken to holding facilities in regional command posts scattered throughout Palestine, and these were crowded, dirty, and unpleasant. Former detainees and at least one soldier recalled that the holding pens often stank of unwashed bodies, defecation, and urine, since multiple prisoners used an open bucket in tightly enclosed spaces. The stench was often so strong that detainees felt they were suffocating.[38] Miriam, an administrative officer responsible in 1988 for tracking West Bank Palestinian detainees, acknowledged that conditions could be difficult, since "we didn't always have a suitable place to keep them [the prisoners] before bringing them to central prisons."[39] The army resorted to using metal storage containers, which in summertime became highly efficient conductors of heat. After one or two weeks in the pens, detainees were screened by investigators; some were sent to more intensive Shabak interrogation, while the rest were taken for quicker questioning sessions with police or military interrogators, sent to batch trials for conviction, or released.

During the first year of the Intifada, prison guards often abused detainees. Itai, a reservist who spent a month guarding prisoners in Gaza City, recalled that

their way of behavior, the soldiers there [in the prison], it was barbaric. You could see it in the way everyone who would go through the place would give people blows, a blow here, a blow there. The group who was supposed to take the guys to the court in Gaza were issued with truncheons. On the

way to the court, they would try their truncheons out on someone and it was … it was something really terrible.

Every night, they would bring in new people … like trash in trash carts. They would pile them up inside the trucks, throw them … on the road, lift them up in a line—they are tied, of course—and then start to make them march.… On the way, what they go through on the way … They get beaten up there, really badly beaten up. I don't even know how to describe those beatings.[40]

In interviews, other detention camp veterans related similar stories.[41]

Had Palestine's ghetto setting not prevented Israel from using more direct methods, prisons might not have assumed so central a role in Israel's coercive repertoire. As is true in today's United States, where prison plays a crucial role in the lives and imagination of poor African American males, incarceration became a central part of the Palestinian male experience. The detention camps, in turn, spawned related evils such as overcrowding, guard abuse, and inter-prisoner disputes.[42] Had the West Bank and Gaza's institutional setting not channeled Israel toward policing, prisons would not have assumed such a central role.

Military Courts and Coercive Interrogations

Palestinians arrested by the military were occasionally imprisoned without trial, but "administrative detention," as it was called, was restricted under both Israeli and international law. Military prosecutors had to prove the detention was necessary, relying often on secret intelligence supplied by the Shabak. Human rights activists protested the secret hearings, saying they violated detainees' legal rights.[43] Time and again activists challenged the authorities' use of secret evidence, making administrative detentions costly and complex affairs. Prison without trial, therefore, could not be used against most of the thousands of Palestinians arrested each month in broad military sweeps. Instead, these had to be charged, tried, and duly sentenced in military court. As a result, the army relied heavily on its military court system to generate convictions and project a lawful image.

Israeli authorities had created a network of military tribunals in army bases throughout the West Bank and Gaza, and judges were often Israeli lawyer reservists.[44] Defendants were represented by Palestinian or, occasionally, Jewish lawyers, while prosecutors were sent by the military's Judge Advocate General's office. Israeli authorities often pointed to the tribunal as a major legitimating device, arguing that its adversarial system

ensured that justice duly guided the Israeli military's relations with Palestinians. Orlee, a military prosecutor, said the courts often tried to protect prisoners' rights. The problem was that Palestinian defense lawyers were dispirited and poorly trained. "It was really absurd," she said, "they didn't even know basic rules." She clamed prisoners suffered as a result of this incompetence.[45] As thousands of Palestinians poured into the military justice system in 1988, however, the use of torture to produce confessions shot up overnight. Israel interrogated some 5,000 Palestinians each year from 1988 to 1993, and many of these were tortured.[46]

Military justice promoted the use of torture for a variety of reasons. Unlike civilian courts in Israel, military prosecutors relied heavily on confessions for conviction, since other evidence was generally unavailable. Palestinians did not volunteer information and material evidence was hard to gather, since most every trip by soldiers to the West Bank and Gaza involved some kind of confrontation. Tribunals, consequently, accepted confessions as evidence for conviction provided there was a "scintilla" of corroborating evidence. As my Human Rights Watch report noted in 1994, "The extraction of confessions under duress, and the acceptance into evidence of such confessions by the military courts, form the backbone of Israel's military justice system.… Because a defendant's signed statement is almost sufficient to convict … interrogators have strong incentives to obtain such a statement."[47] Israeli interrogators applied tremendous pressure on Palestinians to incriminate themselves and others, as there was no other way to satisfy the requirement for a legal trial.

I managed to interview one military policeman who had participated in interrogations during 1988. Omri, a sergeant who spent thirty days of reserve duty in the al-Fara'a detention camp in 1988, recalled interrogating eight to ten Palestinians per day.[48] He said that hundreds of prisoners were brought to al-Fara'a each day by infantry units patrolling the northern West Bank, most of whom were young males suspected of minor offenses. The prisoners were handcuffed, blindfolded, and ordered to wait their turn, immobile, in the central courtyard, while Omri and his colleagues worked with six other police interrogators in special rooms located nearby. Their goal, he recalled, was to get information and a signed confession so that the prisoner's file could be sent on to prosecutors. As Orlee explained, military prosecutors wanted open-andshut cases. She spoke highly of an interrogator known as "Maradona," who had a reputation among Palestinians for abuse. "He would really

do very nice files," she recalled, and would "very much tie up loose ends, not like lots of other [interrogators]." Prosecutorial desire for more detailed confessions, however, translated into more coercive interrogations.

When prisoners wouldn't cooperate, Omri recalled, the policeman made a signal and Omri began to hit suspects with "a club, foot, anything … beatings like I can't describe. Just beating and beating.… We hit them everywhere—head, face, mouth, arms, balls." The only guidance Omri received was to "try and not kill them." Many of the detainees, he said, had "broken arms, legs, teeth." "If the beating didn't help anymore, because he [the prisoner] was about to die," Omri said, and the detainees still did not supply the desired answers, the interrogators poured an astringent liquid on the open wounds. Then, he recalled, "they just screamed and screamed. Screams like I've never heard before." Omri provided uniquely vivid perpetrator testimony, but his claims were supported by other veterans such as Itai, the Gaza City prison guard. When Israeli interrogators were at work Gaza prison, Itai recalled, there were "screams which until today, when I sleep at night, I hear them inside my ears all the time … horrible screams."[49]

Torture is common to most violent conflicts, and there is nothing particularly special about its application in Palestine. It assumed a particularly important role in Israel's ethnic policing repertoire, however, because of constraints imposed by Palestine's ghetto-like conditions. Since soldiers could not kill or deport large numbers of Palestinians, they turned to incarceration. Imprisonment, however, had to be conducted so that it appeared to respect norms of due process. Yet since Palestinian witnesses would not cooperate with military investigations, prosecutors felt obliged to rely on confessions to convict. And because prisoners would not confess voluntarily, interrogators extracted confessions through torture. Ghetto mechanisms of legal oversight and police-style restraint, in other words, created incentives for violence during incarceration and interrogation.

Israel's Beating Policy

Not all Palestinian protestors could be sent to prison, since legal complications made arrest, imprisonment, and conviction a costly investment. As Colonel Eytan explained, "There just wasn't enough room in the jail for all the people we arrested." Or as Efraim, an Israeli soldier who served in the Gaza Strip, noted, soldiers were often reluctant to arrest stone throwers because of the time and bother involved. Suspects

had to be dragged back through Palestinian neighborhoods, and forms had to filled out.[50] Yet the rules also prevented soldiers from simply shooting protestors down, forcing Israeli officers to constantly search for nonlethal techniques. As Colonel Avi recalled, most debates during the first months of the uprising were about how to keep the number of Arab deaths down while still making them suffer. Israel prime minister Yitzhak Rabin had this position in September 1988, noting that Israel's "purpose is to increase the number of [wounded] among those who take part in violent activities but not to kill them.… I am not worried by the increased number of people who got wounded, as long as they were wounded as a result of being involved actively by instigating, organizing and taking part in violent activities."[51]

Lethal force was not prohibited entirely, of course, as Shimon, a former infantry private, observed. He said officers wanted to reduce the number of causualties, but authorized deadly force against Palestinians who covered their faces. These, he said, were considered terrorists, with all that entailed.[52] Yet the cumulative result was clear. Despite Israel's overwhelming firepower, the large number of demonstrators, and constant confrontations, soldiers killed only 204 Palestinians between December 9, 1987, and November 15, 1988, the most intense phase of the uprising. At the same time, however, Israeli troops injured over 20,000 Palestinians.[53]

