Vol. 9, No. 8 September 13, 2009
- After international human rights organizations accused Israel of killing innocent Palestinian “traffic policemen” during the Gaza operation, a detailed investigation shows that a decisive majority of the Palestinian “policemen” were members of the military wings of the Palestinian terror organizations and fighters who had undergone military training.
- Among the 343 members of the Palestinian security forces who were killed, 286 have been identified as terror organization members (83 percent). Another 27 fighters belonging to units undergoing infantry training raises this total to 313 (91 percent).
- Lumped under the rubric of the “Palestinian police” are all the security bodies that fulfilled combat and terror roles against Israel, the intelligence and preventive intelligence bodies, as well as those active in policing and maintaining order. Those serving in all of the Palestinian security apparatuses in 2007 and 2008 took part in terror activity and fighting against the IDF.
- In the December 27, 2008, attack on an officer training course at Gaza police headquarters, 89 dead were counted. Of these, 60 (67 percent) belonged to Hamas and almost all were members of its military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades. The total number of terror activists and fighters among those killed at police headquarters was 81 (91 percent).
- The human rights organizations which reported on Palestinian casualties in Gaza failed to mention the affiliation of hundreds of Palestinian security personnel who were members of terrorist organizations and who were trained fighters, thus artificially inflating the list of “civilians” killed by the IDF.
After international human rights organizations accused Israel of killing innocent Palestinian “traffic policemen” during the Gaza operation (Dec. 27, 2008-Jan. 18, 2009) who were not involved in fighting or in terror, a detailed investigation shows that a decisive majority of the Palestinian “policemen” were members of the military wings of the Palestinian terror organizations and fighters who had undergone military training.
Among the 343 members of the Palestinian security forces who were killed, 286 have been identified as terror organization members (83 percent). Another 27 fighters belonging to units undergoing infantry training raises this total to 313 (91 percent).
Who Were the Palestinian “Policemen”?
The official list of the slain Palestinian policemen was published for the first time on the police website on February 24, 2009.1 The term “Palestinian police” was incorporated in the interim accords between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (1995) pursuant to the Israeli demand that sought to avoid awarding the Palestinians the trappings of an independent state. Lumped under the rubric of the “Palestinian police” were all the security bodies that fulfilled combat and terror roles against Israel, the intelligence and preventive intelligence bodies, as well as those active in policing and maintaining order.
Following the Hamas victory in the parliamentary elections of January 2006, Hamas established a new security force – the Executive Force – subordinate to the Ministry of Interior, which was a military force intended for “qualitative missions” in the fight against Israel and elements opposed to the regime. Hamas ally Jamal Abu Samhadana, who headed the Popular Resistance Committees terror organization, was placed in charge of this force.
Following the June 2007 military coup that enabled Hamas to take over the Gaza Strip, Hamas authorities conducted a reorganization of the Palestinian security forces, known as the “Palestinian police.” Its main components include:
- The Police – infantry forces that are intended also to fight against Israel, comprised of the Rapid Intervention Force, the Executive Force, the Naval Police, and the Military Police
- National Security – an infantry force
- Security and Protection – a skilled force loyal to the Hamas regime and charged with providing security for the leadership and sensitive institutions
- Internal Security – the preventive intelligence apparatus
- Civil Defense – evacuation and rescue forces
An analysis of the lists of Palestinians slain in 2007 and 2008 reveals that those serving in all of the Palestinian security apparatuses took part in terror activity and fighting against the IDF.2 The Hamas leadership presented these organizations alongside “the Palestinian Resistance” as the spearhead of the continued armed struggle and the jihad for liberating all of Palestine.
How Many Slain Palestinian “Policemen”?
The Palestinian police published an official list of 231 “policemen” killed in the course of the Gaza operation. Ihab al-Ghussein, spokesman for the Palestinian Ministry of Interior, later divulged that the number of Palestinian “police” killed totaled 230, the Security and Protection apparatus lost 50, National Security and Internal Security had 10 slain, and Civil Defense 11. This makes a total of 301 killed among the various Palestinian security apparatuses of the Hamas government.3
This study examined the official published lists of policemen as well as the lists of fatalities put out by the Palestinian human rights organizations PCHR and El-Mizan, as well as additional information published in open sources (such as the websites of the Palestinian Authority, the Hamas government, and the Palestinian press). The total data listed the names of 343 who were defined as Palestinian “policemen” or “security personnel” killed during the course of the Gaza operation.
The Connection between the Palestinian Security Forces and the Palestinian Terror Organizations
An analysis of the list of slain Palestinian security forces shows that of the 343 killed, 258 (75.2 percent) were Hamas members, almost all of them members of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas.4 Twelve more were members of the Popular Resistance Committees, eight belonged to the military wings of Fatah, three were members of Islamic Jihad, four were defined as “fighters” whose organizational affiliation is unknown, and one belonged to the “Army of the Umma,” an extreme Islamic terror organization identified as an al-Qaeda offshoot.
