Israeli Military Governorate

Israeli Military Governorate

הממשל הצבאי
Ha-Memšal Ha-Tsvaʾi
Flag of Military Governorate
of Military Governorate
Coat of arms
Territories following the 1967 War were subject to Israeli Military Governorate
Territories following the 1967 War were subject to Israeli Military Governorate
Common languagesHebrew (official),
GovernmentMilitary government
Commander of the Military Governorate 
• End of Six-Day War
10 June 1967
• Implementation of Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty
CurrencyIsraeli Lira
Preceded by Succeeded by
Jordanian annexation of the West Bank
Egyptian occupation of the Gaza Strip
North Sinai Governorate
South Sinai Governorate
Quneitra Governorate
Israeli Civil Administration
Northern District (Israel)
North Sinai Governorate
South Sinai Governorate

The Israeli Military Governorate was a military governance system established following the Six-Day War in June 1967, in order to govern the civilian population of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula and the Western part of Golan Heights. The governance was based on the Fourth Geneva Convention, which provides guidelines for military rule in occupied areas. East Jerusalem was the only exception from this order, and it was added to Jerusalem municipal area as early as 1967, and extending Israeli law to the area effectively annexing it in 1980. During this period, the UN and many sources referred to the military governed areas as Occupied Arab Territories.[1]

The Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty led Israel to give up the Sinai Peninsula in 1982 and transform the military rule in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank into the Israeli Civil Administration in 1981. The Western part of Golan Heights was unilaterally annexed by Israel from Syria the same year, thus abolishing the Military Governorate system entirely.


The Six-Day War began on June 5, 1967, with Israel launching surprise strikes against Egyptian air-fields in response to the mobilization of Egyptian forces on the Israeli border. A period of high tension had preceded the war. In response to PLO sabotage acts against Israeli targets,[2][3][4] Israel raided into the Jordanian-controlled West Bank[5][6] and initiated flights over Syria, which ended with aerial clashes over Syrian territory,[7] Syrian artillery attacks against Israeli civilian settlements in the vicinity of the border followed by Israeli responses against Syrian positions in the Golan Heights and encroachments of increasing intensity and frequency into the demilitarized zones along the Syrian border,[8] and culminating in Egypt blocking the Straits of Tiran,[9] deploying its troops near Israel's border, and ordering the evacuation of the U.N. buffer force from the Sinai Peninsula.[10][11]

Within six days, Israel had won a decisive land war. Israeli forces had taken control of the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria. The resulting expansion of territory led to the establishment of a military government on those territories to run the affairs of Arab populations falling under Israeli military rule. Overall, Israel's territory grew by a factor of three, including about one million Arabs placed under Israel's direct control in the newly captured territories. Israel's strategic depth grew to at least 300 kilometers in the south, 60 kilometers in the east, and 20 kilometers of extremely rugged terrain in the north, a security asset that would prove useful in the Yom Kippur War six years later.


Israeli soldiers in Bethlehem (Israeli Military Governorate) in 1978.

Effectively, from June 1967, Israel has exercised military rule in subjected territories of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights, based on the Fourth Geneva Convention, which specifies international law for military rule in occupied areas. East Jerusalem was the only exception from this order, and it was effectively added to Jerusalem municipal area as early as 1967, and extending Israeli law to the area (effectively annexing it).

Dissolution or Transformation

The military government's authority was effectively cancelled with the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty, which led it to give up the Sinai Peninsula in 1982 and rename the military rule in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank as the Israeli Civil Administration in 1981, which is run by the Israeli Ministry of Defense. The creation of a civil administration for the West Bank and Gaza Strip was included within the Camp David Accords signed by Egypt and Israel in 1978.[12] The nature of this civil administration body was defined in Military Order No. 947, by the 1981 military government of the West Bank and Gaza. The Western part of Golan Heights was effectively annexed to Israel the same year, thus abolishing the Military Governorate system entirely.