How did the institutional setting reduce lethal force in practice? At the most general level, military commanders realized that high casualty rates might cause political complications for Israel internationally. Given Palestine's status as an encapsulated enclave, Israel's responsibilities were clear and unambiguous. With human rights scrutiny playing a key role in Israel's international relations, large numbers of Palestinian deaths would be a political liability. A second reason was linked to Israel's ethnic policing infrastructure. As noted above, military actions were controlled and monitored by the army's bureau for Internal Affairs. For reasons of manpower and economy, the bureau decided to limit investigations to cases of lethal force. As Lieutenant Arik, an Internal Affairs officer explained, "There were so many incidents every day, we had no way of investigating everything. We needed to devise a way of reducing the caseload. So we decided to investigate only when there was a death. We investigated the other stuff, beatings and harassment, far less frequently. We just didn't have the manpower."[54] Consequently, Internal Affairs conducted 170 investigations of army-caused deaths between December 9, 1987, and the end of September 1988, a figure roughly equal to the total number

of Palestinians slain by the military.[55] Most veterans were cognizant of this limitation, realizing that as long as they did not kill, their actions were unlikely to be investigated. Internal Affairs inquiries did not lead to severe punishments, but they did complicate soldiers' lives. Overall, the focus on lethal force limited the number of slain Palestinians while generating a search for nonlethal methods. Mass incarceration was complex and unwieldy, so soldiers sought alternatives that were quick and efficient. Soon, this led to the army's policy of beatings.[56]

It seems likely that the notion of physically punishing large numbers of Palestinian demonstrators emerged from the experience of rank-and-file soldiers in the first weeks of the uprising. Frustrated at regulations barring them from shooting demonstrators dead outright, soldiers began using their fists and rifles to hit any Palestinian they could catch. The notion of inflicting maximum pain while avoiding Internal Affairs scrutiny traveled quickly up the hierarchy, however, for it seemed to provide just the solution commanders were looking for. As Colonel Avi noted, the soldiers' assault rifles had a warlike aura, while wooden clubs created a law-and-order image. "When you're with a club," he said. "it's like the police. Police all over the world have clubs; it's like a legitimation of sorts."[57]

On January 19, 1988, the Israeli defense minister warned Palestinians that soldiers would adopt a policy of "force, might and beatings" if they continued to rebel.[58] Although he later qualified the statement, saying he never intended to authorize indiscriminate violence, field troops understood otherwise. Colonel Avi showed me a copy of an order from the army's Central Command dated January 1988, instructing commanders "to beat rioters" (lahakot mitpar'im). As Colonel Yiftach recalled, the orders were "to hit in order to punish. Whoever throws a stone, if you catch him, he can't throw stones anymore."[59] And as Efraim recalled of his time in Gaza. "We used to just beat anyone we wanted.… if anyone ran from us … we grabbed him and beat him."[60] Often, the beating ended right there, but in other cases, it continued, as soldiers crowded around to vent their frustrations on whomever they had caught.

There was considerable ambiguity in the orders, which did not precisely define a beating's modalities. Some officers thought the blows should stop as soon as prisoners were handcuffed, while others viewed the violence as an ongoing process. Many soldiers pulled Palestinians into side streets and savagely beat them there. "You are supposed to hit the prisoner where and when you catch him," one officer explained, but if a crowd gathered to watch, "you have to take him aside" and hit him

there.[61] The violence quickly spiraled out of control. As two Israeli military correspondents wrote,

There were countless instances in which young Arabs were dragged behind walls or deserted buildings and systematically beaten all but senseless.… No sooner had the order gone out than word of excesses, unjustified beatings, even sheer sadism echoed back from the field … before long reports flowed in of soldiers thrashing people in their own homes just for the hell of it. Proof that whole families fell victim to the truncheons was readily observed in the hospitals, where women, children and the elderly were brought in for treatment.[62]

Veterans described how they implemented the beating policy. At first they tried to hit only young males, whom they assumed to be the main source of resistance, but the violence rapidly escalated. The problem, soldiers said, was that they never knew for sure who had thrown stones at them. Chasing suspects down an alleyway, soldiers often happened across a group of Palestinians; not knowing for sure whether these were the guilty ones, they grabbed them and physically punished them anyway. To many soldiers, it seemed that every Palestinian supported the uprising; thus, every Palestinian became a target. A beating's intensity was often shaped by soldiers' levels of stress; the more difficult their day, the more brutal a beating they gave. Intensity also varied by unit when individual groups tried to cultivate a tough image by using more violence than others. Status struggles were also important, as some of the worst violence was done by low-status support troops eager to show front-line colleagues that they too could wield violence.


In 1988, tensions between formal rules and actual practices were a recurring theme in the Israeli military, much as they would be in any large bureaucratic organization. Generally speaking, formal rules are often generated for reasons other than pure efficiency, and workers often chafe at restrictive and seemingly illogical regulations. More often than not, workers decouple practices from regulations, generating tacit working norms that grant them greater flexibility and autonomy.[63] To avoid triggering management offensives against hidden practices, workers hide their practices and respect certain key limits.

When responding to critics, Israel's representatives often highlighted the army's formal regulations, dwelling on "managerial" rules rather than actual practices. For example, they noted that army violence was

governed by reasonable, police-style regulations, compliance with which was enforced by legal experts and Internal Affairs investigators. As one legal officer argued, the army's "Rules of Engagement in Judea, Samaria [West Bank] and Gaza are in accordance with Israeli criminal law, with the rulings of the Supreme Court, and have been approved by the IDF Advocate General and the Attorney General's Office."[64] Closer examination undermines the image of a disciplined organization, as soldiers routinely violated military regulations, treating Palestinians as they pleased. Low-level troopers fashioned their own tacit practices, and these were quite distinct from formal blueprints. As one trooper noted in a newspaper interview,

Every battalion works out its own set of norms.… Every battalion commander is the sovereign of the area [under his command]. Every company commander is the mukhtar [traditional headman] of a village or two, and every soldier manning a roadblock is a little god. He decides what to do: who will be allowed through and who won't be. Try to understand that every person there has considerable leeway when it comes to making decisions.

The best description I can find for what's going on there is total chaos.

… There are simply no [rules] governing the implementation of orders, behavioral norms, and methods of punishment.[65]

His chaotic vision dovetails with the stories I heard in my own interviews with Israeli veterans. Individual units rotated frequently, and each new batch of troopers brought their own particular forms of repression. Some were relaxed disciplinarians, while others would deal harshly with perceived infractions. This inconsistency was reproduced up and down the hierarchy. Each unit would be responsible for staffing dozens of patrols and checkpoints, each of which was commanded by someone else. Viewed from up close, it seemed that individual soldiers, noncommissioned officers, and junior commanders enjoyed enormous autonomy to deal as they pleased with Palestinians. Israeli ethnic policing was not only harsh, but was also inconsistent.

The image of chaos is also deceptive, however, just as it would be were one so immersed in the "trees" of the informal shop-floor regime that one missed the "forest" of the capitalist economy. Informal practices and hidden innovations, after all, do not necessarily imply lack of structure. Workers can be autonomous at one level while remaining within broad managerial parameters at another. This was clearly the case for the Israeli military, where soldiers developed hidden practices but also remained within certain boundaries. Troopers devised unique tortures for Palestinians they encountered, but dared not go too far lest they trigger an inquiry.

These boundaries were so deeply ingrained as to be virtually invisible, however, and most media attention was focused on the leeway soldiers enjoyed within ghetto-imposed boundaries.


Israeli violence against Palestinians was located at the center of a series of concentric circles. The inner circle was staffed by "shop-floor workers," or line soldiers, while the outer ring was populated by legal norms and regulations, including the Geneva Conventions, and social actors, such as jurists, journalists, human rights activists, and diplomats. Intermediary rings were occupied by senior officers, Internal Affairs investigators, and the Judge Advocate General's office. These mid-range circles functioned as transmission belts, conveying the norms and regulations of the ghetto setting to the rank and file. This middle circle regulated Israeli military behavior, imposing broad parameters within which troopers were free to devise new methods of violence, abuse, and repression. Some of those boundaries, such as the ban on mass killings or deportations, were so deeply entrenched that they rarely occasioned notice. Others, such as those regulating the precise modalities of physical beatings, were more hotly debated.[66]

Internal Affairs investigators were rarely involved in violent events themselves, appearing only after the fact to question the soldiers involved and, on very rare occasions, Palestinian witnesses.[67] As a result, disciplinary activities were often carried out by field officers who fended off Internal Affairs while meting out on-the-spot punishments such as suspension of privileges. They did so because they knew that if they failed to remain within the broad guidelines of ethnic policing, word would seep out to Internal Affairs. Both soldiers and field officers detested Internal Affairs investigators, whom they scorned but also feared.

