This study aims to uncover how grievance and opportunity factors affect attitudinal support for violent and non-violent resistance among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. To that end national survey data is applied to operationalize the mechanisms proposed in the traditionally macro-oriented theories of the opportunity-grievance debate on the micro level. On the grievance side of the debate, I hypothesize that (i) the poorer a highly educated individual is, (ii) the better an individual considers the civil and political rights situation in the occupied territories, and (iii) the larger the difference in economic conditions between the individual’s own governorate and the closest Israeli sub-district is, the more likely he or she is to support violent resistance. Results indicate support for the latter two hypotheses, which I argue is in line with the economic and political horizontal inequality mechanisms proposed by Cederman, Weidmann, and Gleditsch (2011). The mechanism is a special case of the relative deprivation mechanism described by Gurr (1970): Frustration arises when people feel there is a discrepancy between their own economic situation or the amount freedom and political participation they are allowed, and the economic or political situation of a reference group, in this case Israeli Jews. On the opportunity side of the debate, I hypothesize that coming from (iii) a less wealthy household or (iv) a less wealthy governorate will significantly increase support for violent resistance. Neither opportunity cost hypothesis is statistically supported.
At the heart of most macro theories attempting to explain the onset of internal conflict, lies the question of why some groups resort to violence while others restrict their collective action to non-violent forms of resistance. While the macro theories make assumptions about the underlying micro-mechanisms, quantitative researchers often resort to highly aggregated proxies when testing the theories. Micro-level studies therefore provide an important supplement, but good micro data on participation in armed insurgency is rare. Given these constraints, I argue that this study – despite limitations resulting from the attitudinal nature of the dependent variable and the limited generalizability of a single case study – contributes to the opportunity-grievance debate by providing one of the best micro-level tests of opportunity and grievance mechanisms that existing data allows.