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



Security Society in Gaza

In March 1961 a Palestinian doctor got drunk at a dinner party in Gaza City. Shortly thereafter, a report on the matter was submitted to the police.1 The occasion for the party was the visit to Gaza of a UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) doctor from Beirut, and its attendees included local doctors and an officer in the UN peacekeeping force then stationed in the Gaza Strip. The report was unsigned, but it appears to be the work of an informer. It was followed a few days later by a police officer’s report confirming the first account. Noting the time the party began and ended, including the license plate number of the peacekeeper’s car, and listing the names of all attendees, these reports provide a detailed account of the evening, thereby revealing something of the breadth of security concerns and practice during the Egyptian Administration of the Gaza Strip.

Although everyone at the party drank alcohol, Dr. Abu Ramadan was the only one who misbehaved. He began to complain about “dogs” on the radio and to “say things that he had no business talking about.” He then threw up in the bathroom and afterward drank three cups of coffee. At this point the party ended. The first report concluded by stating, “This kind of behavior is not becoming of the head of the doctors [syndicate].” These detailed reports about a seemingly minor social indiscretion were part of the work of the Egyptian Administration’s Mabahith al-‘Amma (literally General Investigation Department, rendered in English as the Criminal Investigation Department, or CID), a unit of the Interior Security Directorate.

The reports describe some lapses in judgment (Dr. Abu Ramadan seems not have shown himself in his best light on this occasion) but do not allege the commission of a crime. Nonetheless, this otherwise unremarkable social event was clearly of interest to the police. The details provided suggest an informer’s presence at the party, and they indicate matters that preoccupied security personnel: the presence of foreigners, the possibility of uncontrolled talk, and—indeed—impropriety. Although the reports make clear judgments about the doctor’s behavior, they imply, rather than explicitly state, the potential political implications of the “things he had no business talking about.” Uncovering and documenting political talk and action was central to the mission of police serving under Egyptian rule in Gaza.

This account of the party was one of many investigations preserved in a single CID file. Other reports describe additional police concerns, including unauthorized border crossings and ordinary crime. One report describes the activities of another physician, who practiced at the Bureij hospital in the middle area of the Strip and who had opened a private clinic in his home. The clinic was serving a large number of people who were “not residents of Palestine . . . but citizens of the UAR [United Arab Republic],” and who were coming illegally from the Sinai for treatment. Because the doctor sent many of these patients to the Bureij hospital for X-rays, the facility was becoming overcrowded with “too many Sinai residents,” sometimes resulting in the denial of “treatment to locals.”2

Still other reports in the file describe the apparent theft of medicine from the Shifa hospital pharmacy in Gaza City, the investigation that followed, and the discovery that the medicine had been misplaced within the hospital.3 This attention to a potential theft confirms the relevance of regular criminal activity to a security field that was replete with other concerns. This single file, produced in the course of the nearly twenty years of Egyptian rule in Gaza (1948–67), reveals a policing apparatus that concerned itself with the control of social and moral order as well as crime and politics, that engaged in the surveillance of seemingly ordinary activity, and that relied on informers as much as professional police.

This study of policing and security practices in Gaza during the period of Egyptian rule explores the range of matters that occupied police personnel, the mechanisms through which Gazans came to participate in the police project, and the avenues for influence and effect that were sometimes produced in a system designed for control and containment. It is an apparent paradox of Egyptian rule that security practices such as surveillance, control, and even police violence are among the most and the least positively remembered aspects of this period by Gazans.4 When I talked with Gazans about this time, I repeatedly heard from people that they had no worries about crime then, that you could sleep with your door open, that your personal safety was never at risk. At the same time, and sometimes by the same people, I was told that the Egyptians were harsh in their repression of independent political activity and that there was very limited freedom of expression. Policing was a space of both constraint and possibility, of control and action. Security practices produced uncertainty, suspicion, and comfort—all at the same time. These different security effects and the range of practices that produced them were part of the same security field. They were all part of Gaza’s “security society.”

This security society was a field of both governance and action. The broad scope of police concern, the number of people engaged in the policing project, and the range of techniques police deployed were part of a wide network of deeply unequal relations through which Gaza’s population was controlled and within which people tried to influence government policy, their neighbors’ behavior, and their families’ futures. Gaza is a distinctive site for considering the dynamics and effects of expansive policing practices, but it is by no means exceptional. Police practices and procedures were directly connected, through personnel and planning, to the colonial policing that existed in Palestine before 1948 and the increasingly authoritarian policing that developed in Egypt during the 1950s. These practices also resonate with forms of surveillance, investigation, and interdiction that are found across the globe, under authoritarian regimes as well as democratic ones, as governments respond to apparent threats by expanding, and extending the reach of, their security apparatuses.

Policing and security need to be understood within the wider context of Egyptian rule in Gaza, itself subject to a range of evaluations by Gazans. Egypt came to govern Gaza as a result of war in 1948, a failed effort to maintain Arab Palestine. Throughout the twenty years of this administration, the majority of it during Gamal Abdel Nasser’s presidency, Egypt’s rhetorical stance was as a defender of Palestinian rights, even if it did not always advance Palestinian objectives in practice. Gazans remember much about this time very positively, to the extent that they often describe it as the “golden age” for Gaza. Egyptian administrators, following similar policies being pursued in Egypt proper at the same time, made universal primary and secondary education a reality for the first time, provided scholarships for Palestinians to study in Egyptian universities, and promised government jobs to university graduates. Many in the increasingly highly educated Palestinian population were able to get well-paying jobs in Gulf countries. Egyptian policy was also directed at the economy within Gaza. The administration sold plots of land at very low prices to civil servants and made Gaza a duty-free zone, encouraging the development of hotels and restaurants to cater to bargain shoppers. Even as Egypt exercised strong control over independent political expression, Gaza was a crucial space for the reemergence of organized Palestinian politics in the post-1948 period: Fatah, long the most important Palestinian political organization, was founded by refugees to Gaza.

