Shortly after the occupation of the Gaza Strip in November 1956, Israeli security forces began tackling local resistance to the new rule. The documents below provide a glimpse into the work of Israeli intelligence agencies in Gaza. They show how intelligence and enforcement agencies deployed throughout the area and how they cooperated, and allow a glimpse into their operation. The documents also paint a picture of Palestinian resistance to the military during Israel’s first occupation of the Gaza Strip.
The National Movement in the Gaza Strip: Manifesto No. 1
Hebrew translation of the first manifesto issued by the National Movement in Gaza.
The National Movement in the Gaza Strip: Manifesto No. 2
Hebrew translation of the second manifesto issued by the National Movement in Gaza.
December 20, 1956: Matters for the Attention of the Gaza Area Military Administration
This is an addendum sent by the GOC Central Command to the minutes of a meeting held in his office in December 1956.
Some of the issues addressed in the document are the deployment of a General Security Service (Shin Beth) “secret intelligence network” inside Gaza; establishing cooperation between the military and the Israel Police against smugglers in the region; conducting a census in the area (the word “occupied” was crossed out with a pen) and the “transfer” of prisoners and Egyptian families.
11. The underground in Gaza area
Paragraph 11 in the minutes of the meeting between the military commander of the Gaza Strip, Lt.-Col. Chaim Gaon and OC Central Command Tzvi Tzur deals with “the underground in Gaza area”. Its activity is described as distributing manifestos, “incitement” that includes “spreading of rumors among the population” and “deliberately influencing the intelligentsia” against the Israeli rule. A number of measures were agreed to confront the underground, including “to increase number of collaborators among the Muslims and acquire Christians as a Fifth Column. To smear the reputations of people suspected to be hostile and spread rumors about them using the representatives, for example. To continue the arrest of individuals and only small groups when necessary, to enlarge the Shin Beth apparatus, so it will be capable to identify centers of hostile circles.”
Minutes of meeting held Jan. 3 regarding coordination between GSS commander and commander of Gaza Strip
Two months after the occupation of the Gaza Strip by the IDF, procedures for coordination and cooperation between the GSS base in Gaza and the Gaza Strip commander were established.
One of the issues covered in the document is priorities for GSS action on matters under its purview: espionage and other clandestine activity, as well as nationalist and communist activity and activity influenced by “intelligence or party elements outside Israel”.
Coordination meeting at office of Gaza Area commander, 13 Jan., 1957
This is the summary of a coordination meeting on the Gaza Strip held on January 13, 1957. Meeting participants were informed that “Terrorism and incitement” were on an increasing trend. It was noted that, “the authorities’ lenient treatment of the offenders and the UN forces’ advance toward al-Arish encouraged demonstrations”. Meeting participants were also told that “orders were issued to prepare to disperse demonstrations, whether with water canons, assault dogs or using sticks…” A decision was made to increase GSS activity in the area with the clarification that should resistance escalate further “we will have to use collective punishment such as prolonged curfew and disruption of services […]. Every effort must be made to prevent wide publication of such actions”.
Other sections of the document address the establishment of a Nahal outpost (an IDF base designated to become a civilian settlement later) in the Gaza Strip (2,000 residents were to be displaced from the area designated for the “Rafah Settlement”). On the issue of handling absentees’ property, the document assesses the diplomatic fallout expected should an order regulating it be issued vis-à-vis the expected economic damage generated from not using this property.
January 20, 1957 : Attempt to organize strike in Gaza
On January 20, 1957, a police officer wrote a summary of the actions taken by security forces given an attempt to organize a strike in Gaza.
The document describes the discovery of a group of people who had posted pamphlets issued by the National Movement. The interrogation of the two pamphlet posters led to the arrest of seven more people. The author of the document notes personal, sometimes intimate, details about the detainees.
National Movement: Manifesto No. 4
Copy of the fourth manifesto issued by the National Movement in Gaza (Arabic).
27 January, 1957: Subversive activity in the Gaza area
A document prepared by Unit 50 of the GSS provides a review of increasing resistance to Israeli occupation in the Gaza Strip, and reports about GSS action on this issue. The review lists the main reasons for increased resistance and its various manifestations, including strikes, pamphlet distribution and graffiti.
According to the document, the focus of organized resistance was the National Movement. It is described as a communist initiative, which had joined forces with “nationalist elements” and the Muslim Brotherhood. This special cooperation, the document states, was an attempt to unite various factions in the struggle against Israeli rule.
The document states the GSS had decided on the “immediate elimination” of the movement’s activity in the Gaza Strip, and that it had made three arrest raids among some 40 activists identified as having connections to the movement. The Unit 50 chief concludes by stating that even when the security service manages to eliminate organized resistance to Israeli rule, “various small circles of the intelligentsia” will continue to resist foreign rule “so long as the current circumstances enabling their activity prevail”.