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Second Intifada

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Second Intifada -  (Arabic : انتفاضة الأقصى‎, Intifadatat al Aqsa). The Second Intifada (or Intifadeh or Intifadah) or Al-Aqsa Intifada is the name given to the Palestinian Arab violence that began at the end of September 2000.

No definitive ending date can be assigned to the Second Intifada, though some would place the end at February, 2005. To date, it has claimed slightly less than 5,000 Palestinian Arab casualties (not counting nearly 600 killed in internecine Palestinian fighting) and over a thousand Israeli casualties. The economy of the West Bank and Gaza was ruined by Israel incursions and security measures, and by diversion of Palestinian infrastructure and resources to arms purchases and manufacture. The Israeli security fence (or Separation Barrier)  erected in order to stop terror attacks has disrupted Palestinian life in the West bank, and security barriers in place throughout the West Bank, at which Palestinians with explosives are still caught on a fairly regular basis, attest that the Second Intifada is not really over. The outbreak of the Intifada essentially murdered the Israeli peace movement. Large numbers of Israelis who had come to believe in the possibility of peace with the Palestinians felt disillusioned and betrayed.

The Second Intifada created two  positive achievements for the Palestinians. It brought about the evacuation of the Gaza strip by Israel. It also brought home, even to many members of the hard line Likud part,y that the settlement project and the dream of "Greater Israel" was impossible to fulfill. Hard liner Ariel Sharon conceived and implemented the disengagement from Gaza, though he had once promised that Gaza settlements had the same status as Tel Aviv. A new political party, Kadima, was born of the Likud, but based itself on a platform of making peace with the Palestinians or implementation of unilateral disengagement. Ehud Olmert, once a member of the Likud, headed Kadima. He told a final cabinet meeting in September 2008 that, "Greater Israel is no more." (Ha'aretz, September 16, 2008

However, the Intifada ruined the basis of the Israeli peace camp. Support for moderate solutions in Israel was seriously eroded. The Hamas takeover in Gaza demonstrated that disengagement, undertaken, like the peace process over the bitter opposition of the Israeli right, would end in disaster. The Hamas takeover also produced more problems for the Palestinians than were solved by the Israeli disengagement. It turned Gaza into a demonstration that could be used by opponents of the peace process to show that a Palestinian state would be a nightmarish reign of terror. It divided the Palestinian people, and it made it politically and practically impossible to pursue a peaceful solution of the conflict.

Major Events of the Intifada

(See also - Second Intifada Timeline)

July 2000 Camp David Conference fails
Sept. 27, 2000 Sgt. David Biri was killed by a pipe bomb in Gaza.
Sept. 28, 2000 Ariel Sharon visits the Temple Mount / Haram As Sharif
Sept. 29, 2000 Riots around the Al-Aqsa mosque leave seven dead.
Sept. 30 2000 Killing of 12 year old Muhammad al-Dura.Border Police Supt. Yosef Tabeja, 27, of Ramle was shot to death by his Palestinian counterpart on a joint patrol near Kalkilya.
Oct. 2000 Israeli Arabs close Wadi Ara road. Riots in Israel town of Umm al Fahm beginning October 2 result in Israeli police killing 15.
Oct. 12, 2000 Israeli soldiers lynched in Ramallah
Oct. 17, 2000 Sharm El Sheik Summit Conference and promise of non-violence.
Oct. 22-23, 2000 Extraordinary Arab League Summit  meeting in Cairo supports Palestinian "resistance."
Dec 27, 2000 Washington talks fail after Palestinians do not meet Clinton deadline for accepting  The Clinton Bridging Proposals.
Jan 21, 2001 Taba talks aborted because of Israeli elections, come close to agreement. The Moratinos Non-Paper summarizes supposed progress at these meetings. However The Palestinian and Israel Proposals at Taba regarding the Refugee Problem reveal that Palestinians are maintaining hard stance on Right of Return of refugees, while Israel rejects massive return of refugees of 1948 war.
Feb 6, 2001 Ariel Sharon elected Prime Minister of Israel
May 4, 2001 Mitchell commission Report  - Official Presentation
June 13, 2001 Tenet Plan
March 27, 2002 Passover suicide bombing.
March 29, 2002 Israeli Operation Defensive Shield kills several hundred in West Bank, about 56 in Jenin.
June 23, 2002 Israel decides to build Security Fence (AKA Separation Wall)
April 30, 2003 Road map published in first version.
Nov 11, 2004 Death of Yasser Arafat; Mahmoud Abbas becomes PA President
Feb 8, 2005 Sharm el Sheikh Summit, official end of Intifada. (See: Sharm El Sheikh Summit 2005: Ariel Sharon Remarks, Sharm El Sheikh Summit 2005: Mahmoud Abbas Remarks).
August, 2005 Disengagement complete
Jan 4, 2006 Incapacitation of Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert becomes PM
Jan 26, 2006 Hamas wins Palestinian elections; intensification of Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza.
May 11, 2006 Hamas announces Executive Force, independent of PA police.
June 25, 2006 Kidnapping of Gilad Shalit
June 27, 2006 Hamas, Fatah sign Palestinian Prisoners' Document,
Feb. 8, 2007 Fatah Hamas unity government
June 9-15, 2007 Hamas coup ousts Fatah from Gaza.
Nov. 26-28 2007 Annapolis Summit - Palestinian Authority and Israeli government are to negotiate a "shelf" agreement that is supposed to be implemented with the Palestinian Authority can control all of the Palestinian territories.
June 19, 2008 Hamas-Israel "lull" agreement, after Israel fails to oust Hamas or stop rocket fire from Gaza.

