Ariel Center for Policy Research (ACPR)

ACPR Research – Summary


The Palestinian Authority:
Terror Organizations in the Guise of
a Security Apparatus

Avraham Gur

Policy Paper No. 154 (Hebrew),  2004

This article will present the outline of a research paper on the topic of the development of the Palestinian security apparatuses into terrorist organizations, over the course of the existence of the Palestinian Authority, 1993-2004.


The Thesis

The PLO has never abandoned the “step-by-step” theory, which ultimately leads to the liquidation of the State of Israel.

Signing the Oslo Agreement was a significant step in gaining a foothold in Israel and a significant first step towards realization of the step-by-step theory.

The PA’s security philosophy was constructed on the basis of this theory. The PLO has never abandoned terrorism as a strategic instrument to achieve its national aspirations, which are: Establishment of a Palestinian state upon the ruins of the State of Israel, while liquidating the State of Israel. The Palestinian security apparatuses were established as a central building block of this Weltanschauung. The PA’s rational thinking was, Acquire as much as possible from the Israelis by means of negotiation, and in the future, when the talks reach an impasse, the “doomsday” weapon – terrorism – will be deployed.


The Study’s Conclusion

The study answered the question: Was the transformation of the Palestinian security apparatuses into terrorism apparatuses an evolutionary process or was it premeditated in order to achieve political objectives unattainable by means of a political process?

The question was examined in the context of the totality of the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1993 and an analysis of its long term strategic objectives: The establishment of a single Palestinian state between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River upon the ruins of the State of Israel.

In order to reinforce this thesis, three phases in the administration of the Palestinian security apparatuses were examined.


Phase One – Establishment of the Palestinian Security Apparatuses 1993-1994

This phase is the most significant because it attests to long term planning and true intentions. The Oslo Accords dictated precisely the size and composition of the Palestinian Security apparatuses, their armaments and their training. This was the initial stage in which there was a blatant violation in all of the areas mentioned above, with no significant reaction by the Israeli government, which could have brought an end to the continued process.

  • Scope of the Forces: The agreement called for seven different apparatuses; in practice, 12 different apparatuses were established, most of them intelligence or preventive security apparatuses, whose advantage is that they do not wear uniforms, thus their number was concealed and their participation in terrorist activity was simplified and made more difficult to track.

  • Armament: The agreement called for light arms, some armored vehicles, a limited number of machine guns and a total ban on weapons production or the establishment of a weapons industry. In practice, there was a massive deviation from the agreements. The weapons were both quantitatively and qualitatively beyond agreed levels. In addition, as far as types of weapons were concerned, they acquired machine guns, mortars, Low missiles and Sagger missiles. An entire weapons industry was established, which included: Production of explosives, mortars, mortar shells and Qasam missiles.

  • Training: The agreement called for police training, and anti-terrorist training for regular and undercover police forces. In practice in addition to police training, military training, combat against military forces and training of an army command in the neighboring Arab countries and Pakistan were also carried out.


Phase Two – Support for the Activity of the Islamic Terrorist Organizations and Clandestine Participation in that Activity through 2000.

Of the three phases examined in this study, this is the most difficult phase to substantiate. Proof of this thesis requires an in-depth examination of intelligence reports on the one hand, and as analysis of the open media on the other. Below is a detailing of the primary points presented in the study, which aided the reinforcement of the thesis:

  • The declarations of the senior members of the Palestinian Authority regarding the use of a dual strategy: Negotiations and terrorism.

  • The development of the “Tanzim” as the military arm of Fatah, and its arming with the weapons of the security forces.

  • The development of the “cities of refuge” phenomenon, under the auspices and protection of the Palestinian security apparatuses.

  • The “revolving door” policy – the arrest and immediate release of terrorists by the security forces.

  • Attacking IDF soldiers while carrying out joint patrols.

  • Staffing the Palestinian security apparatuses with former and current terrorists.

  • Failure of the intelligence apparatuses to foil terrorist attacks despite information provided them by the GSS.

  • Desperate pursuit of Israeli intelligence sources in the territories, despite the fact that the information was intended to assist the Palestinian Authority in its purported battle against the Islamic opposition organizations.

  • Initiating combat against the IDF in the “Western Wall Tunnel” incidents in 1996 and in the “Naqba” incidents in May 2000.


Phase Three – Open Terrorist Activity of the Palestinian Security Apparatuses since September 2000

The research project relied on four sources of information in this phase of the study:

The media: Written – newspapers, Electronic – radio and television.

Captured documents, which fell into the hands of Israeli security forces during combat beginning with the “Defensive Shield” Operation.

Interrogation of terrorists and fugitives who were apprehended.

Declarations by senior Palestinian Authority officials regarding assistance provided by the Palestinian security apparatuses to the Islamic terrorist organizations, emphasizing Palestinian unity.

After examining the evidence in the aforementioned three phases, we are able to provide a positive answer to the question raised by the study.

The Palestinian security apparatuses were originally constructed to be terrorist organization when the time was ripe and in that sense they did not disappoint those who established them, headed by the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Yassir Arafat.

For the complete article (in Hebrew), click here.