After 1948, the borders, political status, and population of the territory were all new, and each was cause for concern among Egyptian administrators and their security apparatus. The circumstances that created the Egyptian Administration, and that also created the Gaza Strip, highlight how unsettled and insecure this space was. Before 1948 Gaza was an administrative district within the larger territory of Palestine, governed by Great Britain under mandate from the League of Nations. Much of the period of the British Mandate was marked by conflict, between Palestine’s native population and incoming Jewish settlers, and between Palestinians (both Jewish and Arab) and British rulers. In 1947 the British government gave up trying to quell these conflicts and turned the matter over to the United Nations (the successor to the League of Nations). The United Nations’ proposal to divide the territory into two states—one Jewish, one Arab—seemed profoundly unfair to the Arab community, which represented around 70 percent of the country’s population and owned around 90 percent of the land, and they rejected the plan.5

Fighting began inside Palestine before the end of the Mandate on May 15, 1948. With the end of the Mandate and the formal establishment of the State of Israel, neighboring Arab countries, including Egypt, joined the battle. The Egyptian army entered Palestine through Rafah, along the Gaza-Sinai border, and its forces moved northward through the territory that would become the Gaza Strip.6 The war did not go well for the Egyptian army; a large contingent of its forces (including a young Gamal Abdel Nasser) was trapped by the Israeli army in Faluja. Basically defeated, the Egyptians signed an armistice agreement with Israel that gave them control over what came to be called the Gaza Strip. This agreement delineated the “provisional borders” of this new territory, twenty-seven miles long and seven miles across at its widest point. The armistice agreement concluded the fighting between Egypt and Israel, but it did not create peace. The length of the Gaza Strip was, therefore, a border with a hostile country (one with a significant military advantage). This fact alone created tremendous security concerns for Egyptian administrators in Gaza and made border control a key focus of attention throughout the administration. The nature of that attention changed over time: at first any crossings by Palestinians were met with strong punishment, but later Egypt supported Palestinian guerrilla attacks across the line. At no point was truly independent Palestinian movement permitted (even if it could not always be stopped).

Egypt governed the Strip until its 1967 occupation by Israel, with a four-month interlude from November 1956 to March 1957 when Israel occupied it as a result of the Suez Crisis. The status of the territory—previously a part of the larger Palestine Mandate, supposedly (though never actually) on the road to independence—became even more undefined. Unlike Jordan, which both governed and annexed the West Bank, Egypt, rhetorically at least, administered Gaza as a Palestinian territory. From the beginning, and partly in an effort to distinguish itself from regimes like that of Jordan, Egypt claimed only caretaker status, preserving Gaza to be part of a future independent Palestine. The first formal (though never substantive) indication of this stance was the establishment of the All-Palestine Government in Gaza in 1948.7 Other institutional arrangements followed in later years of the administration, but none of them ceded actual Egyptian authority over Gaza. Even as the administration was internationally recognized, the territory itself was deemed res nullius—not under any existing sovereignty.8 It was governed as a separate territory, but it was not part of any independent state.9

The creation of the Gaza Strip also transformed the area’s population, in several respects. Before 1948 around eighty thousand people lived in the area that became the Strip. They were joined by 200,000–250,000 refugees, largely from villages in southern Palestine. The vulnerability of the new population—displaced refugees and largely dispossessed natives—made them a source of considerable concern. A population under duress could easily become a threat. As might be expected, this enormous social transformation created both solidarity and resentment. Even if Egypt claimed to govern on behalf of Palestine, this stance did not mean that its officials necessarily trusted Palestinians. It is clear that by and large they did not. And Palestinians were often equally wary of Egyptians, sometimes doubting their commitment to the liberation of Palestine (reports that the army had fought in 1948 with defective weapons were seen by many as evidence of perfidy). In addition to changes in demography and solidarity, the political status of Gaza’s residents was reconfigured by the loss of Palestine. Before 1948 everyone was a citizen of not-yet-independent Palestine. After 1948 no one was a legal citizen at all, a fact that was of crucial importance for governance, for policing, and for politics. Despite its legal absence, the concept and practice of citizenship remained important for both how Egyptians governed Gazans and how Gazans made claims on Egyptians.10

Where citizenship was a real, if not fully realized, social and administrative category, the demographic makeup of post-1948 Gaza meant that refugeedom and the refugee were fundamental, and foundational, categories. The presence of large numbers of refugees also changed the physical landscape of Gaza’s interior. Eight refugee camps were established throughout the Strip to shelter the large number of displaced persons. These camps housed about half the refugee population, with the remainder living in Gaza’s cities and towns, transforming the character of these places as well. The Israeli takeover of Palestinian territory meant that most of Gaza’s native population was dispossessed of its land, which lay on the other side of the armistice line. The economic and social connections that had sustained the area were destroyed by the war and the new borders it had produced. Egyptian administrators—and international aid workers—had to provide assistance to this destabilized and impoverished population. Because of the large number of refugees in Gaza, and the fact that they accounted for a high percentage of the population, UNRWA was as significant a service actor as the administration. Health care, education, and rations were all provided to refugees by UNRWA, which sometimes also embarked on infrastructure projects. Policing and security remained the provenance of the administration alone.

Gaza-specific security concerns were joined by more general Egyptian concerns about controlling politics and public life.11 In July 1952 a coup by Egyptian military officers, known as the Free Officers, brought an end to monarchical rule in Egypt. In 1954 Gamal Abdel Nasser took over the presidency of Egypt. Among the consequences of the new regime were the abolishment of political parties, the strict control of any opposition, and the creation of what would become an infamous security regime.12 Police in Egypt tapped telephones and surveilled activity; they arrested, imprisoned, and sometimes tortured political activists.13 These practices continued, and even intensified, under the regimes that followed Nasser.14 For example, anger at the seemingly unchecked power of security personnel was one factor that contributed to the uprising that led to Hosni Mubarak’s removal from office in February 2011.15 Gaza under Egyptian rule witnessed the same interest in containing political activity and experienced the same sorts of policing techniques as deployed in Egypt.

To address the range of threats they identified in Gaza, Egyptian administrators established an extensive police force with expansive authority and jurisdiction. Few moments in life were beyond the scrutiny of the security establishment—to wit, the report on the drunk doctor—and few techniques of control were off-limits to police. One obvious effect of these multiple techniques deployed in a wide array of sites was that security personnel exercised a high degree of control over people’s lives, their actions, and their relationships. A less self-evident effect, but a significant one nonetheless, was that the security apparatus—its practices and its concerns—also became a venue through which people pressed claims and exerted influence. These actions took a variety of forms, including gossip and informing, petitions and protest. Influence was also sometimes a by-product of policing itself, even if people were not entirely aware that they were taking action. A key example of this dynamic is the way the surveillance of public opinion (street talk) sometimes led to a change in government policy. Security was at once a mechanism of governance and a means of acting politically. This book explores the range of techniques of policing, including public participation, widespread surveillance, reliance on informants, and police violence. It also considers the diverse spaces and objects of police intervention and investigation: political activity, petty crime, border control, and the management of public and moral life. In developing and implementing these practices, the history of colonial police in Palestine provided both personnel and procedural guidance.

