Young radicals who fuel violence

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The Independent Online

The Palestinian uprising that has plunged the Middle East into violence is undoubtedly driven by deep and genuine anger on the streets of the West Bank and Gaza.

The Palestinian uprising that has plunged the Middle East into violence is undoubtedly driven by deep and genuine anger on the streets of the West Bank and Gaza.

But there is a powerful organisation, harnessing some of this emotion and it is Tanzim - the militia of Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organisation - whose membership are young, radical and increasingly willing to fight shoulder to shoulder with the Islamic militants from Hamas, who remained opposed to the Oslo peace accords.

They have considerable resources at their disposal - and a sharp sense of the art of propaganda, first perfected in the six-year intifada, when Israel's military might was constantly thwarted by the harrowing impact of small children throwing stones, and then being shot at.

Since the intifada, a new generation of Tanzim activists has grown up, bred in the frenzied atmosphere of Palestinian refugee camps and Israeli jails. But they have also grown up in close proximity to the corruption of Mr Arafat's Palestinian Authority, whose upper echelons are regarded as sell-outs to the national cause.

Chief among the skills of the Tanzim is getting crowds out on to the streets, among them crazed young youths willing to dance within range of the Israeli snipers and die for Islamic martyrdom.

As long as two years ago, there were concerns in Israel that the Tanzim were beginning to challenge the authority of Mr Arafat's plethora of security forces. It is now clear that they are not fully under Mr Arafat's control, and certainly not under the control of his policemen.

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