The Israeli policing army: the gray arm of annexation

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This article aims at challenging the widely accepted argument that Israel has failed to enforce the law on Jewish communities in the West Bank. It argues instead that, since the 2000s, there has been a gradual creation of two armies within the Israel Defense Forces: alongside the ‘official’ army, a ‘policing’ force has emerged in the Israeli-controlled West Bank. Although it is ostensibly subordinate to formal political authority, it has become a quasi-militia force, relied on by both standing forces and local militias, executing a policy which often oversteps official procedures. Its main unofficial task is to entrench Israel’s grip on the West Bank in the form of informal annexation, without resorting to an internationally unacceptable formal annexation. Thus, this army operates in a grey manner, in a duality of official and unofficial forms of action, while claims about failure in law enforcement are what legitimize the duality of this structure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)376-396
Number of pages21
JournalBritish Journal of Middle Eastern Studies
Issue number2
Early online date2021
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 British Society for Middle Eastern Studies.

RAMBI publications

  • Israel -- Tseva haganah le-Yiśraʼel
  • Israelis -- West Bank
  • Law enforcement -- Israel
  • Military law -- West Bank
  • Arab-Israeli conflict
  • Palestinian Arabs -- Violence against
  • West Bank -- Politics and government


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