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Repression

Killed in action / Photo Fanack
Killed in action / Photo Fanack

In addition, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad instigated a series of suicide bombings on civilian targets in Israel after 1994. This was after an Israeli settler in the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron had shot dead a number of worshipers and injured many others. With these suicide attacks, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad put Arafat and his colleagues in an awkward predicament: Israel and the United States demanded that the PNA dismantle both organizations, but that brought the risk of civil war. Moreover, it would taint the PNA with the stigma of being Israel’s subcontractor in security issues. All the more so as the Israeli occupation continued unabated – albeit it in a different form – and many Palestinians viewed armed resistance as justifiable.

Nevertheless, harsh measures were taken against Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. Earlier, Islamic and other critics of ‘Oslo‘ had already been arrested or intimidated; now there followed a large-scale campaign of arrests of members and supporters of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. Many of the detainees were tortured in PNA prisons, in some cases even leading to their deaths. Critical newspapers and magazines – not just those with an Islamic signature – were temporarily or permanently banned from publication. Of course, this paved the way to self-censorship, as it certainly had an intimidating effect.

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