BTselem Report - Collaborators in the Occupied Territories Human

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BTselem Report - Collaborators in the Occupied Territories Human ...

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    B‟Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories

    Jerusalem, January 1994

    Collaborators in the Occupied Territories: Human Rights Abuses and Violations

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    8 Hata‟asiya St. (4th Floor),Talpiot, Jerusalem 93420, Tel. (02) 6735599, Fax (02) 6749111


Researched and Written by: Yizhar Be'er, Dr. Saleh 'Abdel-Jawad

    Fieldwork Assistants: Suha 'Arraf and Bassem 'Eid

    Assistance on writing of theoretical sections: Eitan Felner

    Edited by: Rachel Peretz

    Graphics: Dina Sher

    English: Jessica Bonn, Ralph Mandel, Ruth Morris, Shaul Vardi


     to the B'Tselem staff who worked days and nights to finish the report on schedule

     to B'Tselem board members Gila Svirsky, Ilana Hammerman, Stanley Cohen, and

    Avishai Margalit

     to Avi Katzman for his eye-opening comments

     to Eyal Benvenisti, Edy Kaufman, David Kretchmer and Yuval Karniel

     to Professor Robert Goldman, American University, Washington D.C.

     to Claudio Cordone, Amnesty International

     to Kenneth Ross and Eric Goldstein, Human Rights Watch

     to Neil Hicks, Lawyers Committee for Human Rights

     to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Hotline: Center for the Defense of

    the Individual

B'Tselem Staff and Board of Directors:

Chair, Board of Directors: Gila Svirsky

    Board Members: Amos Elon, Rabbi Ehud Bandel, Dr. Daphna Golan, Ilana Hammerman, Roni Talmor, Professor Stanley Cohen, Atty. Avigdor Feldman, Professor Paul Mendes-Flohr, Victor Shem-Tov

Executive Director: Yizhar Be‟er

    Staff: Jessica Bonn, Aaron Back, Tami Bash, Yuval Ginbar, Sheli Cohen, Bassem „Eid, Suha „Arraf, Eitan Felner, Sharon Roubach, Yael Stein, Iris Tamir




    1. Theoretical Underpinnings 10

    2. The Phenomenon of Collaboration 15

    3. Defining Collaboration in the Occupied Territories 16 4. Contents of the Report 19

    5. Clarifications 20



    1. The Military Government and the Residents of the Territories 26 2. The Collapse of Law and Order during the Intifada 29