Causes of the Second Intifada

Various causes have been cited for the violence. Palestinian discontent had been building after the failure of the Camp David summit in the summer of 2000. Until recently, Palestinians insisted at least "officially" that the violence was "caused" by Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount/Haram as Sharif compound on September 28, 2008. He did not visit the Al Aqsa mosque, though Palestinians named the violence the "Al Aqsa Intifada."  However, by the Palestinians own admission on multiple occasions, the violence was planned in advance and orchestrated, though the extent and duration -- and the outcome -- were not necessarily foreseen.  

Visit of Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount/Haram as Sharif - September 28, 2000. The temple mount is of course also the site of the Al-Aqsa mosque. Sharon challenged the government to allow him to visit the temple mount, to demonstrate that Israel had in fact ceded control of it to the Palestinians and could not maintain peace in Jerusalem. The Palestinians proved him correct on the second point.  There is no doubt that this visit served as a convenient provocation, and it may have been intended as such by Sharon, who wanted to disrupt the peace negotiations and discredit the government of then Prime Minister Ehud Barak. As a political tactic, it certainly succeeded. However, if the Palestinian Authority had not been interested in magnifying this provocation, the violence would not have been maintained for several years. On the previous day, September 27, Sgt. David Biri was killed by a pipe bomb in Gaza. This is also cited as "proof" that the Intifadah was not triggered by Sharon's visit, but this was certainly not the first terrorist attack in Gaza or Israel.

In retrospect, it may be hard to understand why the Israeli government allowed Sharon to visit the Temple Mount, but at the time it seemed to be a rational course:

Clinton's proposal [...] included explicit guarantees that Jews would have the right to visit and pray in and around the Temple Mount... Once Sharon was convinced that Jews had free access to the Temple Mount, there would be little the Israeli religious and nationalist Right could do to stall the peace process. When Sharon expressed interest in visiting the Temple Mount, Barak ordered GSS chief Ami Ayalon to approach Jibril Rajoub with a special request to facilitate a smooth and friendly visit [...] Rajoub promised it would be smooth as long as Sharon would refrain from entering any of the mosques or praying publicly [...] Just to be on the safe side, Barak personally approached Arafat and once again got assurances that Sharon's visit would be smooth as long as he did not attempt to enter the Holy Mosques [...] A group of Palestinian dignitaries came to protest the visit, as did three Arab Knesset Members. With the dignitaries watching from a safe distance, the Shabab (youth mob) threw rocks and attempted to get past the Israeli security personnel and reach Sharon and his entourage [...] Still, Sharon's deportment was quiet and dignified. He did not pray, did not make any statement, or do anything else that might be interpreted as offensive to the sensitivities of Muslims... "I came here as one who believes in coexistence between Jews and Arabs," Sharon told the waiting reporters. "I believe that we can build and develop together. This was a peaceful visit. Is it an instigation for Israeli Jews to come to the Jewish people's holiest site?"(Bodansky, Yossef,  The High Cost of Peace, Prima Publishing, 2002,  pp.353-354)

Rajoub denied that he had given such assurances.

