Israel and the World
Fatah, headed by Yasser Arafat, joined the PLO in 1968 and won the leadership role in 1969. Fatah carried out numerous acts of international terrorism in western Europe and the Middle East in the early-to middle 1970s. The most famous acts of terrorism was the PLOs murder of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
September 5, 1972, eight Arab terrorists met in Munichs Olympic Village. After killing 2 Israelis, they took 9 Israeli athletes as hostages. The terrorists -- Palestinians belonging to a PLO faction called Black September -- demanded that Israel release 200 Arab prisoners and that the terrorists be given safe passage out of Germany. After hours of tense negotiations, the Palestinians agreed to a plan whereby they were to be taken by helicopter to a NATO air base at Firstenfeldbruck and then given an airplane to fly them and their hostages to Cairo. After the helicopters landed at the NATO air base, German sharpshooters attempted to kill the terrorists and a bloody firefight ensued. One of the helicopters holding the Israelis was blown up by a terrorist grenade. The remaining hostages in the second helicopter were shot to death by one of the surviving terrorists. Five of the terrorists were killed and three were captured. A little over a month later, on Oct. 29, a Lufthansa jet was hijacked by terrorists demanding that the Munich killers be released. The Germans capitulated and the terrorists were let go. Later, an Israeli assassination squad killed most of those involved in the terrorist plot. However, the mastermind of the massacre, Abu Daoud, remained at large. The massacre of 11 Israeli athletes was not considered sufficiently serious to merit canceling or postponing the Olympics. "Incredibly, they're going on with it," Jim Murray of the Los Angeles Times wrote at the time. "It's almost like having a dance at Dachau."
In 1993, Arafat signed the Declaration of Principles (DOP) with Israel and renounced terrorism and violence. For years following this agreement, this group did not authorize any terrorist operations.
In 1995, Yasser Arafat and Fatah leadership created the Tanzim Military wing. The purpose of Tanzim was to act as a quasi-military force to offset the growing power of the Palestinian Islamist groups, such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Over time, the Tanzim also evolved into a counterweight to the Fatahs own security forces. The PA security forces, the domain of PLO officials who returned from exile in Arab countries, were considered outsiders, corrupt, and more interested in personal wealth than in the Palestinian cause. In contrast, the Tanzim came to be considered the stronghold of the insiders and representative of the common Palestinian in the street.
Tanzim maintains a no-compromise position on the peace process, in contrast to the, at least outwardly, more moderate Palestinian Authority position. The group proposes a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood.
One of Tanzims goals is to create a self-sufficient Palestinian state. They claim that a self-sufficient state must have youth that are active in nationalistic and political activities. Tanzim operates summer camps, which include weaponry instruction and military training, as well as regular self-defense, first aid and civil defense courses. Tanzim claims to have provided military training to thousands of Palestinian youth.
Tanzim members were active in the Tunnel Riots of September 1996 and the Nakba riots of May 2000. When Camp David peace talks failed in July 2000, Tanzim was at the forefront of violent demonstrations, called the Al-Aksa Intifada, that erupted. As this Al-Aksa intifada evolved from a demonstrations into terrorist attacks, Tanzim fighters carried out ambushes of civilian vehicles and bombings in Israeli cities.
Towards the end of 2000, Arafat ordered the release of imprisoned Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants. In addition, Hamas was invited to join the Palestinian Authoritys governing body. The invitation was not accepted, but a new level of cooperation between Fatah and Hamas began to take shape. Soon, cocktail cells, consisting of members of Tanzim, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, began to carry out terrorist actions against Israeli civilians, including road ambushes and bombings.
Between September 2000 and March 2001, Fatah's Tanzim and the Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades have taken responsibility for more than 300 terror attacks in which Israeli civilians were killed.
Tanzim is financially supported in its day-to-day activities by the Palestinian Authority. According to the Israeli daily, Yediot Ahronot, the annual budget of the organization is $2.4 million, allocated directly from the PA coffers by Yasser Arafat. Although Arafat finances Tanzim activities and is personally involved in the selection of Tanzim leaders, he maintains that the activities of the organization are beyond his control. Marwan Barghouti is the head of the Tanzim and secretary general of Fatah in the West Bank.
More on Tanzim
~ Lisa Katz