     a. “Policing,” “Juridical,” and “Implementation” Operations by Militants 30

     b. Popular Justice and Arbitration 31 3. Recruitment of Collaborators 32

     a. Vital Services Conditional on Collaboration 33

     b. Recruitment of Suspects, Defendants, and Individuals Convicted

    of Criminal and Security Offenses 37

     c. Isqat 39

    4. Violence by Collaborators and Enforcement of the Law 44

     a. Follow-up on Legal Handling of Death Cases 53




    1. The Intelligence Agent ('amil al-mukhabarat) 59

    2. Collaborators in Prisons and Detention Facilities (al-'asfor) 63

    3. The Land Dealers (al-samsar) 71

    4. The Intermediary (al-wasit) 76

    5. Government Appointees and Associates 81

     a. Mukhtars 82

     b. Appointed Members of Village and Municipal Councils 83

     c. The Village Leagues 85

     d. Policemen 86

    6. Morality, Family Honor, and Collaboration 89

     a. Five Incidents of the Killing of Women in the Intifada 92



    1. The Torturing and Killing of Suspected Collaborators

     as a Human Rights Violation 103

    2. The Cells Involved in Torturing and Killing Suspected Collaborators 105

     a. The Black Panther and Red Eagle Cells in Nablus 107


     b. The Fatah Hawks Cell in Rafah 109

     c. The Red Eagle Cell in Khan Yunis: Testimony 116

     d. The Seif al-Islam Cell: Testimony 117

    3. The Use of Torture in Interrogations 120

    4. Types of Killing 123

     a. Killing On-The-Spot without Interrogation 123

     b. Killing in the Course of or at the End of Interrogation 126

     c. “People's Trials” 126

     d. Lynching 129

     e. Killings at Detention Facilities 132

    5. Forms of Punishment other than Killing 136

     a. Stigmatizing (tashwih) and Social Ostracism 136

     b. Corporal Punishment 136

     c. House Arrest (iqamah jabrayyah) 137

    6. Coordinating Information about Suspects 139

    7. Repentance 141

     a. Suspected Collaborators' Attempts to Clear their Name by Attacking Israelis 143 8. The Nusseirat Refugee Camp: Investigation of Attacks on Suspected Collaborators 145

     a. Breakdown of Suspicions leading to the Imposition of Punishment 146

     b. Breakdown of Punitive Actions by Organizational Affiliation of the Perpetrators 146

     c. Additional Figures on Suspects Punished 147

     d. Four Cases of Suspected Collaborators Killed at the Nusseirat Refugee Camp 148




    1. The PLO Affiliates 159

     a. The Intifada Period 160

     b. Internal PLO Criticism on the Killing of Collaborators 165

     c. Responsibility of the PLO Leadership for Killings of Suspected Collaborators by

     its Activists in the Occupied Territories - Policy and Enforcement 168

     d. After the Signing of the Israel-PLO Agreement 170

    2. The Approach of the Islamic Organizations 173

     a. Types of Collaborators 173

     b. Collaboration as Heresy against Islam 175

     c. Hamas Policy toward Collaborators 176



    1. Punitive Policy Toward Palestinians Suspected of Attacking Collaborators 186 2. Protection, Rehabilitation, and Assistance to Collaborators 188

     a. Protection and Rehabilitation in the Territories 190

     b. Rehabilitation in Israel 196

     c. Protection and Rehabilitation of Collaborators after the Israel-PLO Accord 199



    1. Palestinian Accountability 205

    2. Responsibility of the Israeli Government 207


    Appendix A - Interview with Faisal al-Husseini 213 Appendix B - B'Tselem's Appeal to the PLO 216 Appendix C - Interview with Sheikh Ahmad Yasin 219 Appendix D - Ministry of Justice Response to B'Tselem Report 228

    Appendix E - Professor Michael Harsigor - “Collaboration: A Historical Perspective” 230



    This report deals with the responsibility of Palestinian political organizations and their activists for the torture and killing of Palestinians suspected of collaborating with the Israeli authorities during the Intifada. It also addresses violations of human rights by the Israeli authorities in the recruitment and operation of collaborators in the territories.

    B'Tselem made extensive efforts, including hundreds of field investigations, to compile a full and accurate list of Palestinians who were killed for what the Palestinian political organizations call collaboration. However, because of the sensitivity of this subject in Palestinian society, eye-witnesses and relatives were often loath to provide full testimony about the circumstances of death. It has always been B'Tselem's practice, in cases where the available information is

    incomplete, not to provide unequivocal data. Consequently, we cite only the figures of the IDF Spokesman and of the Associated Press regarding the total number of Palestinians killed as suspected collaborators. However, in several places the report does cite partial data concerning various aspects of the subject, in cases where we were able to obtain satisfactory information.

    According to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Spokesperson, 942 Palestinians were killed by other Palestinians on suspicion of collaboration between December 9, 1987, when the Intifada erupted, 1and November 30, 1993. The Associated Press puts the number at 771.

According to data supplied to B'Tselem by the Ministry of Defense, between 35 and 40 percent

    of those killed were employed by the government, or were in some other way connected to one of the branches of the Israeli administration. The remainder of those killed had no connection to the 2government. Ten to 15 percent of these were killed for criminal activity, “especially in drugs and prostitution”; and a small number were killed “because they violated the „directives of the uprising‟” or, for example, sold pornographic video films in defiance of the orders of the Islamic 3organizations.

