Dsc4012 – terrorism chapter 9 Terrorism in Israel and Palestine Dr. E. Buchholz Learning Objectives: Chapter 9

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Chapter 9 - Terrorism in Israel and Palestine

Dr. E. Buchholz

Learning Objectives: Chapter 9

  • Describe the rise of Fatah and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

  • Identify factional groups that emerged from squabbles among the Palestinians.

  • Discuss the origins and growth of Hezbollah after the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon.

  • Explain the current political and military aspects of Hezbollah.

Learning Objectives: Chapter 9

  • Outline the impact of the first Intifada and the birth of Hamas.

  • Describe the current operational capabilities of Hamas.

  • Summarize the tactics of the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

  • Summarize controversial Israeli counterterrorist policies.

Palestine Liberation Organization

  • Yasser Arafat (1929-2004)

    • Founding member of Fatah and the PLO

  • PLO

    • Formed in 1964

    • Secular (non-religious) group whose goal is to establish a government for displaced Palestinians

    • Palestinians live in Israel, Palestinian areas controlled by Israel, and other countries


  • Formed by Arafat in 1959

  • A guerrilla organization

  • Waged a campaign against the Israelis

  • Used small-unit tactics and terrorist actions

  • Merged with PLO in 1964

  • Fedayeen

    • Secular warriors of Fatah

    • Attacked Israel (“Fatah operations”) with just a few hundred fighters

Fatah and the Six-Day War

  • With the Arabs in complete military disarray, Fatah’s reputation rose

  • Rival groups tried to outdo Arafat, but it was Fatah’s attacks that drew Israel’s attention, making Arafat a hero in Palestinian eyes and moving Fatah into the leading role

Battle at Karamah

  • Israelis staged an attack on a village in Karamah, Jordan harboring fadayeen.

  • Meant to be a hit-and-run attack.

  • Sent in infantry and tanks, then withdrew even though they were about to overrun the fedayeen.

  • The legend of the battle as told of Fatah’s fedayeen was that of defeating the Israeli Defense Forces.

  • Millions were donated, corrupting the PLO leadership, making it the most powerful Palestinian group.

The PLO Expelled

  • As the PLO grew, it drew closer to militant Arab states, giving them a potential base in Jordan

  • King Hussein of Jordan ordered Arafat to stop its attacks

  • Radical elements in Iraq and Syria encouraged Arafat to defy Hussein’s order

  • Hussein attacked the PLO in 1970

    • Arafat fled to southern Lebanon

Black September and Munich

  • Arafat blamed Israelis for Hussein’s actions

  • Due to the splintering of the PLO, he created a new group--“Black September”

  • Using German leftist allies, Black September began planning a strike against the Israelis

  • Black September struck the 1972 Olympic Village and took most of the Israeli Olympic team hostage, killing those who tried to escape

1982 Invasion of Lebanon

  • Massive 3-pronged Israeli Defense Force invaded Lebanon

  • PLO was surrounded and bombarded by Israelis in Beirut

  • Arafat fled Beirut for Tripoli with 14,000 fedayeen, 10,000 guerrillas stayed and joined the Syrians.

Palestinian Terrorism

  • From 1967 to 1982, the PLO was characterized by internal splintering

  • Arafat found that he could not retain control of the military wing, and several groups split from it

  • New groups formed after the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, including Hezbollah and Hamas

Major Groups

  • Abu Nidal Organization

  • Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades

  • Black September

  • Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine

  • Fatah

  • Force 17

  • Hamas

  • Hezbollah

Major Groups

  • Palestinian Islamic Jihad

  • Palestine Liberation Front

  • Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine

  • Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine

  • Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, General Command

  • Tanzim Brigade


  • Islamic Resistance Movement

  • Palestinian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood

  • Accept violence as a norm

  • Primary mission is to oppose the PLO

  • Its military wing is the Izz el Din al Qassam Brigades

  • 2004, Israel assassinated their spiritual leader, Sheik Ahmed Yassin

  • As soon as he was replaced, the Israelis killed him too


  • The Iranian-backed Party of God

  • Operates from southern Lebanon

  • Forms alliances of convenience with other organizations participating in the al Aqsa Intifada

    • An uprising sparked by Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount with a group of armed escorts in September 2000.

    • Characterized by suicide bombings.

  • Has been referred to as the deadliest terrorist group in the world.

