Police Encounters
Security and Surveillance in Gaza under Egyptian Rule
Ilana Feldman


Contents and Abstracts
Introduction: Security Society in Gaza
chapter abstract

This chapter describes the political, social, and security conditions in the Gaza Strip during the period of Egyptian rule and in the aftermath of the displacement and dispossession of much of the Palestinian population. It introduces and explains the "security society" that developed as the Egyptian Administration deployed an expansive policing apparatus. Security society was a field of both governance and action. The police used surveillance, suspicion, and informing to control politics, propriety, and illegality. And people sometimes worked with these same techniques to try to influence government policy and other people's behavior. Policing shaped relations among people and between people and their governors. The chapter also describes the rich, detailed, and unique archival record that is the source for this study.

1 Cultivating suspicion and participation
chapter abstract

This chapter explores how the Egyptian Administration established its expansive police presence in Gaza. It describes the articulation of a project of participation, where Palestinians were called upon, a request backed by coercive threat, to assist in this policing both by informing about others' behavior and by governing themselves. Policing also required, and equally was required by, a condition of suspicion. That is, police needed to be everywhere because they viewed everybody with suspicion, and their ability to engage the public sufficiently to let them be everywhere required making sure that this suspicion was widely shared. The chapter describes the police forces and practices that the Administration developed to support its security agenda.

2 Uses of surveillance and informing
chapter abstract

This chapter explores the signal importance of surveillance and informing in the policing of Gaza. No space or moment was deemed beyond the interest of the police. Given this expansiveness, it was inevitable that often as not surveillance provided little or no information about either criminal or political activity. Widespread surveillance was an important technique for controlling behavior. The chapter also explores the often unanticipated ways that techniques designed for control also created avenues for people to influence government policy and practice. Not only could generating suspicion about other people be a means of getting things done for oneself, the government's concerns about the population and the threat it could pose made it responsive to some of the desires that circulated among that population.

3 Reputation, investigation, and criminal interdiction
chapter abstract

This chapter describes the work of criminal interdiction, focusing on smuggling, petty crime, "honor" crimes, and police corruption. The work of crime control illuminates with particular clarity how the details of police practice brought police and public into close relation. And in this, reputation, of people and of police, was central. Reputation was mentioned in nearly every investigation of an individual, whether that person was targeted as a suspect or a witness to a crime or the report was part of the general surveillance system. People's reputations could make them suspects, make them vulnerable to crime, and sometimes protect them.

4 Managing protest and public life
chapter abstract

It was not only Egyptian authorities who made demands of Gazans; Palestinians also made claims of the Administration. The Administration was faced with the challenge of how both respond to and to contain these demands. That is, with how to create outlets for Palestinian public and political expression without losing control of the political field. In all of these struggles the language of citizenship was important, even in the absence of an independent to confer legal citizenship. This chapter explores three key arenas where the struggle over public life and political action occurred in Gaza: the circulation of ideas, the opportunity for protest, and the possibility of organized armed resistance to Israel.

5 Peacekeeping and international community
chapter abstract

This chapter explores the UN peacekeeping force, UNEF, that was deployed to Gaza after the brief 1956 occupation of the Strip by Israel. Tensions existed among UNEF soldiers, Gazan locals, and Egyptian officials, but UNEF's basic mission – to keep the peace – was accomplished successfully for ten years. The UNEF experience shows that security society in Gaza was not produced only in negotiations between Palestinians and Egyptians, but that this space was always connected to an international and a regional field whose actors mattered at the local level. In interventions like peacekeeping, lofty ideas about "international community" are worked out in small-scale and frequently messy interactions among people.

Conclusion: The policing imperative
chapter abstract

This chapter revisits the overarching arguments of the book and describes the police experience in Gaza after the Egyptian Administration. The extensive security apparatus developed to police the Gaza Strip during the Egyptian Administration was guided by intersecting concerns about national interest, social propriety, and everyday illegality. In pursuit of security in each of these areas the police extended their reach across the public domain and into many aspects of private life. Gaza's security society was centrally shaped by the specificities arising from the 1948 nakba [catastrophe]. Gaza's experience shows that techniques of security and surveillance also provide means for pursuing other politics. The control, invited and imposed, exercised by security systems does not have to be the end of the story.