Violence Against Civilians in the Second Intifada: The Moderating Effect of Armed Group Structure on Opportunistic Violence

Devorah Manekin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Patterns of military violence against civilians vary considerably, between conflicts and within them. This article explores why some combatants are more likely than others to engage in violence against civilians, focusing on a particular subset of such violence, violence that is not planned or authorized by military superiors, termed opportunistic violence. In a sample of Israeli combat soldiers from the Second Intifada, opportunistic violence was found to be strongly associated with duration of deployment among civilians. Long deployments erode social and moral norms, raising the likelihood that combatants will act opportunistically. However, the relationship between deployment duration and opportunistic violence was moderated by unit structure, such that long deployments were more likely to cause opportunistic violence in units with weak command structures. These findings suggest that the deleterious effects of long deployments are not inevitable but can be limited to a large extent through well-functioning structures of command and discipline.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1273-1300
Number of pages28
JournalComparative Political Studies
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This project has been supported by a Social Science Research Council International Dissertation Research Fellowship and a National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant.


  • Gaza
  • Israel
  • West Bank
  • conflict
  • political violence


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