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Palestinian Women in Terrorism: Protectors or Protected?

NCJ Number
Journal of National Defense Studies Issue: 6 Dated: May 2008 Pages: 83-112
Date Published
May 2008
30 pages
A study is presented of Palestinian women’s involvement in terrorism and how their security violations are handled by the Israeli justice system.
Palestinian women who participate in terrorism face unique limitations and consequences. Regardless of their role in terrorism, whether from playing a supportive or primary function to breaking free of restraining gender expectations, their experiences are vastly divergent from that of their male counterparts. Palestinian women also appear to be “doubly penalized” when arrested for both their security violations and for their deviance from traditional gender roles. Implications of the results of the study for Palestinian society are drawn and discussed. The inclusion of women in terrorism has a logistical weight in terrorist activity. The guiding principle is that gender, the construction of femininity and masculinity, carries special significance in the sphere of terrorism. The link of gender to notions of protection and danger, the foundation of patriarchal social order, makes it particularly relevant for Palestinian terrorism. Women’s participation in terrorism is perceived as undermining the moral foundation of Palestinian society. Understanding this dilemma and Palestinian women’s involvement in terrorism requires familiarity with the context in which women navigate their daily lives, and Palestinian social structure, culture, and politics. This study begins with a description of gender relations and women’s status in Palestinian society, and discusses the political context of their entry into terrorism. A methodology, data, and findings are then presented about Palestinian women’s experience with terrorism and its aftermath, their legal processing, and prison experiences. The study concludes with analysis of the implications of their involvement in terrorism for practice and theory. Notes, references

Date Published: May 1, 2008