Three Two Tango: Territorial Control and Selective Violence in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza

This article extends the formal logic of Stathis Kalyvas’ theory of selective violence to account for three political actors with asymmetric capabilities. In contrast to Kalyvas’ theory, the authors’ computer simulation suggests that (1) selective violence by the stronger actor will be concentrated in areas where weaker actors exercise control; (2) the relative level of selective violence used by weaker actors will be lower because of a reduced capacity to induce civilian collaboration; and (3) areas of parity among the three actors will exhibit low levels of selective violence perpetrated primarily by the strongest actor. Results from a logistic regression, using empirical data on Israel and two rival Palestinian factions from 2006 to 2008, are consistent with these predictions: Israel was more likely to use selective violence in areas largely controlled by Palestinian factions; zones of incomplete Israeli control were not prone to selective violence; and zones of mixed control witnessed moderate levels of selective violence, mainly by Israel. Nonetheless, Palestinian violence remained consistent with Kalyvas’ predictions.