Palestine Police in the British Mandate

Before there was the Gaza Strip there was Palestine. And before there was the Egyptian Administration there was the British Mandate. The Mandate itself, and its policing, was embedded in a broader system of colonial policing and counterinsurgency operations.16 Palestine was a crucial node in a network of moving personnel and procedure. British members of the Palestine Police were part of a circulating security force of empire. When the Palestine Police was first established, many of its British personnel came from the Royal Irish Constabulary and its Auxiliary Division (the Black and Tans).17 When the Palestine Mandate concluded, many police officers went on to serve in Malaya.18 Georgina Sinclair argues that the repeated emergencies in Palestine made its policing practices exemplary for the broader empire and that it became a key site for training people for leadership in the colonial police forces.19 The centrality of policing Palestine to the broader British Empire made service in its police an act of British civic responsibility, tied as much to a British national community as to the Palestinian public and Palestinian police.

The story of empire is in significant part a story of efforts—often brutal, sometimes sophisticated—to maintain control over spaces whose populations object to the colonial presence. As such, police forces and policing practices are at the heart of the imperial experience. Whether in settler-colonies with European populations to protect or in neocolonial orders in which it is the capacity for resource extraction that must be safeguarded, controlling resistance, insurgency, and crime is vital to imperial stability.20 Colonial police forces were uncomfortably located somewhere between military and civilian forces. As circumstances on the ground changed—an uprising begun or quelled—this location changed as well. In Mandate Palestine, and not only in Palestine, the attempt to make the force more civilian, and therefore more “professional,” occupied considerable energy of the commanders of the force.21 At the same time, the regular insurgencies that characterized the Mandate meant that these efforts were at best only partly successful.

Administrative concern about police professionalism was connected to the endemic condition of colonial violence. Violence was central to efforts to subdue native populations and in many struggles for decolonization.22 Although the most famous violence of the colonial era was that of the Belgians in the Congo and the French in Algeria, recent scholarship has illuminated the brutality that often accompanied British colonial experiences.23 In this context of inevitable violence, it was particularly important to colonial administrators that police forces be well ordered: ready to engage in state-directed violence when deemed necessary and able to control the impulses to disordered violence that encounters with natives could engender. If police exercised self-control, it was easier for colonial authorities to cast criminality as a “native problem.”24 To develop this control, it was necessary to instill in police officers a sense of themselves as not only professional actors but also imperial citizens.

In Palestine the police force was composed of both British and Palestinian officers, who worked together with varying degrees of comfort. As opposition to the Mandate and Zionist settlement in Palestine heated up, Arab Palestinian personnel found themselves in the difficult position of being called upon to act against their own community. As part of an effort (only occasionally successful) to manage these tensions, police work in Palestine was pursued through a model of professionalization that emphasized ethical comportment, disciplined distinction, and centralized control. A persistent challenge in developing a professional force was establishing and maintaining both appropriate distance between police and public and adequate camaraderie and esprit de corps within the force. To accomplish the first goal, policies recommended against posting Palestinian personnel to their hometown or district.25 Marriage between British police personnel and local women was strongly discouraged.26 To accomplish the second, there were proposals to train Jews and Arabs together and to make British police work closely with, and sometimes under the command of, Palestinian personnel.27 Although these efforts were substantial, in their memoirs British members of the force suggest that their effects were limited.28 As one former policeman put it: “Looking back, however, I think we could have done better by way of fostering a truly international spirit.”29

Both the degree of cooperation among national groups and the professionalism of the force were put to the test by the 1936–39 rebellion in Palestine. British personnel felt that their Palestinian counterparts were more loyal to their nation than to the force. As the 1938 annual report of the Police Department stated, “The Arab personnel of the Force could no longer be regarded as reliable.”30 As frustrated as they were with the refusal, or inability, of Palestinian officers to police rebellion, British officers expressed understanding for the conditions that fostered this refusal. In his history of the force, one former officer described conditions during the 1936–39 rebellion: “It was clearly now asking too much of a Moslem policeman whose wife and family were resident in the town to stand out fearlessly and belabour into the mob. . . . [This] was to invite one’s own destruction and a revenge attack upon one’s own children who attended the school and one’s own wife who used the local market place.”31 For Palestinian policemen the political situation in Palestine meant that they were frequently put in the position of having to balance their national identity, their personal safety, and their professional requirements.32

Like much about Mandate rule this conflict could never be wholly resolved. And in the last years of British rule in Palestine, policing followed an increasingly militarized model. Following recommendations by “imperial expert” Charles Tegart, police fortresses were built around the country, a mobile force was established with recruits from the British military, and the overall force had an increasing “security orientation.”33 It was this experience in counterinsurgency that made the British personnel in the Palestine police so well suited for other colonial conditions. As for the Palestinians in the force, some who lived in Gaza, or who came to Gaza in 1948, went on to serve as police during the Egyptian Administration.

How to Think About Policing

In contexts of colonialism, of security states, and of many urban environments, policing is very easily located as part of what Althusser calls the “repressive state apparatuses.”34 It is an arm of government that seems to operate more through coercion than consent, and it appears to be one of the key means through which states monopolize the “legitimate use of force.”35 There is no doubt that the policing system in Gaza under Egyptian rule was an expression of state force and often operated to constrain and contain popular desires and demands. And yet this coercive framework does not provide a wholly adequate account of the effects of this policing. Making sense of the complicated ways that multiple ideas about security and multiple tactics of policing insecurity intersect requires an analytic that does not only focus on its repressive or coercive capacities. For this sort of approach, many scholars turn to Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish.36 As is well known, Foucault looks at apparently repressive governing forms and considers precisely what is produced through them. Through consideration of the military, education, and prisons in Europe, he argues that a key product is subjectivities: both the disciplined, obedient subject and the incorrigible, ungovernable delinquent.

Building on this work, a great deal of the scholarship on policing explores ways that it works as a form of disciplining, as a means through which people are evermore precisely defined and categorized. Very often this disciplining works in the service of particular political projects of social control.37 Surveillance is a crucial technique in this project. Advances in surveillance technologies allow for increasing specificity of the observed subject, and thereby permit a population to be searched for its criminal elements.38 The dynamics of policing in Gaza during the Egyptian Administration certainly support the general diagnosis of its disciplinary operations, interest in expansive knowledge, and use of intrusive security practices, but they also highlight a practice that frequently relied more on indistinction than on precision. Just as it is broadly correct but insufficient to note that policing in Gaza was coercive, so too was discipline part of the policing dynamic but not all that needs to be understood about it.