Violence of September 29 - September 29 was a Friday. Muslim worshipers at the Al-Aqsa mosque erupted in violent demonstrations. Israeli police were ill-equipped to handle the crowd, which quickly got out of control and assaulted a police station. Seven Palestinians were killed and over 70 Israeli police were wounded.

Killing of Muhammad Al-Dura - On September 30, French television crews filmed the death of 12 year old Muhammad al-Dura caught in cross-fire in Gaza. The film was heavily edited and portions were removed to make it tell a story consistent with the claim that al-Dura was deliberately targeted by Israeli soldiers. At the time, this was not contested by Israeli authorities. Later however, ballistics experts showed that the Israeli soldiers could not have been firing down at that angle from their rooftop outpost, and at a trial in France, French television officials were unable to produce several minutes worth of the original recording. (see  the Second Draft for a full discussion and here ) There could not have been any motive on either side for the deliberate murder of a child. Raw footage of the film seems to show the child moving at the end, suggesting that he is still alive, and it is claimed there is a "Take 2" sign as well.

Al-Dura, whether really dead or not, became a hero in the Arab world. Stamps were issued in his honor.

Second Intifada Muhammad al Dura stamp

Deliberately planned - A variety of Palestinian organizations and leaders, including those in the Palestinian Authority, praised the idea of starting an armed uprising, and Fatah summer camps trained youths for violent confrontation. (see  Why Oslo failed  and here).

A Fatah leaflet distributed in 1999 declared, "The protests will ignite the land under the settlers' feet and they will leave forever" (Why Oslo failed)

As long as there was no actual violence, this could in part be be understood as rhetoric only, or as threats used to cajole concessions, though the Palestinians had explicitly undertaken to stop violence and incitement in the framework of the Oslo accords.

However, several Palestinian sources have admitted explicitly that the violence was deliberately planned, though it is not clear what scope of violence was envisioned in the planning.  Imad Faluji, then Communications Minister of the Palestinian Authority, explained that the violence had been planned since Arafat's return from the Camp David Summit in July. Faluji stated clearly:

Whoever thinks that the Intifada broke out because of the despised Sharon's visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, is wrong, even if this visit was the straw that broke the back of the Palestinian people. This Intifada was planned in advance, ever since President Arafat's return from the Camp David negotiations, where he turned the table upside down on President Clinton. [Arafat] remained steadfast and challenged [Clinton]. He rejected the American terms and he did it in the heart of the US." (Al-Safir, March 3, 2001, Translation )

Following Israel's pullout from Lebanon in May 2000, the PLO official Farouk Kaddoumi told reporters: "We are optimistic. Hezbollah's resistance can be used as an example for other Arabs seeking to regain their rights."(AP article by Hussein Dakroub, March 21, 2002, cited by Wikipedia.)

The withdrawal contributed to the Intifada in another way, since Hezbollah has been more free to act in Lebanon and has been contributing directly to Palestinian violence as well as providing moral support. It has mediated cash transfers to the Iranian supported Islamic Jihad and more recently claims to have formed its own militant group in the West Bank. 

Mamduh Nofal, member of  the Fatah high security council and former military commander of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine stated that preparations for violence had been discussed repeatedly, before and after the Camp David meeting:

"He [Arafat] told us, 'Now we are going to the fight, so we must be ready,'" Nofal remembers. Nofal says that when Barak did not prevent Ariel Sharon from making his controversial visit to the plaza in front of al-Aqsa, the mosque that was built on the site of the ancient Jewish temples, Arafat said, "Okay, it's time to work." (Samuels, David, In a Ruined Country, The Atlantic, September 2005) 

Marwan Barghouti, who achieved great prominence leading the Second Intifada, explicitly admitted fanning and instigating violence following the Sharon visit to the al-Aqsa mosque. He told Al Ayyam (London) in an interview published September 29, 2001:

"I knew that the end of the month of September [2000] would be the last opportunity before the explosion, but when Sharon arrived at the Al Aqsa Mosque it was the strongest (most suitable) moment for the breakout of the Intifada. This is because the subject concerns Jerusalem, and even more it regards Al Aqsa. The meaning of this - setting fire to the entire region and specifically [due to the fact] that the issue of Al Aqsa inflames and ignites the sensibilities of the masses."

