The Challenge of
collecting weapons in the PA
The misuse of weapons is a serious issue within Palestinian society.
The control of such weapons is not solely an Israeli interest or a
necessity to establish a bargaining position for negotiations toward an
independent state. The Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group
(PHRMG) collects data on gun-related violence between Palestinians
(www.phrmg.org). Since 1995, at least 151 people have been killed in
West Bank and Gaza Strip through the use of unregistered firearms.
In addition, there have been at least 73 vigilante killings of accused
collaborators since the start of the al-Aqsa
September 29, 2000.
June 11, 2003, PHRMG issued a press release condemning the idea of
paying for illegal weapons as this would reward and encourage weapons
traders in the black market. We are pleased that this program was
widely criticized and abandoned. The process of collecting illegal
weapons from militant groups is certainly a formidable challenge.
Efforts should be made to encourage all sectors of Palestinian society
to seek their political objectives through a fair and open political
The Jerusalem Times reported on July 17,
2003 that it had received a joint statement of Hamas
and Islamic Jihad asserting that Palestinian security forces have
started a campaign that aims to disarm the Palestinian resistance in
Gaza. That statement "accus[es] the Palestinian
Authority (PA) of giving in to Israeli and U.S. pressure [to] disarm militants" (The Jerusalem Times,
July 17, 2003).
PHRMG commends the PA for beginning this
process which, if carried through, will help eliminate the serious
problem of gun-related violence between Palestinians and allow for the
development of a democratic society that follows the rule of law.
PHRMG looks forward to a well-governed
Palestinian state that is transparent and upholds the rule of law. To
achieve such a government, democratically elected institutions must
have enough power to implement policies and prevent competing
organizations from shaping the political and diplomatic landscape. When
a government has a near monopoly on the use of force, citizens seek to
influence policy through political participation and persuasion. When
non-democratic organizations influence policy through violence, they
essentially disempower the majority of
citizens whose means of influencing society is more peaceful and
Founder and director of the Palestinian
Human Rights Monitoring Group (PHRMG)