Yet another approach to police work tacks from a different angle: asking about the place of policing in democratic life and in democracy promotion. This line of inquiry considers the ways in which police practice both follows the requirements of democratic governance (e.g., following the rule of law, respecting citizens’ freedom and dignity) and allows for appropriate forms of protest and complaint. Often prescriptive as much as descriptive, the investigation of the democratic potential and limits of policing is often in conversation with ideas about cosmopolitanism, especially in relation to the policing of immigrants and asylum seekers in democratic countries.39

One problem with this approach, at least for considering policing in Gaza, is that it often proceeds with an assumption that a sharp line can be drawn between democratic and totalitarian policing, with the political goal being to make policing more democratic. I would not dispute that there are important (ethical, political, practical) distinctions between these different governing systems and their related policing practices, but focusing too much on category differences can sometimes impede an understanding of the effects of police practice. That is, it may obscure both how repressive policing can sometimes enable forms of political action and the potential of seemingly democratic practices like community policing to constrain popular politics. Whatever the governing form, policing is important in shaping relations between governor and governed, among the population, within the locale, and with the wider world.40

The different character of policing practices in different places and times does matter for how those relationships develop. Making an argument for better, democratic policing, the criminologist Ian Loader argues that too often policing is shallow and wide when it should instead be deep and narrow.41 By “shallow” he means that recognition of police effect is limited to protecting people from “crime and disorder,”42 whereas “deep” policing would acknowledge the importance of policing to shaping subjectivities and political belonging.43 By “wide” he means the extensive visible display of police presence and entrance of police into a broad range of situations. “Narrow” policing, in contrast, would be accomplished by “constrained, reactive, rights-regarding agencies of minimal interference and last resort.”44 Loader’s project is a prescriptive one, to make a case for how to do better policing. Mine is a diagnostic one, to better understand the dynamics and effects of policing in Gaza. Using Loader’s terms, but twisting them a bit, I would argue that policing in Gaza was deep and wide. This policing practice was self-consciously ambitious in its aims to shape “membership in a political [and social] community,”45 and it did so in part through its expansive presence in that community.46

In thinking about how policing works to shape political and social community, another part of Foucault’s work can be helpful. I refer here to his investigation of security, a practice that he distinguishes from both sovereignty and discipline. Foucault describes security as involving a particular relationship of space, event, and population. He highlights the importance of “the temporal and the uncertain,” suggesting that “the specific space of security refers then to a series of possible events.”47 He distinguishes discipline and security, suggesting that where the former “regulates everything,” the latter “lets things happen.”48 Letting things happen is not a matter of unconcern but rather a technique to prevent the emergence of other things that are deemed to pose a more general threat (e.g., allowing some people to go hungry to avoid a general problem of scarcity). The capacity to know which things to let happen requires a detailed knowledge of people and place and an analysis of the relations among these details. Foucault further contrasts the way that security relates to people as population—observing people as a “multiplicity of individuals . . . bound to the materiality within which they live”—with sovereignty’s interest in “a set of legal subjects” and discipline’s interest in “bodies capable of performance.”49

Although Foucault’s arguments about different techniques of power sometimes appear to suggest a replacement of one form by another—that is, a historical movement from sovereignty, to discipline, to security and governmentality—he insists that they coexist. What he aims to identify is a shift in emphasis, where different epochs display greater reliance on certain of these technologies. So what he suggests might be called a “society of security”50 is one that is dominated by the security form. Thinking about Gaza under the Egyptian Administration as a security society is helpful, but this cannot involve a direct application of Foucault’s descriptions. Policing in Gaza, and governance more broadly, does seem to have deployed many of the relations among space, event, and population that Foucault identifies with security, but with a difference. His exploration of the emergence of security as the dominant governing framework is a story of liberalism. This is in part why the concept of letting things happens—laissez-faire—plays such a key role in this form of security. Egyptian rule in Gaza was not liberal, and laissez-faire was not a dominant part of its practice, although it too was concerned with both the limits of government and the welfare of the population.

What does a security relation to population look like if it does not proceed within the frame of “letting things happen”? In Gaza, at least, the framework appears to have been uncertainty. Uncertainty is not quite the same as risk, in part because risk can be calculated. Indeed, risk is a way of managing uncertainty. In Gaza uncertainty was not contained by statistics but circulated via rumors and surveillance, through informants and police personnel. It defined police encounters in the interrogation room and in the street. Suspicion (a key expression of uncertainty) shaped relations among all the actors in Gaza and helped define both political and social possibility. The administration worked to manage and control the Gazan population by significantly expanding police presence and by maintaining a degree of uncertainty about when and where that expansion would be found. It should be further noted that uncertainty was not just a policing technique; it was also an existential condition. Policing did not just produce fear; it responded to and made use of existing fears. But in contrast to how the effects of totalitarian and authoritarian policing through fear are often described, people in Gaza’s security society did not live in isolation and loneliness.51 They did live in and with chronic apprehension, and that state of affairs shaped both how they were governed and how they acted in the world.

Policing and Security Society

In thinking about security society in Gaza, I draw also from Partha Chatterjee’s consideration of the “politics of the governed.” I develop “security society” as a third category to employ alongside his two key concepts of civil society and political society.52 Chatterjee argues that in postcolonial India it is useful to think of people as being largely governed in one of two ways: as citizens (in the classic sense) or as population (in the Foucauldian sense). In turn, people act politically, make claims of government, in two different contexts and with two different kinds of tactics: as members of civil society using the language of rights or as part of political society engaging in practices on the ground that change their circumstances. Chatterjee’s descriptions of India do not map perfectly onto conditions in Gaza—the absence of a national state being only one notable difference—but the conceptual framework he offers is helpful to think with. And it is especially so with the addition of “security society.” Security matters are not a central focus of Chatterjee’s discussion, but he indicates that they could be considered within the context of political society.53 This incorporation is not adequate to account for dynamics in Gaza. The “security society” category, with distinct modes of governing and of acting politically, is necessary for understanding the character of policing here. Furthermore, distinct from Chatterjee’s proposal about India, everyone in Gaza was governed through all three forms and also acted politically through all three mechanisms. Different contexts and times brought different features to the fore.

When Gazans were governed via security, they were approached as security threats. And they could act politically through security society by mobilizing policing techniques to other ends, in part by changing the threat calculations of security services (to make not responding to a popular demand riskier than doing so). The identification of security threats relied on two processes that appear to move in opposite directions but were in fact often simultaneous and mutually reinforcing: the identification of “the people” as a collective unity (that required protection and could be a source of threat) and the separation of this category into constitutive parts (that could pose threats to each other and could also come together in different configurations).54 Citizens, population, and the people as security threat were all part of the governing landscape in Gaza.