    Since 1967, the security forces have recruited tens of thousands of Palestinians from the territories to serve as collaborators. This was made possible in part by the great dependence of the Palestinians on services provided by the Israeli administration. In recruiting collaborators, the security forces used methods that contravene international law, such as providing certain services only on condition that the recipient cooperate with the authorities. They also resorted to extortion and pressure, and offered various inducements.

    The collaborators received preferential treatment from the authorities, and many of them took full advantage of their status. Collaborators, especially those who were armed, frequently used

    1 This figure was supplied via telephone from the IDF Spokesperson's office on January 5, 1994. 2 According to the Israel Police, in the pre-Intifada period there were an average of fifty murders a year for nonpolitical, criminal reasons, including killings within families to preserve family honor or for immoral behavior. See Medicine and Law, the journal of the Association for Medicine and Law in Israel, No. 8, May 1993.

    3 Haim Yisraeli, assistant to the minister of defense, in a letter to B'Tselem dated September 21, 1993. According

    to Palestinian journalist Zuheir a-Dabai, in an interview to The Jerusalem Post on May 8, 1992, at least 60 percent

    of those killed as suspected collaborators had no ties of any kind with the authorities.


    violence against other Palestinians, whether as part of their duties as collaborators or for personal motives. For these and other reasons, which are described in the report, broad sections of the Palestinian population fiercely objected to the activity of the collaborators.

    The vacuum created by the collapse of all systems of law-and-order in the territories (police, courts, and officers of the court) during the Intifada was filled by squads or cells identified with the various organizations, both Islamic and PLO-affiliated, which took it upon themselves to impose order. As such, among other activities, they set about punishing suspected collaborators. Punitive measures were also taken against Palestinians who did not serve the authorities as collaborators but who were defined as such because their behavior was considered harmful to the society or to the Palestinian struggle. During the Intifada, attacks on individuals who were branded collaborators obtained legitimation and even support from broad sections of the Palestinian population.

1. Theoretical Underpinnings

    Until now, B'Tselem has followed the traditional approach of human rights organizations: namely, to report and alert the public to those human rights violations committed exclusively by the authorities. In addition, as an Israeli organization, one of B'Tselem's main goals is to generate

    public discussion on the human rights violations committed by the government in the territories, in an effort to counter the denial and repression of the subject by the Israeli public. B'Tselem

    addresses issues which, in its view, do not receive adequate attention among the Israeli public in general, and the country's decision makers in particular.

    B'Tselem's decision to publish a report dealing primarily with violations of human rights by Palestinian groups is related to considerations which in recent years have been at the center of a reassessment undertaken by human rights organizations everywhere.

    The major question such organizations are asking is whether, in addition to their traditional role of dealing with human rights violations by governments, they should also report and alert the public to such infringements by armed opposition groups.

    The traditional orientation was predicated on several basic assumptions: it is the state which has the principal duty to protect the fundamental rights of the individual against a threat from other individuals, but the state is also the major potential violator of those rights. The state wields powerful enforcement mechanisms, such as police, courts, and army, and can use them to infringe basic human rights. Consequently, means must be created to limit the State's power. One of those means is a system of internationally recognized norms designed to safeguard individuals against the government's violation of their human rights.

    In many areas of the world, armed opposition groups demanding political recognition carry out executions without trial, as well as torture, kidnapping, and other grave actions. The fact that these same actions are considered violations of basic human rights when they are carried out by governments is one of the reasons that led human rights organizations to treat them in that light, rather than as purely criminal deeds.


In recent years, a commitment to human rights has become a virtual sine qua non for political

    legitimation. It is this quest for international recognition by armed opposition groups that has led 4and enabled the international community to call upon these groups to respect human rights.

    Some opposition groups have responded to the charges that they are violating human rights. The African National Congress in South Africa, for example, set up a commission of inquiry to investigate allegations of torture and other maltreatment of detainees in the ANC's camps in 5neighboring states. The commission's findings were made public. Furthermore, some opposition

    groups, including the ANC and the PLO, have requested the International Red Cross to consider them a party to the Geneva Convention.