Soldiers received detailed instructions and rules of engagement in written booklets and oral briefings, the general thrust of which was to place violence within a policing framework. Soldiers raged at the rules, which complicated their lives. Regulations governing the use of lethal force against "fleeing suspects," for example, ordered them to first cry out, "Stop or I will shoot!" Then they were to fire warning shots in the air, and only after that, to aim gunfire at the fleeing suspect's legs. When carried out faithfully, this was a cumbersome and complex process that soldiers bitterly resented. Many ignored the three-part procedure altogether, while others performed all three stages simultaneously. Lieutenant

Aviad, a former infantry lieutenant, explained that "what I and others would do is order one soldier to yell, ‘stop or I'll shoot!’ I would order a second soldier to fire in the air, if we even bothered with that. Then I would take the best shot in the patrol and tell him to shoot toward the suspect … all three would do what they were supposed to do at the same time. That way no one could say that he didn't hear a warning shout or didn't see a shot fired into the air."[68] Other rules were equally detested. Soldiers were allowed to shoot Palestinians only if they felt their lives were in danger, but how was one to define a "life-threatening" situation? For some it only meant when directly attacked by gunfire; for others, it meant when anyone appeared ready to throw something at them. Lieutenant Aviad claimed that Israeli soldiers could, in fact, kill Palestinians when they wanted to in the Palestinian territories. What was required, he said, was to conduct the shooting in such a way that it could somehow be excused under existing open fire regulations. As long as the shooter could manufacture a legal excuse, investigators would not question the incident too closely.[69]

The rules reduced levels of lethal force, but also pushed troops to design practices of violence that would evade legal censure. Soldiers formed small cliques that would go out on patrol together, devising punitive methods that could be easily denied in an inquiry. Shimon, for example, suspected that some of his colleagues had engaged in unauthorized violence while on patrol, and then hidden the details from others.[70] Efraim, the Gaza trooper, claimed that as many as half of his company participated in "cliques" of this sort. "There was an unwritten set of regulations that had no connection to the official procedures." he said, "Tight little social groups did stuff that no one else would know about. The sergeants preferred these [groups] because they were more effective." Efraim recalled one exercise that his clique devised to "teach the Arabs a lesson" in a refugee camp in southern Gaza. When confronting demonstrators, he said, the orders were to put special tubes on their rifles that allowed them to fire rubber bullets. When the officers weren't looking, however, he and his friends loaded their rifles with live ammunition. "The officers never realized," Efraim claimed.[71]

Senior officers were aware of the informal regime. Field commanders said their ability to monitor all of their far-flung men was limited. Even Colonel Avi, who claimed to have been well-informed, acknowledged that "there could be tens of incidents I don't know about."[72] Other officers recalled keeping an eye on specific soldiers whom they felt were liable to wreak havoc when unobserved. Officers often blamed other units

for the worst violence. Reserve paratroop colonel Yiftach, for example, said regular-army soldiers were most abusive. In the Golani infantry brigade, the "atmosphere was to smash … to really punish them [Palestinians]," even among the officers.[73]

Field troops constantly tested the limits of army and state regulators, trying to see how far they could go without attracting censure. This was particularly true for beating incidents, which were the most common form of Israeli repression during 1988. The key problem in beating, according to senior informants, was that the rules were open to interpretation and manipulation. Soldiers were instructed to cease using force once a suspect's arms and legs were tied, but it was the troopers who decided when the Palestinian was properly subdued.[74] As a result, many soldiers delayed putting the handcuffs on, beating detainees all the while; others simply ignored the rule and hit prisoners whenever they wanted. The only absolute rule was that prisoners should remain alive.

When soldiers went too far and killed someone in a blatantly illegal way, Internal Affairs stepped in, signaling that the line had been crossed. As a result, there were a few isolated cases through which the wider Israeli public became aware of the beating policy. In 1989, for example, four soldiers stationed in the Gaza Strip were court-martialed for killing a middleaged Palestinian, El-Shami Hani Ben Dib, on August 2, 1988. The four soldiers had chased a stone thrower into Ben Dib's home but didn't catch the culprit. Instead, they hit Ben Dib with rifle butts and clubs, kicked him, and then jumped on his prostrate body from a nearby bed. They then took Ben Dib to base, where he slowly died of internal bleeding. Ben Dib, blindfolded and bound, lay on the base floor while passing soldiers cursed him, hit him, and ignored pleas for help. In June 1989, the four soldiers were convicted of brutality rather than manslaughter. So many men had hit Ben Dib, the judges said, it was impossible to determine responsibility for the killing.[75] The trial publicly exposed what many troopers already knew. An informal regime of hidden practices reigned in the ghetto in which soldiers, both in front-line combat units and in the rear echelons, had wide latitude. From a sociological perspective, it is important to note how the Ben Dib event reinforced the boundaries of acceptable ethnic policing: torture was permissible, blatant murder was not. Thus of the 204 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces from December 9, 1987, to November 24, 1988, only three died of beating injuries.[76]

This chapter began with a description of early Israeli violence in Palestine, when the area was not yet configured as a ghetto. Consequently, Israel's

methods ranged from ethnic cleansing to destructive raids. These early tactics stand in stark contrast to Israel's policing repertoire in the same region years later, in 1988. Although painful and abusive, ethnic policing left Palestinians alive and in place. As long as Israel's juridical and empirical sovereignty over the West Bank and Gaza remained secure, it would use ethnic policing, despite support for more drastic measures among the Jewish public and some political elites.

In 1988, there was a mutually reinforcing relationship between ghettos rules, on the one hand, and ethnic policing tactics on the other. Each regulation seeking to limit Israeli violence spawned a new form of less intense, but nonetheless painful, violence. Restrictions on ethnic cleansing and mass killings led to imprisonment, torture, and punitive beatings, while Internal Affairs investigations helped shape a hidden regime of unofficial violent practices. The violence penetrated all areas of Palestinian life, but its intensity was limited. The Palestinian ghetto population experienced pervasive pain and suffering, but also remained, alive and in place, on their land. Their ghetto-like institutional setting guaranteed their continued survival and ongoing ability to present a demographic challenge to the Jewish national program.


8. Alternatives to Policing

Ethnic policing was the dominant Israeli repertoire in Palestine, but other, more despotic, alternatives existed as well. One of these was grounded in semi-private Jewish paramilitaries in the West Bank, some of which were strongly supportive of the notion of "transferring" Palestine's non-Jewish population. Yet as was true in the Serbian case, the Israeli state refused to tolerate ethnic cleansing by paramilitary freelancers in territories under its official control. Israeli officials did, however, permit the sort of ethnic harassment witnessed in Sandžak and Vojvodina. The situation was different in Lebanon. In Lebanon, configured institutionally as a frontier vis-à-vis Israel from 1968 until the year 2000, Israeli forces were unconstrained by Palestine's ghetto regulations and therefore developed a more despotic repertoire of violence.

This chapter thus illustrates the importance of institutional context in two ways. First, it argues that Palestine's ghetto-like environment created incentives for the Israeli state to cap levels of Jewish paramilitary violence in the West Bank and Gaza, despite the willingness of some Jewish nationalists to go further. There were Jewish ideologies, individuals, and organizations that might have instigated more despotic violence, but these were nipped in the bud by Palestine's institutional environment. The more firmly Palestine was locked within Israel's legal, military, and bureaucratic embrace, the more Israel felt constrained to use ethnic policing against its rebellious population.

Second, this chapter examines Israeli activities in an entirely different

geographic and institutional arena. Although Israel's violence in Lebanon did not reach Bosnian proportions, there were similarities. Israeli forces did resort to indiscriminate shelling of densely populated urban areas, and Israel's intelligence services did work with unsavory local paramilitaries, much as the clandestine Serbian Military Line did in Bosnia during 1992–93. In 1982, some Israeli leaders hoped that deadly acts of violence by those irregular allies would trigger the mass flight of Palestinians from Lebanon. Israel certainly did not attempt genocide in Lebanon, however, and it did not comprehensively empty that country of its civilian population. I use the Lebanon case here as an illustration of the importance of institutional context, not as a precise Bosnian parallel.


Much of Bosnia's ethnic cleansing, it will be recalled, was led by crisis committees, partially autonomous networks of local authorities and police. These had their parallel in Palestine in the form of Jewish settlers' regional councils and militias, which combined nationalist ideology with some military strength. The councils and militias initiated vigilante violence against Palestinians in the 1980s, but did not develop further. Although Israel permitted and even encouraged Jewish ethnic harassment, it blocked more extreme measures, just as Serbia had done within its core.