Policing as Governance

Citizens are governed as legal and political subjects. Populations are governed as targets of welfare and other forms of intervention. Security threats are governed as potential problems and sources of suspicion. Policing practice in Gaza during the Egyptian Administration indicates that everyone fell into the category of “security threat.” At times this everyone was identified as “the people”: a collectivity that both required protection and was seen as a possible threat. At times this category was disaggregated, and to this end some policing techniques worked precisely by distinguishing persons. This attention to persons and people as security threats did not mean that suspects were transformed into “objective enemies” or “objective opponents,”55 as Hannah Arendt argues was the case for totalitarian policing. They remained in the realm of the uncertain—carrying the permanent potential for threat—that Foucault defined as central to security. Gazans who might stand in political opposition to the regime (and therefore be “enemies” in that context) were also Palestinian subjects (and therefore “friends,” or at least objects of compassion and putative solidarity). People whose behavior identified them as threats to moral order could also act in service of the police. And in fact their social vulnerability could make them more likely to do so.

What were the terms by which people were identified as possible security threats? The evidence from policing practices indicates that there were two key fields of security concern: national interest and social propriety. Given the tense location and conditions of Gaza during (and before and after) the Egyptian Administration, it is not surprising that many of the security concerns that drove policing practice during the Egyptian Administration were about the security and stability of the governing order. And much of this book describes policing objects and tactics that were clearly directed toward that security—including the direct control of political activity; efforts to produce a compliant, unthreatening population; and the patrolling of borders to stave off political conflict. The surveillance of everyday activity sought to track and therefore to head off any threat to this stability from Gaza’s population. The control of political and military activity was additionally about protecting Egyptian forces from Israeli attack.

Although regime stability and the national interest may seem more evidently relevant to security discourse—and Egyptian administrators clearly defined any independent political activity as a possible threat to national security and therefore to be controlled—police practice makes clear that propriety was also a central concern.56 For one thing, public order, and therefore seemingly private behavior, was viewed as relevant to the national interest. In these circumstances, the policing of morality and comportment that is part of any social order took on a heightened security valence. Additionally, propriety was a police matter because relationships between people were viewed as police matters, and the moral life of the community was a key terrain where these relations were worked out. Reputation also played an important role in this process. Identifying propriety as a matter relevant to the police also was a technique for promoting expansive entry into people’s lives, and therefore for assisting in the policing of politics as expressed in personal, familial, and social contexts. Recognizing the importance of this range of concerns to the security field helps explain the variety of spaces and behaviors that police concerned themselves with, the terms by which they addressed the population, and the ways that people responded to them.

Policing as a Means of Action

That security society was also a space within which people acted, and that the policing techniques through which they were governed also provided mechanisms for such action, is an important part of the picture. As a space of action, civil society is defined by associational life and rights claims. Political society is defined by communities in action, what Chatterjee calls “popular politics” and what Asef Bayat calls the “quiet encroachment of the ordinary.”57 Security society is a space defined by practices of surveillance and informing, by the forwarding of claims through expressions of suspicion, and by networks of relations that are defined by hesitancy as much as comfortable connection. When people in Gaza acted politically through security society, they did so in part by mobilizing these policing techniques to other ends.

People engaged in various sorts of actions. Some were framed in explicitly political terms and took the form of petitions and protests. In these actions, which were the minority, security concerns provided a basis for pressing claims for representation, protection, and militarization. Because of the significant constraints imposed on such explicit politics, political life pursued through security society often took the form of the apparently incidental, of small-scale pushback at particular arrangements. Suspicion, rumor, and apprehension are all well suited for such, often extremely localized, redirections. People used the same practices that police deployed in controlling their actions as mechanisms for pressing interests and claims, though never to equal effect. These claims were sometimes directed at the government and sometimes at other members of their community.

This last point is crucial for understanding the dynamics of security society in Gaza. It is easy to slip into speaking in dyadic terms of government control and popular resistance, of state-imposed constraints and people’s demands for freedom (and I sometimes speak in these terms here). But this dyadic relationship is only one part of the dynamic at play in Gaza, only one node in a larger network of relations. Acting politically was not just about acting against or in relation to governing authorities. It is important to consider the multiple relations within the population and the very significant efforts by people to exercise control over others in their community. It was easier for people to impose themselves on other Gazans, to control their behavior, than it ever was to exert influence on government. In these efforts people identified the same security threats as the police did. In so doing, they sometimes deployed an explicitly political language, particularly the discourse of nationalism, to suggest that others were involved in corruption or betrayal. Even more frequently, though, or at least so it seems from the available sources, they used the notion of propriety, and especially gendered propriety, to assert control over public space, private behavior, and social practices. Claims about improper behavior provided a means for bringing police authority to bear on what might otherwise be personal conflicts. They also motivated direct action that people sometimes took against each other. Such efforts were sometimes directly linked to charges of national betrayal.

The concepts of security and security society provide an analytic that shows how political mobilization for the nation and social mobilization for proper behavior in the community were linked. They help in exploring the multiple avenues through which control was exercised and rebuffed. They clarify the multiple relations that shaped the policing dynamic. Security society was a tremendously unequal space. The police had an array of coercive powers at their disposal that other people could never mobilize. Yet this inequality did not mean that police held all the cards. Not only were people occasionally able to push back at government policies they opposed, to insist on changes in procedures they found problematic; they were also able to mobilize security techniques—suspicion, informing, moral suasion, and coercion—to shape the behavior of others in their community. Gazans’ widespread participation in security work was to a considerable degree a product of fear and coercion, but it was never just that. It was also a product of the sometimes-positive evaluation of these techniques and of their usefulness to Gazans in getting things done for themselves.

Relationships, Categories, and Police Practice

In Gaza policing was a space and a vector of interaction and relation between the population and government. Working out this relationship also meant working out who that population was: as a totality, as an array of social groupings, and as a collection of individuals. So one task of policing, and it did not fall only to the police, was the work of naming: both addressing “the people” as a whole and disaggregating that category into a range of social and political categories with diverse allegiances and conflicts. Policing was thus as much about identifying subject positions as it was about controlling specific behavior. Policing also provided a mechanism through which people—within and sometimes in opposition to the categories with which they were identified—interacted with one another. In the early years of the administration these subject categories included spies and traitors, victims and neighbors. In later years some of these subject positions transformed into dissidents or activists, criminals, guerrillas (fedayeen), and nationals or citizens. These local subject categories also intersected with the global category of humanity. Police did not produce these subject positions either alone or out of nothing—and in fact sometimes they clearly emanated from within the population—but policing as a practice helped shore up these categories as meaningful and also used them as an instrument of control.

Police practice involved questions about both social and political relations. Political questions included, What can be demanded of government? What degree of free political expression is possible? What independent political activity is allowed? What venues for claim making exist? Questions about social relations included, What obligations do Gazans have to one another? What obligations do Egyptians have to Palestinians? What kinds of sociability are possible between Egyptians and Palestinians and between internationals and Palestinians? What sorts of behavior are deemed proper? Answering these questions, even provisionally, required continuing work around the question of who, and what, were the subjects in Gaza and what were the relationships among them.