    The prevailing tendency in the international community to give preponderence to a commitment to human rights where the granting of political legitimation is concerned, together with the demand by opposition groups for political recognition and their request for affiliation with international conventions, led human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and 6Human Rights Watch to begin monitoring the activity of such groups. At the same time, human

    rights activists in various countries -- including Israel, Egypt, Peru, El Salvador, and the Philippines -- urged their local community of human rights organizations to address violence 7perpetrated by armed opposition groups.

     4 In the words of Richard Claude and Burns Weston:

    "Today, the legitimacy of political regimes - hence their capacity to rule non-coercively - is judged less by the old standards of divine right, revolutionary heritage, national destiny, or charismatic authority, and more by new standards informed and refined by the language of international human rights." Richard Pierre Claude and Burns H. Weston, eds., Human Rights in the World Community: Issues and Action (Philadelphia: University of

    Pennsylvania Press, 1989), p. 10. 5 A representative of Amnesty International was invited to take part in some of the work of the commission of inquiry. Amnesty International: "Torture, Ill-Treatment and Executions in African National Camps," December 2, 1992 (AI Index: AFR 53/27/92). 6 Human Rights Watch has long been monitoring actions by bothgovernments and opposition groups, as the organization's reports show. See also: Aryeh Neier: "Monitoring Violations of the Laws of War in Internal Armed Conflicts; An Overview of Human Rights Watch's Involvement," Human Rights Watch (newsletter) 1990, 3:1-6;

    Human Rights Watch World Report 1992, pp. 22-23. Since 1982, Amnesty International has as a matter of

    principle condemned the torture and killing of prisoners by any side,

    including opposition groups. Following a prolonged internal debate, AI, at its annual meeting in 1991, decided to extend the organization's mandate to include the taking of hostages and deliberate and arbitrary killing by opposition groups. See: Amnesty International, Decision 5 of the 1991 International Council Meeting (AI Index: ORG 52/01/1991). 7 On Israel, see: Joshua Schoffman: "Is Human Rights Enforcement Only a Matter for Sovereign Nations?", The Jerusalem Post, August 23, 1989, p. 4. On Peru: Michael Shifter: "Derechos humanos - un nuevo enfoque," Debate, Vol. 12, No. 59 (March-April 1990), pp. 43-49; Richard Baure: "Human Rights and Terrorism in Peru: A Special Case," Swiss Review of World Affairs, April 1992, 13-17. On Egypt: Bahy a-Din Hassan: "Human Rights:

    No Special Pleading," al-Ahram Weekly, September 24-30, 1992. On the Philippines: Ramon Casiple: "National

    Liberation and Human Rights Advocacy in the Philippines: 'Five Propositions,'" Human Rights Forum, Vol. 1, pp.

    3-22. On El Salvador: "Editorial - La Comision de la Verdad," Estudios Centroamericanos, Vol. 512, pp. 519-538.


    The new trend is seen, for example, in the response of human rights organizations to operations of

    the Irish Republican Army in northern Ireland, the ANC in South Africa, Shining Path in Peru, 8and Palestinian organizations such as the PLO and Hamas. B'Tselem, too, has already

    condemned the killing of suspected Palestinian collaborators by other Palestinians; this, however, 9is the first comprehensive report on the subject.

    International law recognizes minimal obligations applicable to a non-state party to a conflict.

    Article 3, which is common to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, lays down principles

    limiting the activity of sides in a conflict which is not international. These principles can serve as

    minimal criteria for examining the attacks on suspected collaborators which are documented in

    this report.

    The first paragraph in Article 3 states:

     In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of

    one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as

    a minimum, the following provisions:

     (1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who

    have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention,

    or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse

    distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other

    similar criteria.

     To this end, the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place

    whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

     (a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment

    and torture;

     (b) taking of hostages;

     (c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;

     (d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment

    pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which

    are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

     8 On the condemnation by human rights organizations of attacks on Palestinians suspected of collaboration with

    Israel, see: Middle East Watch, Madrid Peace Conference: The Human Rights Record of the Principal

    Regional Parties, "Palestinian Leaders," pp. 21-23; Amnesty International Report 1993, pp. 168-171. 9 See: B'Tselem, Violations of Human Rights in the Territories 1990/91, p. 12.