In the official fatality list published by the Palestinian police, only one policeman was listed as a member of the traffic division, senior NCO Hussein Naim Hussein Abbas, who was also a member of the al-Qassam Brigades.
Another 27 fighters belonged to units undergoing infantry training intended for fighting against Israel. Thus, the total number of terror activists and fighters among those killed from the Palestinian security apparatuses totals 313, or 91 percent of the fatalities.
In the December 27, 2008, attack on an officer training course at Gaza police headquarters, 89 dead were counted, according to the PCHR. Of these, 60 (67 percent) belonged to Hamas and almost all were members of the al-Qassam Brigades. Two belonged to the military wings of Fatah and one to the Popular Resistance Committees. Eighteen came from units that were undergoing infantry training intended for fighting against Israel. Thus, the total number of terror activists and fighters among those killed at police headquarters was 81 (91 percent).
Ten Examples of “Policemen” from Hamas’ Military Wing
Among those killed in the IDF attack on police headquarters on December 27 were the following members of the military wing of Hamas:
- Omar Bakr Shimali (b. 1988) was a member of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. Shimali began as an activist in the Hamas student organization (al-Kutla al-Islamiya). He was assigned to a “Special Unit” and was stationed at front-line positions. At the same time, Shimali was active in the military police and worked at police headquarters.5
- Mohammed Khaled Shahiber (b. 1987) joined the al-Qassam Brigades in 2007 and was stationed at front-line positions.6
- Bilal Mahmoud Omar (b. 1989) joined the Muslim Brotherhood in 2006 and at the same time was active in the Hamas security apparatus. In 2007 he joined the al-Qassam Brigades and was assigned to forward positions. He served as a security guard at the home of Police Commander Tawfik Jabber.7
- Sidqi Ismail Hamad (b. 1983) was active in Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, and in mid-2008 joined the al-Qassam Brigades. He served as a bodyguard for Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. He was an officer with the rank of lieutenant in the Security and Protection apparatus.8
- Mohammed Tawfik al-Nimra (b. 1986) joined Hamas in 2003 and also swore loyalty to the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2006 he joined the al-Qassam Brigades and was stationed in front-line positions.9
- Mohammed Ziad al-Nabih (b. 1981) joined Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood in 1995 and the al-Qassam Brigades in 2004.10
- Nasser Abdallah al-Ghara (b. 1962) joined Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood in 1989, and in 2004 he joined the al-Qassam Brigades. He was active in the engineering unit that was engaged in preparing explosive charges.11
- Nahez Salim abu-Namous (b. 1989) joined the al-Qassam Brigades in 2007 and underwent infantry and mortar training.12
- Hussam Muhammed al-Majaida (b. 1982) joined Hamas in 2004 and a year later the al-Qassam Brigades. He was active in the Executive Force of the Palestinian Police established by Hamas in 2006.13
- Hassan Maher Hassan Aruk (b. 1985) was active in the al-Qassam Brigades and was stationed in front-line positions.14
No “Friendly” Fire Incidents Among Palestinians
The Palestinian terror organizations reported on the intensive fighting they conducted against IDF forces within densely populated urban areas of Gaza. There are reports about the launching of many hundreds of mortar shells in populated Palestinian areas, the launching of antitank missiles at Palestinian houses entered by IDF forces, small arms fire and machine gun fire at IDF forces within Palestinian neighborhoods, the detonation of powerful explosive charges near Palestinian houses, booby-trapped houses, and setting explosive charges along transportation arteries.
Nevertheless, I have yet to encounter a single report about a Palestinian who was killed or even lightly wounded by “friendly” Palestinian fire. All the Palestinians killed and wounded were attributed exclusively to the IDF, while none of the human rights organizations speculate about this manifest miracle. On the other hand, in all of Israel’s wars, the IDF sustained a number of losses from “friendly” fire, including four out of the ten soldiers killed in the Gaza operation.
The charges made against the IDF for presumably killing “traffic cops” and “innocent policemen” fulfilling a civilian role are incorrect. The decisive majority of the Palestinian “police” were members of the military wings of the Palestinian terror organizations (primarily Hamas) and fighters who had undergone military training. The recruitment of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades members into the official security services allowed the Hamas government to pay their salaries out of the government budget.
The human rights organizations which reported on Palestinian casualties in the Gaza operation failed to mention the affiliation of hundreds of Palestinian security personnel who were members of terrorist organizations and who were trained fighters, thus artificially inflating the list of “civilians” killed by the IDF.
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A similar study on the 2008 fatalities has been completed and will be published shortly.
4. A table (in Hebrew) analyzing each name appears on the Jerusalem Center’s Hebrew website at: https://www.jcpa.org.il/JCPAHeb/SendFile.asp?DBID=1&LNGID=2&GID=475
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Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi is the research director for the Orient Research Group and a research fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Halevi previously served as a senior adviser for political planning in Israel’s Foreign Ministry and as head of the data and information branch in the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit. This Jerusalem Issue Brief is based on his report published in Hebrew on May 24, 2009.