The categories through which people worked out political relations included “citizen,” “subject,” “native,” “refugee,” “Palestinian,” and “human.” As citizens, Gazans interacted with government authorities to make a set of claims. As subjects of rule (population), they received services and dispensations. As native Gazans or refugees—significant and distinct social categories within the local community—they were differently connected to the place of Gaza and to Palestine more generally. These territorial relationships formed a basis of political claims (to return, to defense, to representation), of social dynamics (as people worked out the boundaries of community), and of security concerns (as people’s connections to here and there were identified as potential motivators for unauthorized actions). As Palestinians particularly and part of humanity generally, Gazans claimed a connection to the “international community.” As Palestinians, they argued that the international community bore responsibility for their plight, having supported the partition of Palestine, and therefore also had responsibility to both aid them and help resolve the situation. As part of humanity, Gazans located themselves inside this international community and pressed an explicitly relational set of claims about equity, justice, and mutual obligation among its members.

Social relations were worked out in significant part through the additional categories of neighbors and kin. One of the striking features of conditions in Gaza in the aftermath of the nakba (catastrophe), which brought masses of refugees into Gaza and dispossessed much of the native population of its land, was the disruption of preexisting neighborly relationships. These relationships were disrupted because the demography had changed: there were new people nearby, living as neighbors and making claims on one another. They were also disrupted because circumstances had changed so dramatically for the worse. People who used to be in a position to give found themselves in need. People whose homes had been centers of hospitality found themselves living in tents. People whose lands provided sustenance for their families and their neighbors found themselves dependent on rations. And people who were still in a position to be “neighborly” found the demands on their care to be substantially increased.58 All these conditions introduced new tensions into the dynamics of social proximity, but they did not utterly upend them.

Kinship relations were likewise strained by the 1948 experience. Families existed on both sides of the new categorical distinction between natives and refugees. And all of the difficulties associated with these new conditions affected family dynamics. Still, family ties remained economically, socially, and politically important, and they played a significant role in security dynamics. Not only did powerful families create a challenge for police operations, as taking them on had the potential to create more security problems than it might solve, but also family relations were one means through which people sought to promote and enhance their own security. As I have already suggested in invoking the centrality of propriety in policing, neighbor and kin relations were as much about the exercise of control as about the provision of care. The behavior and morality of those nearby was understood to be directly connected to a person’s well-being and that of his or her family. To be a neighbor, therefore, was not just to be a potential source of assistance and conviviality, but also to be, possibly, a threat. This potential was not a creation of the conditions produced by the 1948 nakba, but it loomed significantly larger because of them.

Police Encounters in the Archives

To pursue this investigation of policing in Gaza under Egyptian rule I use a range of sources: interviews with retired police officers and other Gazans, memoirs, press accounts, and archival sources. I rely most heavily on the last, which include records of the police forces of the Egyptian Administration and of the United Nations peacekeeping force deployed to Gaza in 1957. The latter records are housed in the UN Archives in New York and are readily available to researchers. The former, as I described in some detail in Governing Gaza, have a more complicated story. They are part of a broad set of government documents seized by Israeli forces when they occupied Gaza, first in 1956 and then in 1967. They are housed in the Israel State Archives in Jerusalem. When I encountered them in the 1990s they were “openish.” They had never been indexed or formally declassified, and archive employees made an ad hoc decision about which of the many boxes of Egyptian records were not about sensitive security matters and therefore available to me. In the midst of my research a decision was made (for reasons unrelated to my work) to close the files pending a formal review of their classification status. Given fair warning of the impending closure, I was able to photocopy large portions of these materials. To the best of my knowledge, they remain closed, and I have no expectation that they will be reopened.

The police records in these files include surveillance reports, interrogation transcripts, investigation files, reports on public opinion, informant statements, internal correspondence, and committee records (see Figure 1). The bulk of the records are from the on-the-ground work of policing, including both the surveillance operations of the security apparatus and the crime interdiction responsibilities of cops on the beat. They also include materials that went up the chain of command to the level of the governor-general (the highest authority in the Strip). There are some statements of policy and procedure, but the records are largely of police work in practice. They provide a rare window into the details of police procedure in the security states of the Arab world. As such, the significance of this material extends well beyond the particular history of Gaza.

In my reading of these sources I consider the police encounter, whether mundane or dramatic, as a kind of event. In the chapters that follow I recount many of these events: in the interrogation room, on the street, in the report. Policing events in Gaza can sometimes be identified as “critical” or “exemplary”59—in the sense of being both reflective and generative of social transformation60—but more frequently the archives are populated by a more quotidian sort of event, one whose effects were accumulative rather than immediately transformative. These events were no less important in shaping a social and political order, but it was a compilation of encounters that cemented, but did not necessarily dramatically redirect, the order of things. It was largely in such quotidian events—ones that, except for the peculiar history of these documents, might have left no historical record—that police and civilians had to repeatedly work out their roles (professional, political, and personal) and their relations with each other. It was also through these events that the security landscape was understood and produced.

FIGURE 1   Police report on public opinion describing people’s worries about infiltrators, border control, and possible Israeli incursions, 1962. Source: Israel State Archives.

As rich as these sources are, I should also note what they do not provide. By and large, they do not follow a case or an incident from beginning to end. Rather, they are snapshots of moments in the policing process. They do not offer an account of how police felt about their work and their relationships with the rest of the population. For some evidence about these matters, I make use of interviews I conducted with retired policemen in Gaza as well as conversations with other Gazans about their views of the police. The arguments I make in this book about these relationships are, though, based primarily on what they looked like in the details, on what was happening on the ground. At the same time, each of the documents I consider is engaged in its own interpretative work: making sense of what police saw on the street, determining which comments count as “public opinion,” evaluating witness statements, analyzing threat. Together, these interpretations paint a vivid picture of the landscape of concern and the network of relations in Gaza. In exploring this police practice, the first and second chapters of the book further delineate the contours of the security field: both the identification of subjects and persons of concern and the structure and techniques that developed to respond those concerns. Chapters 3–5 explore the broad range of activities that police sought to control, from the mundane work of investigating petty crime to efforts to curb political upheaval.

The expansive policing practice in Gaza was, I have suggested, wide and deep. To return to Ian Loader’s argument, he suggests that “wide” policing has the effect—in the name of security—of producing widespread insecurity. To a certain extent, this seems clearly to have been the case in Gaza. Even more, though, wide policing shows how insecurity and security could be produced together: security about daily life (little crime or violence) and insecurity about other members of the population, about political machinations inside and outside Gaza, and about the future. The “deep” effects (shaping subjectivities and political belonging) of Gaza’s form of participatory policing included the production of uncertainty as a central feature of community identification and population-government relations; the formation of new relationships and intimacies in an altered community and governing structure; the recalibration of political and public demands; and the reconfiguration of borders and boundaries, both spatial and social, as key features of governing and community relations. I explore each of these effects in the chapters that follow.

