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Thursday, October 5, 2000
THE TENZIM: FATAH'S FIGHTERS ON THE GROUND

(Article by Ronni Shaked, Yediot Ahronot, 3.THE TENZIM: FATAH'S FIGHTERS ON THE GROUND


(Article by Ronni Shaked, Yediot Ahronot, 3.10.2000, p. B8)

"The main foci of violence over the weekend were along the separation
lines, mainly near IDF positions. Most of the activity was led by the
men of the Tenzim, the Fatah organization's military wing."

The Tenzim ("organization" in Arabic) is Fatah's field activity wing.
It is a kind of quasi-military militia, whose members see themselves as
being in the vanguard, mainly in initiating and organizing
demonstrations and confrontations against Israel. Additional goals are:
organizing young people in nationalistic frameworks and prime their
hearts for nationalist activities in the framework of the Fatah
organization.

The Tenzim have tens of thousands of members, most of them residents of
the [Palestinian Authority] territories, "graduates of the intifada".
Every Fatah member who was imprisoned in Israel belongs to the Tenzim.
The organization is led by former intifada commanders, who serve on the
Tenzim's supreme committee. Marwan Bargouti from Ramallah, who is also
a member of the Legislative Council, is considered the Tenzim's
commander.

Members of the Tenzim are under the control of the organization's
commanders, from whom - and not from Arafat or Palestinian Authority
officials - they receive their orders. Arafat maintains ongoing links
with the Tenzim's commanders, finances the organization and uses its
members as a militia in confrontations with Israel, including armed
confrontations. This is why Arafat, to Israel's disdain, does not
disarm the Tenzim. Many Tenzim members operate in the framework of
Jibril Rajoub's security apparatus, mainly as field commanders.

The Tenzim has tens of thousands of weapons of all kinds - from pistols
to machine guns. Some of the weapons have been given to the Tenzim by
the Palestinian Authority, some has been gathered over the years and
some has been purchased from various sources, including from the Israeli
underworld. "When the state is established, the Tenzim will become a
political party and it will hand over its weapons to the state's legal
authorities," Marwan Bargouti has said on numerous occasions.

The Tenzim has branches in every neighborhood, village, refugee camp and
high school. Most of the Tenzim's force are adult Palestinian men, aged
20-35, in the [Palestinian Authority] territories. The organization's
strongest branches operate within the universities. Therefore,
Bethlehem, Bir Zeit and An-Najah (in Nablus) University students have
been at the forefront of the demonstrations and confrontations. During
summer holidays, the organization operates summer camps, which include
weaponry instruction and military training. The Tenzim also holds
self-defense, first aid and civil defense courses on a regular basis.

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