Israel created six regional councils in 1979 to serve the needs of West Bank and Gaza settlers, of which there were 250,000 (including in East Jerusalem) in 1988. The councils assumed an increasing number of responsibilities during the 1980s, levying taxes from Jews, legislating bylaws, and resolving minor inter-settler disputes. More importantly, perhaps, the councils took control of zoning procedures, working with the state to extend national control over Palestinian land. By the mid-1980s, veteran Israeli analyst Meron Benvinisti notes, "the councils, with the active assistance of the military government and the Israeli government," had "assumed quasi-governmental status."[1] In 1984, settlers created an umbrella organization known as Moetzet Yesha (the Council of Jewish Settlements in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza). Moetzet Yesha became a powerful political lobby, working directly with legislators to protect and promote settler interests. Although Moetzet Yesha covered the geographic area where Palestinians lived, it made no attempt to incorporate Palestinians, focusing exclusively on its Jewish constituency. In this it differed

from the Israeli state and military, both of which partially incorporated Palestinians as subordinate subjects. Had the West Bank and Gaza slipped from official Israeli rule, Palestinians would have confronted Moetzet Yesha without the protective shield of ghetto-style incorporation.

What were Moetzet Yesha's intentions vis-à-vis Palestinians? Many settlers were not religiously motivated, but their political bodies were often staffed by deeply committed members of Gush Emunim.[2] The Gush, it will be recalled, was a Jewish social movement dedicated to colonizing Greater Israel. Although its roster of full-time activists was limited, it could rapidly mobilize hundreds of thousands of supporters. More importantly, the movement enjoyed substantial economic, military, and political support from allies in the Israeli government, military, and civil service.[3] According to Lustick, some 30 to 35 percent of Israeli Jews sympathized with Gush ideology in the late 1980s, including its support for the "subjugation and expulsion" of Palestinians.[4] The Gush was a radicalizing force, spreading support for anti-Palestinian measures. Broadly speaking, Gush beliefs were that Jews were the chosen people, Palestinians had no national rights, the West Bank was promised to Jews by God, and that the Messiah would come only when Jews had settled Greater Israel and defeated Palestinian political challenges.[5] Infused with this thinking and divorced from administrative responsibilities for Palestinians, Moetzet Yesha was a potentially lethal force when it came to the West Bank's Arab population.

During the 1980s, a vocal minority of Gush activists supported ethnic cleansing. As noted previously, cabinet minister Yosef Shapira polled settler rabbinical leaders in 1987 and found that 62 percent favored using "any means at our disposal" to push "gentiles" from the Land of Israel. A few months later, government officials, right-wing intellectuals, Moetzet Yesha leaders, and Gush activists conducted a detailed discussion of Palestinian "population transfer."[6] As one Gush intellectual argued in 1987, "Transfer is not a dirty word," adding that "evacuation of the Land [of Israel] from its Arab residents is … a Zionist task of utmost importance." There was "no middle road," he warned.[7] Although there was no pro-transfer consensus within the Gush, its vision was broadly shaped by its view of Palestinians as "Amalekites," the Jews' biblical enemies.[8] Biblical passages speak of killing Amalekites and "blotting out" their memory, and some radical Gush activists drew on these statements to justify anti-Palestinian extremism. Others sympathized with the notion of Arab transfer but preferred to wait until a major war to carry out

the plan. In the meantime, they advocated granting Palestinians the biblical status of "guests" and using economic and administrative pressures to encourage their flight.

Settler Paramilitaries

Gush ideology grew increasingly important when Moetzet Yesha began to develop its own militia. The government had granted Jewish colonies the status of border settlements, authorizing them to receive military weapons for purposes of self-defense. The state also hired security coordinators to recruit and lead settler patrols and to work with nearby military units. During the 1980s, these militias extended their operations from settlement perimeters to fields, access roads, and Palestinian villages. Eventually, the forces were incorporated into the Israeli army as "territorial defense auxiliaries."[9] The southern West Bank Judea Company, for example, was given military-issue personnel carriers, weapons, and communications equipment. Its peacetime brief was to patrol locally, but in practice, this meant policing nearby Palestinian villages, earning the Judea Company a reputation for brutality.[10] Mindful of settler attitudes toward Palestinians, army commanders sent the militias to Lebanon rather than the West Bank when the Intifada began. In 1990, however, the government ordered the units back into Palestine following pressure from conservative legislators.[11] Occasionally, the militias engaged in vigilantism against Palestinians, sometimes in response to Palestinian stone throwing, but other times as a "deterrent." Jewish militias attacked Palestinians 384 times between 1980 and 1984, killing 23 persons and injuring 191.[12] The attacks were necessary, advocates said, because the Israeli military was not firmly committed to controlling Palestinians.[13] On the whole, settlers supported the vigilantes and the Israeli police did little to crack down.[14] Broad support for right-wing ideology among government elites and the Jewish-Israeli public was also helpful, as was a committed core of far-right nationalist radicals.[15]

Some militia members tried to go much further. In the early 1980s, nationalists created a clandestine "Jewish underground" and tried to assassinate Palestinian political leaders. Its members included Gush activists and former military officers, and it received tacit support from mainstream politicians and active-duty military officers.[16] Although the group was broken up by Israel's security services, clandestine anti-Palestinian violence remained a real possibility. In 1987, a leading Israeli

correspondent warned that given the opportunity, settler militias might try to "cause the flight of Arabs eastward"—that is, initiate ethnic cleansing.[17]

The Intifada triggered a new wave of militia attacks in 1988–89, killing thirty-two Palestinians.[18] As one settler leaflet explained, the Intifada had prompted Jewish militias to "initiate and organize various activities in reaction to Arab terrorism."[19] Alarmed by the militias' boldness, liberal Israeli legislators warned the government that Jewish settlers were undermining military authority in Palestine.[20] Settler forces were developing a "strong desire for independent activity," they said, carving up the West Bank into separate militia jurisdictions and creating command and control capacities. In the military, it seemed that some officers, especially those in middle echelons, supported settler radicalism.[21] Overall, however, the military was made uneasy by militia freelancing. The army was sovereign in Palestine, and it was unwilling to permit excessive militia violence.[22] Ethnic policing crowded out other alternatives, frustrating the militias and their government allies.

If Western powers had forced the Israeli army to withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza, however, much as it forced Serbian troops to leave Bosnia, the region's institutional environment would have changed. It was in this spirit that a group of militia activists began discussing the State of Judea, their term for an all-Jewish West Bank mini-state.

The State of Judea: An Aborted "Republika Srpska"?

Following the PLO's 1988 declaration of statehood, activists from Kach and Moetzet Yesha increasingly feared that the government might withdraw troops from Palestine under international pressure.[23] They resolved to prepare for this eventuality by laying the foundations of a Jewish West Bank mini-state, using Moetzet Yesha's administrative framework and militias as its base. Kach took the lead, raising funds to create shadow cabinet offices, postage stamps, identification cards, and passports. They were joined by some Gush Emunim activists, although many considered the group's plan unrealistic and extreme. Researcher Ilan Lagziel suggests that the scheme "received widespread support among the [Jewish] residents of Judea and Samaria [West Bank]" and was viewed by a committed group of Nablus-area settlers as a viable political alternative.[24] On January 18, 1989, hundreds of activists convened to declare their intention of creating a State of Judea if the Israeli army withdrew from the

West Bank. Organizers promised they were "not fighting against the State of Israel and the army," and that their sole intention was to take over the West Bank if the military pulled out. "We have the means, in terms of weapons, and our people have a military background," the organizers explained.[25] They never specified what steps they might take against West Bank Palestinians, but given Gush ideology, ethnic cleansing was a possibility.

Many observers viewed the State of Judea as a radical fringe phenomenon. Instead of dismissing the scheme as politically insignificant, however, I suggest regarding it as evidence of an alternative organizational form whose growth was stunted by the surrounding institutional setting. Like the 1991 Bosnian "Serbian autonomous regions" discussed in Chapter 3, Moetzet Yesha was a radical-nationalist municipal grouping with aspirations to statehood. The State of Judea never took on Bosnian proportions, however, because of the environment in which it operated. As long as the Israeli state had both juridical and empirical sovereignty over the West Bank, Jewish "crisis committee" type organizations could not flourish.

Radical Jewish nationalists existed in the Palestinian ghetto, just as extremist Serbian groups existed in the Serbian core. Sandžak and Kosovo experienced paramilitary radicalism, while Vojvodina had a nascent Serbian crisis committee. Those areas were firmly controlled by Serbia, however, and the state refused to tolerate nationalist freelancing on its territory. Israel, similarly, had Moetzet Yesha and its associated militias. And, although the Israeli army tolerated the militias' attempt to conduct ethnic harassment, it blocked serious efforts to create a more despotic repertoire of violence. With Palestine configured as a ghetto, ethnic cleansing was not a viable option.


During the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, Lebanon was home to guerrillas whose presence triggered intense Israeli violence. Unlike the West Bank and Gaza, however, Lebanon was never encapsulated within Israel, serving instead as a frontier of sorts vis-à-vis the Jewish state. Subsequently, Lebanon was subjected to more destructive tactics than the ghetto. There was a silver lining in this cloud, however, as Israeli forces never exercised the same type of encompassing infrastructural regime in Lebanon that they wielded in Palestine. Israel's Lebanese tactics were destructive and spectacular, but sporadic and uneven.


