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Fatah Tanzim

Historical description

Fatah Tanzim was established in 1995 as the militant wing of Yasser Arafat's Fatah organization. Arafat created the group to help maintain his base of support among Palestinian extremists, many of whom have been drifting toward Islamist groups such as Hamas in recent years. Since the beginning of the current Intifada, or uprising, Fatah Tanzim has also provided Arafat with a means to direct attacks on Israeli targets without involving the security forces of the Palestinian Authority.

Estimated size

The Tanzim claims to have over ten thousand members. This is difficult to confirm, but it is clearly a large organization.

Regional strongholds

Gaza, Ramallah and other West Bank towns

Names of key leaders

Marwan Barghouti, Hachem Balawy, Ahmad Chiles


Fatah Tanzim's goal is the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. Its leaders are hawkish and aggressive toward Israel, but do not call for Israel's destruction.

Targets of their actions and why

Since the beginning of the current Intifada, Tanzim has specialized in high profile attacks against Israeli targets, partially for strategic advantage, but primarily as part of a broader attempt to pressure Israel into granting more concessions to the Palestinians. Tanzim has also engaged in occasional confrontations with Hamas and Palestinian security forces.

Common types of crimes they perpetrate

Bombings, Mob Lynchings, Shootings

Funding and association

While Fatah Tanzim is technically independent of the Palestinian Authority, in reality it re- ceives most of its funding directly from the PA. According to Israeli newspapers, Tanzim's budget is approximately two and one half million dollars per year.

Geographic areas of operation

Fatah Tanzim members participated in the wave of attacks against Israeli targets in late 2001, including most notably an attack on a bus in the West Bank that killed ten people and injured over thirty. During this wave of attacks, members of Tanzim are believed to have worked closely with members of Hamas, and possibly Hizbollah, in coordinating activities. Fatah Tanzim is also believed to be responsible for the formation of numerous militia groups in the first months of 2002. The group maintained a steady stream of attacks in 2002 in the form of shootings and suicide bombings. Attacks briefly slowed in early April 200 as the Israeli army intensified its counter-terrorism op- erations, but quickly resumed with the April 10, 2002 suicide bombing on a Haifa bus, killing 8 and injuring many others. Another suicide bomb attack, which is believed to have been a joint effort by Fatah Tanzim and Hamas, killed 19 and injured 40 (mostly high school students) on a Jerusalem bus on June 18, 2002.

Most notable activity(ies)

Since the beginning of the current Intifada, Tanzim members have been responsible for a large number of attacks on Israeli civilians, as well as numerous confrontations with Israeli security forces. In January 2002 Israel intercepted a very large shipment of weapons bound for the Palestinian Authority, most of which was likely intended for Fatah.

Significant dates

Fatah activity occurs very frequently, but is likely to increase immediately after the killing of any Palestinian leaders.


The government of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon responds to Fatah actions with direct action against the Palestinian Authority, assuming that Arafat will rein in Tanzim if the Israelis apply enough pressure. It is unclear, however, how much control Arafat retains over Fatah Tanzim. Nevertheless, the Israelis have achieved some success against the group. April and May 2002 roundups by security forces of several of Fatah Tanzim's leaders and operatives may have prevented some attacks. Even so, the group continues as a viable organization and further attacks are anticipated.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 15:40:39 ZULU