The Origins of Hezbollah

  • Hezbollah’s roots can be traced to a desire to export revolutionary ideals from Iran and Shi’ite emancipation in Lebanon

  • Hezbollah grew from a council of Shiite scholars who claimed to be part of a spiritual movement

  • Hezbollah developed under the leadership of three central figures: Sheik Mohammed Hassan Fadlallah, Abbas Musawi, and Hassan Nasrallah

The Origins of Hezbollah

  • Phase one of the Hezbollah development

  • In its second phase, Hezbollah’s leadership launched a kidnapping campaign in Beirut

  • The third phase of Hezbollah’s metamorphosis came in 1990

    • Created a regional militia

    • Became primary paramilitary force in southern Lebanon

A Sympathetic View of Hezbollah

  • Many voices in Lebanon Hezbollah is a legitimate self-defense force

  • Many Hezbollah guerrillas simply refer to themselves as the “Islamic resistance”

  • Hezbollah is a source of inspiration

  • After the 2006 war, support for Hezbollah grew to an all-time high

Critical View of Hezbollah

  • Hezbollah is a deadly international terrorist organization that uses international crime to finance operations

  • Hezbollah has killed U.S. citizens and kidnapped and tortured Americans

  • Hezbollah provided a model for the formation of an international umbrella of terrorist organizations

An Overview of Hamas

  • Hamas was formed in December 1987 at the beginning of the first Intifada

  • Hamas’ political wing oversees internal and foreign relations

  • The social wing runs charities, schools, hospitals, and other social service organizations in Gaza

Struggles for Leadership

  • Yassin was jailed from 1989 to 1997

  • Musa Abu Marzuq took over Hamas

  • After Yassin was released from prison, he gradually reasserted control over Hamas

Seeking Election

  • In March 2004, Yassin was leaving a mosque in Gaza when Israeli helicopters appeared and fired three missiles at him

  • The new leader was Khalid Meshal

  • Palestinians voted Fatah out of power in January, and Hamas won the election

Elections and Security

  • Hamas won the majority of seats in the Palestinian Parliament

  • Mahmud Abbas refused to transfer Palestinian control from Fatah to Hamas

  • Hamas and Fatah gunmen fought routine battles; Hamas took direct control of Gaza

Hamas v. Fatah

  • Hamas controlled the majority of seats in the Palestinian Parliament, while Mahmud Abbas retained the presidency

    • This set the stage for a confrontation

  • Saudi Arabia brokered a power-sharing arrangement between Hamas and Fatah

  • Hamas had driven Fatah from Gaza, and Abbas had dissolved the government

Invading Lebanon

  • Israel launched its first invasion of Lebanon to rid the south of the PLO

    • Ended after an eighteen-year occupation and the creation of a new enemy, Hezbollah

  • In a war that lasted nearly a month, hundreds of Lebanese civilians were killed, nearly a million Lebanese were displaced, and Lebanon’s infrastructure was destroyed

Effective Tactics

  • The Brigades’ primary tactics have been drive-by shootings, sniper shootings, ambushes, and kidnap-murders

  • Martyrs Brigades suicide bombers were frightening for two reasons:

    • They were secular

    • They sought out targets crowded with civilians

Leadership in the Martyrs Brigades

  • Brigades seem to be directly associated with their parent group, Fatah

  • One school of thought maintains that Arafat led and paid for the Brigade

Leadership in the Martyrs Brigades

  • A BBC News investigation points to Marwan Barghouti as the commander

  • Ja’Aire claimed that he and other Brigades commanders were under Arafat’s control

Controversial Tactics

  • Destroying the homes of suicide-bomber families

  • Selective assassination of Palestinian leaders

  • Killing innocents when striking militants

  • Excessive use of force – was it?


  • Purpose was to destroy the family homes of suicide bombers

  • If militant charities and governments were going to compensate families of martyrs, the Israelis reasoned, bulldozing homes would be more painful than the pleasure of economic reward

Controversial Tactics

  • Commando raids in neighboring countries

  • June 2006 invasion of Lebanon

  • December 2008 invasion of Gaza

  • Blockade of Gaza

  • May 2010 violent interception of ships during Gaza blockade

Chapter Take Aways

  • The modern conflict between Israel and Palestine is based in terrorism.

  • Fatah imitated the Irgun by using terrorist tactics, but the movement was not united.

  • Palestinian militancy is characterized by factionalism.

  • Terrorism moved to the international arena in the 1980s, but it has remained localized for the last three decades.

Chapter Take Aways

  • The current major operational groups are Hezbollah, Hamas, and the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

  • Israeli policies are controversial.

  • Critics claim the Israelis overreact.

  • Defenders maintain strong tactics are necessary to counter terror.


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