Israel's Lebanon Repertoire

A recent example of Israeli violence, Lebanon-style, took place in mid-April 1996, when Israeli shells slammed into a UN compound near Qana village, killing 102 Lebanese civilians. The incident took place during Israel's Grapes of Wrath campaign, a fifteen-day operation involving 600 air sorties, 25,000 artillery shells, 154 slain civilians, and 400,000 displaced persons.[26] Grapes of Wrath was billed by Israel as a retaliation for attacks by the Islamist group Hezbollah, whose rockets had caused property damage in northern Israel and sent thousands fleeing southward.[27] Israel blamed the Qana deaths on the victims themselves, saying they had ignored warnings to flee the area; those who remained in the region did so "at their own risk, because we assume they're connected with Hezbollah." A radio broadcast by the Southern Lebanese Army (SLA), an Israeli militia ally, had listed forty-five villages by name, warning that "any presence in these villages will be considered a terrorist one, that is, the terrorists and all those with them will be hit."[28] Grapes of Wrath was a repeat of Israel's 1993 Operation Accountability, another punitive campaign that killed 120 civilians, displaced 300,000, and damaged over 17,000 homes.[29] In the 1990s, these dramatic displays of Israeli anger were accompanied by dozens of smaller attacks; in 1995 alone, according to UN estimates, Israel fired 37,000 artillery shells into Lebanon.[30]

As noted in the preface, Israel's Lebanon policies present an intriguing puzzle. In recent decades, Israel treated Lebanon to more intense doses of violence than Palestine, even though Hezbollah and other Lebanonbased guerrillas posed far less of a threat to Israel or Zionism than did West Bank and Gaza Palestinians. This is especially true in the early and mid-1990s, when Palestinian Intifada tactics shifted from unarmed demonstrations to more deadly bomb attacks.[31] In 1996, moreover, Palestine's Islamist Hamas group launched a series of successful suicide bombs against Jewish towns, proving itself more of an immediate military threat than Hezbollah. Still, Israeli forces did not use the same devastating methods against the West Bank and Gaza that they did in Lebanon[32]

This puzzle is comprehensible when we factor in Lebanon's and Palestine's different institutional contexts. The sovereignty norm, coupled with Israel's disinterest in annexing Lebanon, constituted it as a counterinsurgency frontier vis-à-vis Israel, an arena that Israel sought to influence but not incorporate. The lack of a clearly enforced sovereign boundary between Israel and Palestine, on the other hand, helped transform Palestine into an internal ghetto.


The Origins of Israel's Lebanon
Counterinsurgency Frontier, 1968–78

Lebanon began serving as Israel's counterinsurgency frontier in June 1968, when Palestinian organizations launched their first guerrillas against Israel from Lebanese territory, and Israel responded with a ground attack on a small Fatah base.[33] In 1969, Palestinian guerrillas and the Lebanese government signed an agreement permitting Palestinian fighters to attack Israel from a limited area of south Lebanon.[34] The Lebanese government had originally opposed Palestinian actions from its territory, but later bowed to local and pan-Arab sentiment. After Jordan's crackdown on Palestinians in 1970–71, the guerrillas made Lebanon their new center, carving out state-like structures in Beirut-area refugee camps.[35] The PLO's administrative headquarters were in Beirut, but it deployed hundreds of fighters to the south, where they enjoyed some support from local Palestinian refugees as well as pro-Palestinian Lebanese factions.[36]

Southern Lebanese were soon trapped between PLO guerrillas on the one hand and Israeli counterinsurgency forces on the other.[37] British journalist Robert Fisk writes that Israel's attitude was straightforward: "If the Lebanese villagers allowed armed Palestinians to take shelter among their homes, then they would be made to pay for it in blood. The only way to avoid Israeli attack was to eject the Palestinians from their villages," something some Lebanese were either unwilling or unable to do, although by the late 1970s, Lebanese Shi'ite militias fought pitched battles with Palestinian factions.[38] In the early 1970s, Israeli forces regularly shelled the south and launched frequent search-and-destroy patrols by ground forces; these actions, Fisk writes, were "usually against civilian targets and always with results quite out of proportion to the original Palestinian attack," initiating a "pattern that would be expanded, developed and perfected with ferocity over the coming fifteen years."[39] Villages that did not expel Palestinians experienced particularly intense bombardment. Lebanese officials reported an average of 1.4 daily Israeli attacks in 1968–74, and an average of seven daily raids in 1975.[40] Israel's warplanes were particularly deadly, especially when attacking refugee camps. One June 1974 camp attack, for example, killed 27 and wounded 105, while a May 1975 raid killed 60 and wounded 140.[41] Israeli shelling drove many southern Lebanese northward, with one source estimating "tens of thousands" of displaced persons in the early 1970s and another speaking of 30,000 displaced households, or 150,000–300,000 persons.[42]


Map 4. Israel and South Lebanon

[Full Size]

Israeli officials said the raids were retaliations for PLO violence, but in keeping with Israel's deterrence doctrine, its blows were more painful than those of the guerrillas. PLO forces killed 282 Israeli civilians and 250 soldiers from 1967 to July 1982, while Israel slew 3,500–5,000 civilians from 1973 to July 1982 alone. Israeli forces killed an additional 12,000–15,000 during its summer 1982 invasion, losing only 360 soldiers in return.[43] When Lebanese Shi'ites launched their own guerrilla war against Israel in the mid-1980s, Israeli leaders were surprised at the depth of popular southern Lebanese resentment against them.[44] At the same time, some southern Lebanese came to bitterly resent the Palestinian guerrillas, many of whom behaved arrogantly and attracted deadly Israeli reprisals.[45]


Lebanon collapsed into civil war in 1975, following rising tensions between Muslims, Palestinians, Druze, and Christians.[46] The Israeli-Palestinian fighting and PLO involvement in local Lebanese conflicts played a powerfully destabilizing role. Lebanese Christian factions were furious with PLO mobilization, which threatened to upset the country's confessional balance, undermine Christian power, and trigger Israeli reprisals.[47] In particular, the Christian militias were concerned because Palestinians had joined forces with leftist Muslim militias of the Lebanese National Movement. (Later on, the PLO's alliance with its Lebanese allies was disrupted, fueling the civil war even further.)[48] The civil war destroyed the Lebanese state, divided the country into warring fiefdoms, and caused tens of thousands of deaths.

Operation Litani and Its Aftermath

On March 14, 1978, following a brutal Palestinian attack on Jewish civilians in northern Israel, thousands of Israeli troops invaded Lebanon in an assault dubbed "Operation Litani."[49] The effort killed between 1,000 and 2,000 civilians, including seventy-five in a single air strike on an Abassiya mosque. Thousands were wounded, while 200,000–285,000 persons fled northward.[50]Washington Post journalist Jonathan Randal wrote that Israeli "destruction was on a scale known well in Vietnam," while Israeli scholar Yair Evron noted that Operation Litani caused "a mass civilian migration" in which "tens of thousands fled their homes" and "much property was destroyed," and involving "many casualties."[51] Randal estimates Israeli gunfire damaged or destroyed 6,000 homes and that "half a dozen villages were all but leveled in a frenzy of violence."[52] The destruction stemmed in part from Israel's reluctance to send troops into Palestinian-held neighborhoods without first using heavy artillery.

Operation Litani ended in withdrawal, but Israeli raids continued in an effort to keep the PLO from moving southward. Israeli warplanes killed 235 civilians in a May 1979 air raid, drove 50,000 northward on June 9, killed 309 and wounded 1,011 in July, and pushed another 170,000 northward on August 21. Overall, Israeli forces hit Lebanon 1,020 times between January and July 1979.[53] The attacks continued over the next two years and on July 17, 1981, Israel unleashed its most powerful barrage to date, destroying ten apartment buildings in West Beirut, killing 90–175 persons, and injuring 400–600.[54] Soon after, the PLO and Israel reached a cease-fire agreement that endured until June 1982.