The West Bank

Even before the end of the 1967 June War, Israel invested all "powers of government, legislature, appointment and administration in relation to the region or its inhabitants" in the hands of the Military Governor.[13] General Chaim Herzog announced on 7 June 1967, that all previously existing laws would remain in force, save in cases where they conflicted with the rights of Israel as Occupying Power to ensure security for both its forces and public order. Israel justified the retention of what it considered the Jordanian maintenance of British occupation regulations, believing them consonant with Article 64 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which properly concern the treatment by a hostile power of the occupied population. The Jordanian position is that Israel is not heir to its laws in this regard in that they were abolished decades earlier. Called on to adjudicate between competing claims, the United Nations, in its Special Committee Report of 1970,[14] stated that the Mandatory Defence (Emergency) Regulations of 1945, which the British themselves subsequently repealed,[15] did not constitute a warrant for applying them to the Palestinian Territories since they were invalid, in conflicting with the protocols of the Fourth Geneva Convention.[a]

The Israeli Military Governorate instituted to rule the territories was dissolved in 1982 and replaced by the Israeli Civil Administration, which is actually an arm of the Israeli army. Set up in November 1981[17] under military order no. 947, it has a mandate which stipulates that the function of the body is to "administer the civil affairs in the area [West Bank]... for the welfare and benefit of the population and for provision and operation of public services, considering the need to maintain proper administration and public order in the area."[18] The creation of this new body unleashed a wave of protest in the first few months of 1982, repressing which caused more Palestinian casualties than had occurred in the preceding 15 years of occupation.[17] From 1967 to 2014, the Israeli administration issued over 1,680 military orders regarding the West Bank.[19] Though formally the IDF was obliged to be neutral, it was drawn into the politics of the conflict, caught between the administration of the occupied people and the defense of settlements,[20] which were originally thought of as a military burden whose defense should be left to the settlers,[21] but whose early militias were salaried, trained, and furnished with arms by the IDF,[22] which now operates to defend them.[23]

By the time of the Oslo Accords, 47% of West Bankers were refugees, and 11% of the total population dwelt in refugee camps.[24] As part of Ariel Sharon's strategy,[25] the Civil Administration had extended to all areas of the West Bank the Village Leagues (rawabit al-qura) originally developed only for the Hebron area in 1978. These were used to circumvent direct political representation.[26] Elections themselves, even for union officials, had been banned in the wake of the 1976 municipal elections which turned in an overwhelming majority of nationalist candidates, and most of the mayors where eventually dismissed, with some suffering deportation.[27] The Village Leagues by contrast were supposed to resolve disputes and promote rural development, but stoked peasant resentments against Palestinian urban centres and were manned, according to George Bisharat, with men from the lower middle class many of whom had reputations for laziness and criminal pursuits, who were harshly criticized as quislings collaborating with Israel, which furnished them with militias and Uzi machine guns that they purportedly used to intimidate civilians.[26][28]

In the Accord, Palestinian authorities were given a limited zone of autonomy in a restricted number of areas. Various analysts have argued that the agreement saw Israel outmanoeuvring the local Palestinian delegation, which had led the Intifada, by getting the PLO representatives abroad to relinquish demands the West Bank and Gaza opposition insisted on – an end to settlements and the formation of a Palestinian state – and thereby securing their own return. They were thus allowed to assume political and economic authority within the territories which they had never managed to achieve alone.[b] Thus the Palestinian Authority itself is often viewed as a Quisling regime,[30] or Israel's proxy, since Israel remains in total control of all three zones. Peter Beinart calls it Israel's "subcontractor".[c] For Edward Said, Meron Benvenisti and Norman Finkelstein, the agreement merely delegated to the PLO a role as "Israel's enforcer", continuing the occupation by "remote control", lending a form of legitimacy to Israel's claims to possess "rights" in what then became in its view "disputed territories", despite the international consensus Israel was under an obligation to withdraw from all of the land it held as occupying power. In Finkelstein's reading, it ratified an extreme version of the Allon Plan.[32][d] Others speak of Israel outsourcing the occupation.[34]