The characteristics of policing and security in Gaza during the Egyptian Administration were by no means unique to either this place or this time. The contours of what I am calling security society certainly vary across locales, but the centrality of security threats and security concerns to governing dynamics in a range of places is evident. The array of issues that can be named as security concerns and persons who can be identified as security threats is considerable and varied. In Gaza these threats and concerns were generally articulated through the rubrics of national interest and social propriety. Responding to these concerns, and seeking protection from violations by others, was a significant factor in structuring a range of relationships in Gaza. The ways that these two seemingly separate areas of concern, which might appear to matter to quite different parties, were in fact seen not only as part of the same terrain but also as intrinsically connected, is noteworthy. Consideration of this shared field can broaden the understanding of which issues matter to security states and to the populations who live in those states. It can help explain how people can both fear and desire expansive policing.


1. Israel State Archives (ISA), RG 115, box 2007, unnumbered file, police reports from March 22 and March 26, 1961.

2. Ibid., police reports from November 19 and December 17, 1961.

3. Ibid., police reports from April 30, May 9, and May 17, 1964.

4. Service and security are invariably intertwined. I explore the complex work of bureaucratic service in my first book: Ilana Feldman, Governing Gaza: Bureaucracy, Authority, and the Work of Rule, 1917–67 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008). This study of policing should be seen as a companion to that project.

5. Rashid Khalidi, “The Palestinians and 1948: The Underlying Causes of Failure,” in The War for Palestine, ed. Eugene L. Rogan and Avi Shlaim, 12–36 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 12.

6. Fawaz Gerges, “Egypt and the 1948 War: Internal Conflict and Regional Ambition,” in The War for Palestine, ed. Eugene L. Rogan and Avi Shlaim (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 150–175.

7. Avi Shlaim, “The Rise and Fall of the All-Palestine Government in Gaza,” Journal of Palestine Studies 20, 1 (Fall 1990): 37–53.

8. Ilana Feldman, “Waiting for Palestine: Refracted Citizenship and Latent Sovereignty in Gaza,” Citizenship Studies 12, 5 (2008): 447–463, 453.

9. Feldman, Governing Gaza.

10. Feldman, “Waiting for Palestine.” For discussion of ways that ideas about citizenship were affected by humanitarian practice, see Ilana Feldman, “Difficult Distinctions: Refugee Law, Humanitarian Practice, and Political Identification in Gaza,” Cultural Anthropology 22, 1 (2007): 129–169.

11. Policing in Gaza under Egyptian rule was also part of a broader landscape of postcolonial security states across the Arab world. See Volker Perthes, “Si vis stabilitatem, para bellum: State Building, National Security, and War Preparation in Syria,” in War, Institutions, and Social Change in the Middle East, ed. Steven Heydemann, 149–173 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000); Elizabeth Picard, “State and Society in the Arab World: Towards a New Role for the Security Services?” in The Many Faces of National Security in the Arab World, ed. Bahgat Korany, Paul Noble, and Rex Brynen, 258–274 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993); Dale Eickelman and M. G. Dennison, “Arabizing the Omani Intelligence Services: Clash of Cultures?” International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 7 (1994): 1–28; Lisa Wedeen, Ambiguities of Domination: Politics, Rhetoric, and Symbols in Contemporary Syria (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999).

12. As Curtis Ryan describes it, “Police surveillance and arbitrary arrest were pervasive features of the repressive apparatus of the Nasserist state.” Curtis Ryan, “Political Strategies and Regime Survival in Egypt,” Journal of Third World Studies 18, 2 (2001): 34.

13. Peter Mansfield, Nasser’s Egypt (Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books, 1965), 211. For a fictionalized account of the effects of the prison experience, see Sonallah Ibrahim, That Smell (New York: New Directions, 2013), along with his Notes from Prison. Ibrahim is an Egyptian novelist who spent time in prison for communist activity during this period.

14. Virginia Sherry, “Security Forces Practices in Egypt,” Criminal Justice Ethics 12, 2 (1993): 2, 42–44.

15. One of the events that catalyzed millions to go out into the streets was the death by beating of a young man, Khaled Said, at the hands of policemen, apparently because he had a video recording of police involvement in a drug deal. At the same time, one of the things that made many Egyptians wary of the unfolding of events in the first years after Mubarak’s ouster was the relative disappearance of public order and security (crime increased and rumors about crime increased even more) and the absence of the police from the streets. The July 2013 military coup not only returned a general to power but also brought an emboldened security apparatus back into full action.

16. Laleh Khalili, Time in the Shadows: Confinement in Counterinsurgencies (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2013).

17. Sir Charles Jeffries, The Colonial Police (London: Max Parrish, 1952), 153; Laleh Khalili, “The Location of Palestine in Global Counterinsurgencies,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 42, 3 (2010): 413–433, 417.

18. PRO/National Archives, Colonial Office (CO) 850/268/1, “Malayan Personnel: Police—clarification of Position of Ex-Palestine Police Officers”; 850/267/10, “Malayan Personnel: Police—re-engagement terms.”

19. Georgina Sinclair, Colonial Policing and the Imperial Endgame, 1945–1980 (Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2006), 115.

20. James Ferguson, “Seeing Like an Oil Company: Space, Security, and Global Capital in Neoliberal Africa,” American Anthropologist 107, 3 (2005): 377–382.

21. David Anderson, “Policing the Settler State: Colonial Hegemony in Kenya, 1900–1952.” Responding to reports about a lack of police discipline, the Arab paper Filastin (June 29, 1921) rejected them as part of a smear campaign launched by the Zionist press against the “national police.”

22. Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (New York: Grove Press, 1965); Adam Hochschild, King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999).

23. Priya Satia, “The Defense of Inhumanity: Air Control in Iraq and the British Idea of Arabia,” American Historical Review 111 (February 2006); Caroline Elkins, Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya (New York: Henry Holt, 2005).

24. See Steven Pierce, “Punishment and the Political Body: Flogging and Colonialism in Northern Nigeria,” in Discipline and the Other Body: Correction, Corporeality, Colonialism, ed. Steven Pierce and Anupama Rao, 186–214 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006).

25. CO 733/180/1/771015, April 8, 1930, letter from Dowbiggin to Chancellor.

26. R. J. B. Spicer, a key figure in the development of the Palestine police who was inspector general from 1931 to 1937, argued strongly in favor of regulating marriage between British police and Jewish women (these were the most frequent sorts of international marriages). He suggested that marriage be disallowed during an initial three-year probationary period (CO 733/195/87015, November 19, 1931, letter from officer administering the government to Cunliffe-Lister, secretary of state for the colonies). In spite of the concerns raised about the legality of such a rule by other officials, he was adamant about its importance (CO 733/212/97015, August 15, 1932; CO 733/229/17215, August 23, 1933). He believed that upon such a marriage “the man loses all standing and value as a Policeman” (CO 733/229/17215, May 10, 1933, extract of conversation between Spicer and Downie).