During the 1970s, Israel came to view Lebanon as an arena where it was appropriate to use intense violence to punish civilians and guerrillas, and to convince Lebanese villagers to reject a Palestinian presence. At the same time, however, such methods were not considered appropriate in the West Bank and Gaza. Lebanon was external to Israel's formal zone of responsibility, separated by a sovereign border from the norms and laws of Israeli state and society. As Israeli rights group B'Tselem noted, the Israeli public debate "almost completely ignored the suffering and injustice inflicted on Lebanese civilians," suggesting that unlike West Bank and Gaza Palestinians, Lebanese civilians were not "part of the collective Israeli consciousness."[55] And, whereas there was public discussion of Palestinian human rights during the 1980s and 1990s, Israeli society had little to say about Lebanese civilians. Paradoxically, Israel's de facto annexation of Palestine implied a greater sense of Israeli responsibility for its inhabitants. By contrast, Israel was able to influence southern Lebanon through punitive operations, and it never sought comprehensive control. The frontier status of Lebanon, coupled with Israel's disinterest in annexing Lebanese territory, promoted sporadic acts of intense violence rather than infrastructural methods of surveillance and policing. Parts of Lebanon, in other words, took on some of the frontier characteristics that Bosnia assumed vis-à-vis Serbia in the early 1990s. Southern Lebanon was a peripheral zone of indeterminate status vis-à-vis Israel, whose armed forces used punitive sorties to drive out their civilian and militia enemies. The Israeli state made no effort to settle southern Lebanon with Jewish settlers, however, or to incorporate Lebanese land into its legal or bureaucratic fabric. Unlike the Palestinian ghetto, there was no Lebanese enclave trapped within the broader Israeli state.

Hundreds of thousands of southern Lebanese were "cleansed" northward by Israeli forces, but unlike Serbian actions in Bosnia, this was not part of a broader Israeli agenda of state expansion and demographic change. Israel had no intention of incorporating southern Lebanon into Greater Israel. Southern Lebanon was emptied of much of its civilian population due to Israeli counterinsurgency efforts, unlike Serbia's clandestine effort to re-engineer Bosnia's ethno-national composition.

The 1982 War

An assassination attempt in 1982 against Israel's London ambassador triggered an Israeli invasion dubbed Operation Peace for Galilee by its

planners. Its goal, broadly speaking, was to destroy the PLO's organizational infrastructure in Lebanon.[56] Although the group did not pose a threat to Israel's existence, it was able to harass civilians and represented a diplomatic and psychological challenge to Israel's long-term control over the West Bank and Gaza. As Khalidi noted, PLO leader Yasser Arafat had become "a head of state in all but name, more powerful than many Arab rulers. His was no longer a humble revolutionary movement, but rather a vigorous para-state, with a growing bureaucracy administering the affairs of Palestinians everywhere, and with a budget bigger than that of many small sovereign states."[57] Given their long-term plans for West Bank settlement and annexation, Israeli officials saw the PLO's growing stature as deeply problematic.[58] During the 1982 invasion, Israeli forces used violence on a grander scale than ever before, but also worked closely with local militia allies. According to some reports, Israeli leaders hoped—and perhaps even engaged in concrete planning—to engineer the expulsion of Palestinians from Lebanon.

Israeli warplanes began the war with a June 4 series of air raids, killing 45 and wounding 150.[59] Two days later, Israeli armored columns began advancing through southern Lebanon, including 90,000 troops, 2,600 armored vehicles, and hundreds of warplanes and artillery.[60] As was true during Operation Litani, Israeli commanders planned to limit their own casualties by first shelling suspect urban areas. As Israeli scholar Avner Yaniv noted, officers decided to use "masses of artillery" and intense air support, "even at the cost of heavy civilian casualties among the Palestinians and the Lebanese."[61] This tolerance of non-Jewish casualties, coupled with the Palestinian habit of basing guerrilla forces in urban areas, led to widespread loss of civilian life.[62] According to one Israeli trooper, orders instructing infantrymen to respect civilian life seemed meaningless when refugee camps were first "mercilessly shelled and bombed."[63] As Israeli academic Yehoshua Porat wrote, "The heavy bombardments, the enormous destruction and the high number of casualties" established a "most horrifying moral principle: Jewish blood is worth more than any other blood."[64] As another Israeli journalist opined, one of the war's central themes was "massive harm to Lebanon's innocent civilian population."[65]

Casualty rates attest to the invasion's intensity. Lebanese officials put the summer 1982 death toll at 18,000, of whom 2,000 were combatants, estimating an additional 30,000 injured; other sources argued for 12,000–15,000 civilian deaths and 40,000 wounded.[66] Israel's casualty toll for the same period was 368 dead and 2,383 wounded, all combatants.[67]

Lebanese property damage was also quite extensive. A June 1982 UN report, for example, reported that Israeli forces destroyed 35 percent of the houses in the Bourj el-Shemali refugee camp, 50 percent in El-Buss, 70 percent in Rashidiye, and 100 percent in Ein Hilwe; in Shatila camp, over 90 percent of the homes were destroyed or badly damaged, while all structures in the Bourj el Barajneh camp were entirely destroyed. Overall, estimates put damages at $12 billion, with 500,000–800,000 internally displaced persons.[68]

Witnesses seemed awed by the ferocity of Israel's actions. Reporter Avraham Rabinovich wrote that the effects of shelling on Tyre and Sidon were "numbing," while Robert Fisk reported that air attacks on Sidon "must have been among the most ferocious ever delivered on a Lebanese city … it looks as if a tornado has torn through the residential buildings."[69] Some of the worst damage occurred in Ein Hilwe refugee camp, where Israeli correspondents wrote that a "thick, black cloud of dust and smoke hung" as Israeli "artillery and planes pounded away … on and on … for days."[70] In his diary, Israeli officer Dov Yermiya wrote that "the quantity of bombs and shells" that Israeli forces poured into Ein Hilwe reminded him of World War II, while another Israeli reporter wrote that the camp had been transformed by shelling into "two square kilometers of twisted broken rubble, putrid rubbish and torn and shattered personal belongings." According to Lebanese authorities, the bombing killed some 600 persons.[71] Israeli forces used similar tactics against other camps, saying they contained underground guerrilla facilities. Cluster, fragmentation, and phosphorous munitions were reportedly used in populated areas, with painful results.[72] Media reports suggested some Israeli officers had opposed the indiscriminate bombardments, but that their opposition gave way due to their fear of Israeli infantry casualties.[73]

This violence was taking place in Lebanon not Palestine, highlighting the importance of institutional context. Had such methods been used in the ghetto, Israel would have been tearing at the very fabric of its own state. When aimed at Palestinians or Lebanese living beyond a sovereign border, however, no such trauma was involved. Israel's Lebanon offensives targeted external enemies situated beyond Israel's zone of empirical and juridical sovereignty, and thus did not disrupt established patterns of internal state governance. That Ein Hilwe was externalized while the West Bank camps were situated in the ghetto, however, was historical accident.

Israeli forces drove farther north, reaching Beirut on June 12, besieging 20,000 guerrillas and 300,000 civilians until August 21, when the

PLO withdrew under a United States-brokered deal.[74] Israeli artillery initially focused their fire on Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut's south-west, but when that failed to compel a PLO surrender, they began firing at the rest of West Beirut, with devastating effect. In early August, an International Herald Tribune report said that Israeli forces were "pounding heavily" Beirut's residential areas, trapping residents without the money to flee.[75] On August 1, 4, and 12, Washington Post correspondent Jonathan Randal wrote that Israeli forces "subjected West Beirut to punishment so intensive and indiscriminate that terror was the result." August 12, according to Israelis Schiff and Ya'ari, was "a nightmare in which the saturation bombing came on top of a massive artillery barrage," killing at least 300 residents.[76] On August 8, a British report said U.S. embassy cables to Washington observed that "tonight's saturation shelling was as intense as anything we have seen. There was no ‘pinpoint accuracy.’ … It was not a response to Palestinian fire. This was a blitz against West Beirut.… The magnitude of tonight's action is difficult to convey."[77] On August 16, journalist J. Michael Kennedy wrote that "whole neighborhoods" had disappeared, saying that Beirut had become a "city of broken concrete, flattened apartment buildings and death."[78] Lebanese officials estimate that in Beirut, 5,525 persons died and 11,139 were wounded from early June to September 2, 1982. According to the International Red Cross, 80 percent of those casualties were civilian.[79]

Israel's Expulsion Plans for Lebanon's Palestinian Refugees

As we saw in the previous chapters, the notion of ethnic cleansing or "Arab transfer" was increasingly discussed within Jewish nationalist circles in the 1980s. The number of Israelis interested in pursuing this option vis-à-vis Palestinians in the West Bank and, possibly, the Gaza Strip mounted throughout this period, even garnering support from some governing elites. Yet while at least some preconditions for an ethnic cleansing option for Palestinians did exist within Israel, movement in that direction was stymied by Palestine's ghetto-like institutional environment.