The Palestinian Authority also underwrote an agreement which absolved Israel of liability for recompense for all omissions to, or violations of, its obligations as an occupying power committed during the previous three decades of Israeli military rule. Indeed, were Israel convicted of any crime for that period, the burden of Israel paying reparations would fall on the Palestinian authorities who would be obligated to reimburse Israel.[35] The Accords further weakened the Palestinian cause, it has been argued, because it undermined the strength of the Palestinian position by transforming negotiations into endless bargaining between unequal parties.[e]

In an analysis by the Israeli think tank Molad in 2017, it is noted that Israel deploys from 50% to 75% of its active IDF forces in the West Bank. The deployment consists of seven regional brigades, assisted by auxiliary combat battalions, together with Israel's Border Police, the IAF and various special units. Their function is not to counter what Israel defines as terrorism – only 20% perform that task – but to defend settlements, which require 80% of those reserves to undertake guard duty.[37] In Hebron alone some 2,000 soldiers, an entire infantry division, together with 3 border police companies, serve in rotation to protect the settlement of from 500 to 800 Israelis established in that city.[38][39] Molad's conclusion is that defending settlements has a negative impact on Israel's security.[f]

See also


  1. ^ Report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting Human Rights of the Population of the Occupied Territories, Palestine International Documents on Human Rights 1948-1972., UN General Assembly, 26 October 1970, UN Doc. A/8089, p. 19.[16]
  2. ^ "two contemporaneous negotiations began to take place. On the one side, in 1992-1993, the Israeli government talked to the 'winner' of the confrontation, that is to say the Palestinians from the OPT, through bilateral meetings held in the US. On the other side, in 1993, Israel decided to negotiate with the PLO, without the Palestinians from the OPT even being informed. Finally, it was far away from the OPT and was at risk of losing its control of the Palestinian population living under the Israeli occupation. Obviously, the PLO was a weaker and softer negotiator compared with the Palestinians from the OPT. With the Oslo Agreements, the PLO relinquished at least two fundamental demands: the Israeli recognition of the existence of a Palestinian state and the interruption of construction of new Israeli settlements in the OPT. In exchange for these renunciations the PLO leadership was allowed to go back to the OPT and establish the Palestinian Authority (PA), and it was given a relevant economic and political power that it would never have been able to achieve otherwise."[29]
  3. ^ "the PA is not a government; it is a government's subcontractor."[31]
  4. ^ 'the "Authority" exists essentially to serve Israel's occupation and to help maintain it'.[33]
  5. ^ "Why did this negotiation not lead to a sustainable peace? According to the model we have analysed in the first part of the article, confrontation should have allowed the weaker party in a conflict (i.e., the Palestinians) to strengthen itself so as to force the stronger party (i.e., the Israelis) to begin negotiating. However, the negotiation phase represented an interruption in this process of growing power balance. The Israelis succeeded in transforming the negotiations — later the Oslo Agreements — into a never-ending process of bargaining, while the Palestinians failed to create the embryo of a functioning and democratic state. The power balance started to drop off again (last downward arrow), and this led to a new confrontation in September 2000."[36]
  6. ^ "Israel's top defense experts agree that while the settlements may have helped national security in the past, this is no longer the case. Having Israeli civilians living throughout the West Bank does not help defend the country; instead, it encumbers the security forces, is a drain on the national defense budget, and complicates the military's work by lengthening the lines of defense. Instead of concentrating on fighting terrorism against Israel, security forces have to divert considerable resources to protecting citizens who have chosen to live in the heart of Palestinian territory." [40]