    According to the interpretation of the Geneva Convention by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the article's provisions are binding on all sides to a conflict, not only on the signatories to the conventions. The article applies also to entities which are not states and are 10unable to assume international commitments. In the context of the present report, the PLO and

    the Islamic organizations in the territories constitute such entities. The PLO, as already mentioned, has sought affiliation as a party to the Geneva Conventions, and this can be seen as an expression 11of its readiness in principle to respect the basic tenets of the conventions. The deeds described

    in this report violate the provisions defined in Article 3, especially the absolute prohibition on torture and on execution without trial. These prohibitions are unqualified and apply to all sides under all circumstances. (See Part C, Chapter 1, below).

2. The Phenomenon of Collaboration

    Collaboration with a foreign conqueror who is perceived as an enemy is a phenomenon virtually as old as history itself - and so is the violence done to suspected collaborators. We do not intend

     10 A number of clarifications must be made regarding the applicability of Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions to the occupied territories:

    a. The Article applies only to an "armed conflict not of an international character," i.e. a conflict confined within the borders of a single state. Prima facie, it could be argued that the provisions of the Article do not apply to the

    specific context of the Intifada, as it is not an internal conflict. Nonetheless, the principles set forth in Common Article 3 have been recognized by the international community as of wider applicability than the original intention of the framers of the Geneva Conventions. The International Court of Justice ruled in Nicaragua v. the U.S.:

    Article 3... defines certain rules to be applied in the armed conflicts of a non-international character... . [I]n

    the event of international armed conflicts, these rules also constitute a minimum yardstick, in addition to the

    more elaborate rules which are also to apply to international conflicts...; they... reflect what the Court in 1949

    called "elementary considerations of humanity.... ."

    Because the minimum rules applicable to international and non-international conflicts are identical, there is

    no need to address whether those actions must be looked at in the context of the rules which operate for the

    one or for the other category of the conflict.

    (From Reports of Judgements, International Court of Justice (ICJ), 1986, ICJ Report p., 114, para. 218.)

    Moreover, some international law experts maintain that Article 3 applies in conflicts entailing national liberation, concerning which the First Protocol, which is appended to the 1949 Geneva Convention, is invalid. See M. Bothe, K. Partsch & W. Solf, New Rules for Victims of Armed Conflicts, Commentary on the Two 1977 Protocols

    Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, M. Nijhoff, The Hague, 1982, (discussion of art. 96, Prot. I); H.

    Wilson, International Law and Use of Force by National Liberation Movements, Clarendon Press, Oxford,

    1988, p. 169.

    b. Even if we treat the Intifada as an international conflict, it should be noted that the ICRC's interpretation of the Geneva Convention holds that the principles of Article 3 should be respected even more stringently in situations of a saliently international character. See Jean Pictet (ed.), Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of

    Civilian Persons in Time of War, ICRC, 1958, p. 38.

    c. The Geneva Conventions do not stipulate the degree of violence required for the application of Article 3, since there is no clear definition of the essence of an "armed conflict" according to that article. It is, therefore, arguable that the intensity of the acts of violence perpetrated by the two sides in the Intifada is not great enough to be called an "armed conflict." However, the ICRC's commentary maintains that the principles of this article "should apply as widely as possible." Pictet, ibid., p. 36. Similarly, a commission of experts determined that "the existence of an armed conflict, within the meaning of Article 3, cannot be denied if the hostile action, directed against the legal government is of a collective character and consists of a minimum amount of organization." ICRC, “Commission

    of Experts for the Study of the Question of Aid to the Victims of Internal Conflicts” (1962), p. 3. 11 Paul Lewis, "PLO Seeks to Sign 4 UN Treaties on War," The New York Times, August 9, 1989.


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