The Lebanese counterinsurgency frontier, however, presented a different set of constraints and possibilities, and according to some Israeli sources, there were wartime plans to forcibly deport many, if not all, of the Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon.[80] If Israeli leaders did have a scheme to deport Lebanon's 350,000-strong Palestinian refugee community, it would have been a logical outgrowth of Israel's broader effort to eliminate the PLO as an organizational and ideological force. As noted

above, the Palestinian group had developed substantial bureaucratic, military, and diplomatic weight during the 1970s, projecting a "state in waiting" image that threatened Israel's plans for long-term control over the West Bank. A few statistics demonstrate the depth of the PLO's presence. According to Yezid Sayigh, for example, Fatah, the main PLO faction, had 10,000 salaried bureaucrats, 16,200 fighters, and 25,000 parttime militia in 1980–81. Smaller PLO factions employed several more thousands, while another 7,000 men and women worked outside Lebanon.[81] In 1980, the PLO's welfare services supported 20,000 Palestinian families, ran three large orphanages, eleven day care centers, and a society for the blind. A PLO industrial agency employed 5,000 fulltime workers in forty-six workshops throughout Lebanon, offering vocational training to 30,000 in 1982, with reported earnings of $40 million.[82] According to Rex Brynen, the PLO's budget was in the "hundreds of millions of dollars," with much of that going to social and administrative programs.[83] Although these activities were headquartered in PLO buildings in West Beirut, they were rooted in Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut and other coastal towns. Without its refugee base, the PLO's quasi-state image would wither away.

Israeli governments were eager to ensure continued Jewish control over the West Bank and Gaza, but the PLO's international profile, coupled with its bureaucratic weight, presented a credible political alternative. A key Israeli goal for the 1982 war, therefore, was to destroy the PLO's Lebanon institutions in the hope that this would deal a fatal blow to the broader Palestinian nationalist cause.[84] Israel's military chief said as much in July 1982, noting that Israel's Lebanon war was "part of the struggle over the Land of Israel,"[85] and as Israeli defense minister Ariel Sharon elaborated, "the more we damage the PLO infrastructure, the more the Arabs in Judea and Samaria and Gaza will be ready to negotiate with us."[86] Israel, in other words, launched its 1982 attack on Lebanon to resolve a policy issue in Palestine. In a pattern that repeated itself throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Israel used more intense methods in Lebanon, even though its real target was Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

Hints of a possible Israeli plan to expel Palestinian civilians from Lebanon came first from prime minister Menachem Begin on June 10, 1982, four days after the war began, when he reportedly used the term "transfer" in describing Israeli war aims.[87] On June 18, according to reserve officer Dov Yermiyah's published war diary, cabinet minister Yaakov Meridor told a group of Israeli troops in Lebanon that Palestinian refugees "must be pushed away eastward, toward Syria; let them go

over there, but do not let them come back." On August 26, Meridor told a press conference that Israel hoped to "relocate" Palestinian refugees to "other regions."[88] Further suggestion of an expulsion campaign came from Ariel Sharon during the siege of Beirut, when he allegedly referred to Palestinian neighborhoods in the city as "terrorist camps" that needed to be "cleaned out, utterly destroyed," and "razed to the ground," despite their being home to some 85,000 persons. Their civilian residents, Sharon said, should "move on elsewhere." According to Israeli correspondents Schiff and Ya'ari, Sharon proposed bombing the camps for a week and then sending in Israel's local militia allies.[89]

The existence of a tacit Israeli plan to expel at least some of Lebanon's Palestinian refugees was also indicated by its policy of post-conflict refugee camp reconstruction. In the country's south, Israeli forces initially blocked camp reconstruction efforts, and on June 13, 1982, the officer in charge of civilian affairs in southern Lebanon explained that the destruction of Palestinian camps "should be regarded as an inadvertent but welcome achievement."[90] Indeed, Israeli forces reportedly helped complete camp destruction by bulldozing surviving structures. According to international human rights campaigners, Israel's policy indicated it hoped "to push the Palestinian people out of the occupied zones and even out of Lebanon."[91] A final suggestion of possible Israeli intentions comes from the Sabra and Shatila killings, discussed below, which may have been linked to a broader deportation plan devised, at least in part, by Israel's militia allies.

Israel did not always act brutally in Lebanon, of course, and Israeli society was not uniformly in favor of despotic violence. Indeed, Jewish protests against the September 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacres and the Lebanon war demonstrated clearly that many Israelis opposed their government's policy. Israel, like Serbia, was a complex, multifaceted society, containing both radical and more moderate tendencies. Zionist ideology, like all nationalist frameworks, included both radicals and pragmatists. Neither Israel nor Zionism was essentially prone to intense violence.


The Israeli military kept a lid on paramilitaries in the West Bank and Gaza, but pursued a different policy in Lebanon. As an external zone, Lebanon was a better environment for Israeli cooperation with private militias, and Israel's security services there developed close links to two

semi-autonomous forces. The first, based in two Christian enclaves led by Lebanese army majors Saad Haddad and Sami Shidiak, was dubbed The Army of Free Lebanon, later known as the Southern Lebanese Army.[92] The second, located in East Beirut and Mount Lebanon, centered on the 5,000-strong Lebanese Forces, the armed wing of the Christian Maronite Phalange party.[93] When the Lebanese civil war began in 1975, Israeli security agencies developed ties to both groups as a counterweight to the PLO, and over time, the militias became involved in troubling abuses. Like Serbia, Israel denied responsibility for the militias' actions, saying they occurred beyond Israel's zone of juridical or empirical sovereignty. There is evidence, however, suggesting that Israel maintained vibrant, if often covert, ties to the Lebanese militias.[94]

Haddad's Southern Lebanese Army

Details of Israel's early links to Lebanese Christian irregulars along Israel's northern border come from Beatte Hamizrachi, an Israeli journalist linked to both parties.[95] When the 1975 civil war began, Lebanese army Major Saad Haddad moved to the south, where he soon initiated contacts with Adal, the Israeli army's planning and liaison unit for southern Lebanon.[96] Headquartered in the Israeli border town of Metula, Adal officers hoped to build up the region under Haddad's control to act as a buffer against the PLO and its Lebanese allies. Adal began as a small, unofficial group of intelligence officers, but it eventually became an influential body, due largely to its ability to influence the southern Lebanese militias. Haddad first met with Adal representatives in November 1976, and within months, his men were using Israeli uniforms, weapons, and funds.[97]

With Israeli encouragement, Haddad enlarged his enclave during the late 1970s, taking over both Christian and Shi'ite areas. His methods were occasionally brutal, as in the case of an October 7, 1976, massacre of fifty prisoners in Marjayoun, or the 1978 killing of prisoners in el-Khiam village during Israel's Operation Litani.[98] Looting, Hamizrachi writes, was the "unwritten law" of the land, allowing the victors to "do with the possessions of the vanquished" as they pleased.[99] Although Adal's involvement in the massacres and theft is unclear, Hamizrachi believed the Israelis wielded considerable control over Haddad's men. "Adal orders," Hamizrachi flatly stated, "were always carried out."[100]

A second border enclave was commanded by former Lebanese army major Sami Shidiak, with headquarters in the village of Rumeish D'bil.

Although Adal officers worked with both Shidiak and Haddad, they reportedly found the former less cooperative. Again, there were reports of atrocities, as in the case of Shidiak's March 1978 attack on Maround a-Ras village, where his forces, bolstered by reinforcements transported into the area by Israeli forces, allegedly perpetrated killings and sexual assaults.[101] Israel helped link Shidiak and Haddad's enclaves during Operation Litani, creating a border strip that would, after 1985, form the basis for Israel's unofficial "security zone" under Haddad's successor force, the Southern Lebanese Army (SLA).

Israel's relations with the border militias grew increasingly close during the 1980s and 1990s. In 1999, a top Israeli official admitted that the army and the SLA "coordinated their military activity," while Yossi Peled, former head of Israel's northern military command, went a step further, stating that Israeli officers "set goals for the SLA … assigned them missions … and supplied training."[102] Israel paid SLA members a salary of $300– $500 per month, transferring a total of $108.2 million to the border militia from 1995 to 1999 alone.[103] Although the Israeli government argued it had no "effective control" over the group and was not responsible for SLA abuses, a report by the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem stated otherwise, arguing that the "responsibility of Israel for SLA acts is clearer than that of Yugoslavia for acts of the Serb militia in Bosnia-Herzegovina."[104] Reported SLA abuses included massacres, indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas, and torture in its Khiam prison, used chiefly for Lebanese suspected of anti-Israeli activities.[105] In 1999, an SLA commander indirectly acknowledged that harsh interrogation methods were used in Khiam, telling an Israeli journalist that one "would be lying" if one were to claim that "there were no beatings going on there."[106] Israel denied responsibility for Khiam goings-on, saying its representatives were not involved in the prison's interrogations.[107] In 1999, however, an Israeli commander acknowledged that his officers made monthly visits to Khiam to disburse some $30,000 in SLA salaries, and that Israeli security agents "collaborate with SLA personnel, and even help them in professional instruction and training." The officer denied, however, that the agents participated in the "frontal interrogation" of Khiam prisoners.[108] Details on the SLA's links to Israel's security services were supplied by a whistle-blower in Israel's Liaison Unit for Lebanon (LUL), the successor to Adal, who said the unit was a "shadow organization that supervises and commands the SLA," providing an Israeli advisor for every SLA officer. In Khiam, he claimed, Israeli agencies had placed "an instructor from the military police to advise

vise the SLA jailers and administrators."[109] Despite official Israeli denials, in other words, Israel's links to the border militia appear to have been close.