  1. ^ Israeli Practices and Human Rights In Occupied Arab Territories
  2. ^ Israel, Army and Defense: A Dictionary, Zeev Schiff & Eitan Haber, editors, Zmora, Bitan, Modan, 1976, Tel Aviv Hebrew
  3. ^ Rubin, Barry M. (1994). Revolution Until Victory?: The Politics and History of the PLO. Harvard University Press. p. 11. ISBN 9780674768031.
  4. ^ Middle East: Incident at Samu, Time, Nov. 25, 1966
  5. ^ Tessler, Mark (1994). A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. John Wiley & Sons. p. 378. ISBN 978-0253208736. Towards the War of June 1967: Growing tensions in the region were clearly visible long before Israel's November attack on Samu and two other West Bank towns. An escalating spiral of raid and retaliation had already been set in motion...
  6. ^ Shemesh, Moshe (2007). Arab Politics, Palestinian Nationalism and the Six Day War: The Crystallization of Arab Strategy and Nasir's Descent to War, 1957–1967. Sussex Academic Press. p. 118. ISBN 978-1845191887. The Jordanian leadership's appraisal of the repercussions of the Samu' raid was a major factor in King Husayn's decision to join Nasir's war chariot by signing a joint defense pact with Egypt on May 30, 1967. This was the determining factor for Jordan's participation in the war that would soon break out.... Convinced after the Samu' raid that Israel's strategic goal was the West Bank, Husayn allied himself to Nasir out of a genuine fear that, in a comprehensive war, Israel would invade the West Bank whether or not Jordan was an active participant.
  7. ^ Maoz, Zeev (2009). Defending the Holy Land: A Critical Analysis of Israel's Security and Foreign Policy. The University of Michigan Press. p. 242. ISBN 978-0472033416.
  8. ^ Maoz, Zeev (2009). Defending the Holy Land: A Critical Analysis of Israel's Security and Foreign Policy. The University of Michigan Press. p. 84. ISBN 978-0472033416. By the fall of 1966 and spring of 1967, things seemed to be getting out of hand. Israeli-initiated encroachments into the demilitarized zones (DMZ) along the Syrian border became more frequent and intense. Israeli leaders made repeated statements to the effect that the Syrian regime was directly responsible for the border clashes and that Israel may act directly against the Syrian regime
  9. ^ The Encyclopedia of the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Political, Social, and Military History. ABC-CLIO. 2008. Retrieved 2013-05-13.
  10. ^ Bar-On, Mordechai (2004). A Never-Ending Conflict: A Guide To Israeli Military History. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 181. ISBN 978-0275981587.
  11. ^ Shlaim, Avi (2012). The 1967 Arab-Israeli War: Origins and Consequences. Cambridge University Press. p. 106. ISBN 9781107002364. Nasser responded by taking three successive steps that made war virtually inevitable: he deployed his troops in Sinai near Israel's border on 14 May; expelled the UNEF from the Gaza Strip and Sinai on 19 May; and closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping on 22 May.
  12. ^ Schmidt, Yvonne (2001). Foundations of Civil and Political Rights in Israel and the Occupied Territories. GRIN Verlag. p. 348. ISBN 978-3-638-94450-2.[self-published source]
  13. ^ Selby 2003a, p. 127.
  14. ^ Goldstein 1978, pp. 36–37.
  15. ^ Playfair 1988, p. 411.
  16. ^ Goldstein 1978, p. 37.
  17. ^ a b Pieterse 1984, p. 63.
  18. ^ EU 2012, p. 221.
  19. ^ Francis 2014, p. 391.
  20. ^ Peri 2006, pp. 4–6,28–32,228.
  21. ^ Gazit 2003, p. 287, n.37.
  22. ^ Eldar & Zertal 2007, p. 319.
  23. ^ Swirski 2010, p. 32.
  24. ^ Stockton 1990, p. 91.
  25. ^ Kimmerling 2003, p. 76.
  26. ^ a b Pieterse 1984, p. 62.
  27. ^ Playfair 1988, p. 409.
  28. ^ Bisharat 2012, pp. 66–67.
  29. ^ Gallo & Marzano 2009, pp. 10–11.
  30. ^ Parsons 2005, p. 256.
  31. ^ Beinart 2014.
  32. ^ Finkelstein 2003, p. 172.
  33. ^ Khalidi 2013, p. 118.
  34. ^ Handel 2010, p. 267.
  35. ^ Finkelstein 2003, p. 174.
  36. ^ Gallo & Marzano 2009, p. 10.
  37. ^ Gordis & Levi 2017, pp. 6,15.
  38. ^ Kamrava 2016, p. 85.
  39. ^ Gordis & Levi 2017, p. 16.
  40. ^ Gordis & Levi 2017, p. 4.


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