27. CO 935/4/2, Dowbiggin Report, 71. In a memoir about his service in the force Colin Imray comments, “One of RGB’s [Spicer] profitable ideas was that British and Palestinians should patrol together and learn each other’s way of life.” Colin Imray, Policeman in Palestine, (Bideford, UK: Edward Gaskell, 1995), 33. In his history of the force Edward Horne also notes the importance of this change: “Now by merging the work of the British and the Palestinians, some very good results emerged. It bred a new police spirit in the British section, it stiffened the Palestinian personnel and made them much more resolute and finally it led to a greater understanding between all races in the force and the morale and efficiency of the men rose accordingly.” Edward Horne, A Job Well Done (Being a History of the Palestine Police Force 1920–1948) (Essex, UK: Anchor Press, 1982), 168.

28. As fond as they might be of “the natives,” and many of them were very fond, British police generally viewed the Palestinian Arab population as lawless and a bit uncivilized. Roger Courtney, for example, averred: “Surely there never were people so ready to murder one another as Arabs. Gentlemanly and dignified though they were in their ordinary moments, especially with strangers or guests, the fact remained that when they did let themselves go, they went crazy.” Roger Courtney, Palestine Policeman: An Account of Eighteen Dramatic Months in the Palestine Police Force During the Great Jew-Arab Troubles (London: Herbert Jenkins, 1939), 100. Courtney argued that this absence of self-control resulted from a lack of proper discipline of children. He commented: “An Arab child was regarded by his parents as sacrosanct. He was never spanked. He was allowed to do just as he liked. It is impossible to think of children more spoiled—not even the children of the Jews, with whom child worship certainly was bad enough. . . . Consequently, undisciplined from without and even more undisciplined within himself, the average Arab grew up into a pretty poor specimen of a man so far as control of his passions was concerned” (ibid.).

29. Imray, Policeman in Palestine, 40.

30. Palestine Police Force, Annual Administrative Report, 1938, 1.

31. Horne, A Job Well Done, 142.

32. Most of the fighting during the revolt took place in the northern part of Palestine, and people from Gaza often went north to participate. This geographic distance from the center of the revolt without doubt affected conditions of policing in Gaza, although it is clear that it did not exempt Gaza from tensions. As far as local manifestation of the revolt was concerned, it was mostly expressed through the bombing of railroad tracks and utility lines.

33. Gad Krozier, “From Dowbiggen to Tegart: Revolutionary Change in the Colonial Police in Palestine During the 1930s,” Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 32, 2 (2004): 115–133, 129.

34. Louis Althusser, Lenin and Philosophy (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1971).

35. Ian Loader and Aogan Mulcahy, Policing and the Condition of England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 40; Max Weber, “Politics as a Vocation,” in Essays in Sociology, ed. H. H. Garth and C. W. Mills, 26–45 (New York: Macmillan, 1946).

36. Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Vintage Books, 1979).

37. David Arnold, “The Armed Police and Colonial Rule in South India, 1914–1947,” Modern Asian Studies 11, 1 (1977): 101–25; Stuart M. Hall et al. Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State, and Law and Order (New York: Holmes & Meier, 1978); Gary W. Potter and Victor E. Kappeler, eds., Constructing Crime: Perspectives on Making News and Social Problems (Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press, 1998).

38. David Lyon, ed., Surveillance as Social Sorting: Privacy, Risk and Automated Discrimination (New York: Routledge, 2002); David Lyon, Surveillance Studies: An Overview (New York: Polity, 2007).

39. Peter Nyers, “Abject Cosmopolitanism: The Politics of Protection in the Anti-Deportation Movement,” Third World Quarterly 22, 6 (2010): 1069–1093.

40. William Garriott, ed., Policing and Contemporary Governance: The Anthropology of Police in Practice (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

41. Ian Loader, “Policing, Recognition, and Belonging,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 605, 1 (2006): 201–221.

42. Ibid., 208.

43. Ibid., 214.

44. Ibid., 215.

45. Ibid., 214.

46. Loader (ibid.) indicates that deep policing gives people confidence about their place in community and a shared pursuit of security. In the case of Gaza—and in other places as well—the shaping effects of policing were not necessarily so stabilizing or comforting.

47. Michel Foucault, Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the College de France, 1977–1978, ed. Michel Senellart (New York: Macmillan, 2009), 20.

48. Ibid., 45.

49. Ibid., 21.

50. Ibid., 11.

51. Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1968); Oleg Kharkhordin, “The Soviet Individual: Genealogy of a Dissimulating Animal,” in Global Modernities, ed. Mike Featherstone, Scott Lash, and Roland Robertson, 209–226 (London: Sage, 1995).

52. Partha Chatterjee, Politics of the Governed: Reflections of Popular Politics in Most of the World (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006).

53. He states that he does not say much about the “dark side of political society” precisely because he “cannot claim to fully understand how criminality or violence are tied to the ways in which various deprived population groups must struggle to make their claims to governmental care” (Chatterjee, Politics of the Governed, 75).

54. This dynamic illustrates Michel Foucault’s argument that government operates through simultaneously individualizing and totalizing operations. See Colin Gordon, “The Soul of the Citizen: Max Weber and Michel Foucault on Rationality and Government,” in Max Weber, Rationality and Modernity, ed. Scott Lash and Sam Whimster, 293–316 (Boston: Allen & Unwin, 1987).

55. Arendt, Origins of Totalitarianism, 423–425.

56. I use the word propriety to gloss a range of Arabic terms that speak to proper and improper behavior—adab, akhlaq, ‘aib, haram—all of which appear in the record of police work.

57. Asef Bayat, Life as Politics: How Ordinary People Change the Middle East (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2010).

58. See Feldman, Governing Gaza, chapter 5, for an extended discussion of the complexity of care under duress.

59. On “critical,” see Veena Das, Critical Events (Cambridge: Oxford University Press, 1995). On “exemplary,” see Lisa Wedeen, “Seeing Like a Citizen, Acting Like a State: Exemplary Events in Unified Yemen,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 45, 4 (2003): 680–713.

60. Veena Das (Critical Events, 6) suggests that such events introduce “new modes of action.” Sally Falk Moore argues that they can redirect social processes and “reflect instability and incipient change.” “From Tribes and Traditions to Composites and Conjunctures,” Social Analysis (2005): 254–272, 255.