Israel's Beirut-Area Allies

The Lebanese border irregulars were Israeli creations, but the militias based in Beirut and Mount Lebanon were major political actors in their own right. The Lebanese Forces, armed wing of the Maronite Christian Phalange party, were led by the Jemayels, a prominent Lebanese family, while the Tigers, another militia, were run by the Chamouns. In the 1970s and early 1980s, both militias strongly opposed the PLO's presence in Lebanon, largely because of the group's support for the Maronites' Muslim rivals. In 1975, Phalange representatives contacted Israeli diplomats in Europe, requesting arms and munitions, and Israel's foreign intelligence agency, along with military intelligence, initiated an increasingly robust supply-and-coordination effort.

Fighting between PLO and Maronite forces grew particularly bitter during 1975 and 1976, and civilians were prime targets on both sides. A 1976 Lebanese Forces massacre of Palestinians in Beirut's Karantina refugee camp triggered a PLO massacre in Damour two days later, [110] and in response, a coalition of Lebanese Forces and Tigers besieged the Palestinian refugee camp at Tel al-Zatar, calling on their Israeli contacts to lend a helping hand. In July 1976, Israeli officers, including Adal commander Fuad Ben-Eliezer, met with Lebanese Force commanders in a position overlooking Tel al-Zatar. "Seated in the upper command post," Israeli correspondents Schiff and Ya'ari recount, "Ben-Eliezer watched as the Phalangist gunners fired quantities of shells into the camps," many of which "had come in Israeli aid shipments."[111] Later that month, Israel delivered armored vehicles to the Christians, helping them penetrate the camp's perimeter. On July 24, according to Palestinian historian Yezid Sayigh, shells from one such armored vehicle destroyed a building and killed 250 refugees hiding in its basement.[112] On August 9, Lebanese Forces and Tigers overran the camp, massacring 1,000–2,000 persons. Thousands more died during the siege, and the camp was razed to the ground.[113] Israel's supporting role in these events, however, was rarely discussed. Like Serbia, Israel was covertly involved in supplying paramilitary forces operating just beyond its borders. As was true for the ethnic Serb militias in Bosnia, the Lebanese paramilitaries were involved in severe human rights abuses. Israel's global alliances were very different

from those of Serbia, however, and its cross-border paramilitary ties generated less international criticism.

After the Likud government was reelected in 1981, Israel intelligence agencies developed even closer ties to their Lebanese Forces allies. The militias initially held back during Israel's 1982 invasion, but they moved to consolidate power over Beirut once the PLO agreed to withdraw in mid-August. With Israeli forces ringing the Lebanese capital, the Phalangists arranged for their leader, Bashir Jemayel, to assume the Lebanese presidency. Jemayel was assassinated by unknown killers on September 14, however, throwing the Christian militias, and their Israeli allies, into disarray. In an effort to reassert its control over Beirut events, Israel sent its forces into West Beirut, violating its United States-brokered deal with the PLO. One of its first operations was to encircle the Palestinian camps in Sabra and Shatila, where, according to Israeli leaders, Palestinian militiamen were still holed up.[114] Acting upon Israel's request, the Lebanese Forces entered the camps, killing 700–3,000 Palestinian civilians.[115] As Israeli journalist Amnon Kapeliouk writes, "Terrorized refugees … reported witnessing barbaric acts. They described the relentless manhunt through the streets of the camps conducted by small groups of militiamen … entire families were taken from shelters and murdered on the spot … women were repeatedly violated and physically mutilated."[116] Israeli officials denied responsibility for the atrocities, but an Israeli commission of inquiry castigated senior commanders and politicians, including defense minister Ariel Sharon, saying they bore substantial but indirect responsibility for the killings.[117] The officers had ordered Israeli forces to besiege the camps, sent the militias in, provided illumination and perimeter security, blocked any escape, and then permitted the killings to continue when reports of mass killings first emerged.

On September 28, the Israeli daily Ha'aretz reported that the Sabra and Shatila killings appeared to have been part of a broader plan to expel Palestinians from Lebanon. The idea, the paper said, was to "create panic and provoke an exodus, en masse, of Palestinians towards Syria."[118] An Israeli official made a similar claim, saying Christian Lebanese militias hoped the massacres would provoke the "panicked flight of Palestinians from the Beirut refugee camps to northern or southern Lebanon, creating a new demographic and territorial balance in Lebanon's capital."[119] According to a Beirut newspaper, the Christian-led Lebanese government had hoped to reduce the Palestinian refugee population from 300,000 to 50,000. The Israeli commission of inquiry argued that Phalangist leaders "proposed removing a large portion of the

Palestinian refugees from Lebanese soil" and did "not conceal their opinion that it would be necessary to resort to acts of violence in order to cause the exodus of many Palestinian refugees from Lebanon."[120] None of these sources discussed Israeli involvement in the militia's expulsion schemes. Given the above-mentioned evidence for a possible Israelibacked deportation effort, however, it is possible that the Sabra and Shatila events were, at the very least, a Phalangist interpretation of their shared goals with Israel.

Israel, in sum, worked closely with paramilitary allies during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, chiefly as a way of fighting its enemies in Lebanon. The irregulars resorted to an array of despotic measures, including massacres and attempted ethnic cleansing. Israel's links to these groups suggest that institutional conditions permitting, it was capable of building the type of cross-border links that Serbia developed in 1992 with the Bosnian militias. Like Serbia, Israel could work with irregulars if the relationship was discrete, and if their victims were located beyond Israel's zone of overt and empirical control. The Israeli state's ties to the Lebanese irregulars were thus very different from its links to Jewish militias in Palestine, who acted as military auxiliaries and vigilantes. In Palestine, the Israeli military placed an effective cap on Jewish militia violence, much as Serbia did in the Sandžak and Vojvodina.

This chapter has suggested there were tangible alternatives to Israel's ethnic policing repertoire in the West Bank and Gaza, where Jewish militias discussed—but did not even come close to launching—a real ethnic cleansing effort. Although the irregulars had the requisite ideology, weapons, administrative capacities, and official allies, they were constrained by the Israeli state, which refused to tolerate Lebanon-style violence in Palestinian lands under its direct control.

Differences in Israel's treatment of Lebanon and Palestine are striking. Although Lebanon was exposed to more intense Israeli methods, it also enjoyed greater freedom from direct Israeli control. Israeli forces wrought occasional havoc in the country but then disappeared, returning at irregular intervals to punish wrongdoers. The Israeli army in Lebanon was distant but ferocious, striking with great intensity but then withdrawing, making little effort to penetrate, embrace, or dominate Lebanese society. In the West Bank and Gaza, by contrast, Israel worked much harder to create a smooth system of control, devising a more allencompassing grid of state power. As a result, Palestine ghetto residents were spared Lebanon-style destruction, but found their lives managed to

a far greater extent by Israeli policies and desires. Israel, in other words, punished Lebanon through acts of despotism, but comprehensively disciplined Palestine through techniques of infrastructural power.

Imagine: what if the international community had ordered Israel to withdraw from Palestinian lands? It is conceivable that Jewish militias would have launched an ethnic cleansing effort with the tacit support of at least some members of the Israeli army and bureaucracy. For those doubtful of Israel's capacity to participate in such a campaign, events in Lebanon should give them pause. There, Israel relied on methods far more despotic than those used in Palestine; its shelling killed or displaced large numbers of civilians, and its militia allies were involved in severe human rights abuses. None of this, of course, proves that Israel or its allies would have ethnically cleansed Palestine given the chance. The Lebanon experience is suggestive, however, especially when substantial pro-transfer sentiment within certain Israeli constituencies is taken into account. At the very least, it provides cause for concern when Israeli-Palestinian fighting in the West Bank and Gaza escalates.

Conventional wisdom in North America argues that Israel, like other strong Western allies, is inherently incapable of the type of awful violence wielded by Serbian forces in Bosnia. Given Israel's democratic political regime, its cultural sensitivities, and tragic experiences in the Holocaust, the Jewish state is simply incapable of unleashing ethnic cleansing, either directly or through paramilitary proxies. Israel's Lebanon experiences, by contrast, suggest that under appropriate institutional conditions, Israel—like many other states—is capable of extreme despotism. The cases explored in this and other chapters suggest that state violence is dramatically shaped by the institutional setting in which it takes place, and that in thinly institutionalized arenas, ethnic cleansing is a very real possibility.

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