"On the eve of Sharon's visit I participated in a TV panel, on a local TV station. I found this to be the right opportunity to call upon the public to go to Al Aqsa on the following morning because it is not possible for Sharon to arrive at the Temple Mount [El-Haram Al-Sharif] 'just like that' and walk away peacefully. I was determined, and early the next morning I went to Al-Aqsa."

"Sincerely, when I arrived at the area of the mosque, I was disappointed by the people who had arrived. The gathering there consisted entirely of Palestinians of 1948, eight of them Israeli-Arab members of the parliament and over 60 other well-known people. I was dissatisfied with the small attendance and when friction did not occur, I became angry. We tried to create friction, but with no success - due to conflicts of opinions that emerged with other people surrounding the friction created at the Al Aqsa square at the time." (Al Ayyam London, Interview with Hashem Abdullah, translated here)

... After Sharon left, I had stayed in the area for two hours with other well known people and we spoke about the character of the reaction and of how people should react in all the towns and villages and not only in Jerusalem. We made contact with all the factions."

... "While we were in the vehicle on our way to the Arab Triangle, I prepared a proclamation on behalf of the high Fatah committee in coordination with the brothers in which we called upon the people to react to what happened in Jerusalem. When I came back to Ramallah I continued the talks with the contacts I had gathered around me regarding the character of our activity and the continuation of the reaction."

A Brief Intifada?

Mamduh Nofal told David Samuels:

I told him, 'Abu Ammar, I need the security to speak openly.' The Bedouin say, 'Give me the security to speak freely.' He said to me, 'Speak.'

"I said to him, 'Abu Ammar, Barak will lose, Sharon is coming, the military work is not our field. It is Sharon's field. He needs it. So please, Abu Ammar, let us go out from this field, and leave Sharon as the hayawan muftaris [the flesh-eating animal] to play alone.'"

"Those who were sitting around Arafat, they said, 'Ah, you are afraid of Sharon!'" Nofal recalls, shaking his head. "'Sharon will not stay in power. Barak stayed eighteen months. Sharon will stay nine. And if we conquer him, this is the last bullet in the Israeli gun!' They said, 'So, khalas [enough already]—why are you afraid?' I said, 'I am afraid that he will destroy us in these nine months, and I doubt that he will fail.' At that time Arafat kept silent. He was listening. But most of those around opposed what I said."  (Samuels, David, In a Ruined Country, The Atlantic, September 2005) 

If at least some Palestinians planned the Intifada, it is unlikely that they foresaw either the rapid escalation or the duration of the Second Intifada. Both sides clearly underestimated the staying power of their opponents. From the inception of the Oslo Accords, Israeli politicians had also over-estimated Israel's ability to undo the changes to which it had agreed. Throughout the Intifada, US and European pressure forced restraint on Israel and prevented elimination of the Palestinian Authority established by the Oslo accords or even, at the start, large scale military action.

Goals of the Second Intifada

To understand the causes of the second Intifada, it makes sense to examine the goals, as expressed by the different organizations that led it The second Intifada, from the start, never had a unified and agreed goal. Therefore, there is no single political achievement or concession or group of concessions that would end the Intifadah and cause all the groups to put down their arms. When Mahmoud Abbas explained the reasons - and by implication the goals -- of the Second Intifada in 2000, he was speaking for himself and for the Fatah, The leaders of the Fatah to a large extent were somewhat like a man who "commands" a hurricane by watching where the wind is blowing and yelling with great emphasis, when the wind is blowing to the west, "Wind, blow to the west."

As Ramzy Baroud has observed so acutely:

Palestinian collective revolts are not a singular response to singular problems caused by outsiders, for example the British mandate, Zionist colonial designs, Israeli occupation, and so on. What is often missed are the internal factors which anger the Palestinian masses, such as their leadership's failures, divisions, u-turns, corruption, nepotism, and so on. (Maan News, Oct 31, 2008)

Several processes had occurred or were occurring in the Palestinian polity. The first was the aging of the leadership of the secular Palestinian parties, and the coming of age of new leaders who wanted to direct the affairs of the Palestinians, bypassing Arafat, Abbas and others. The second was the wave of radical Islamism that was sweeping the Muslim world, and that had been pushing aside the secular "liberation movements" that had been modeled on the Algerian revolution and the Pan-Arab rhetoric of Gamal Abdel Nasser and supported by the USSR. The USSR was as dead as Nasser, and in their place Iran and the Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda were pushing a very different philosophy. A third process was that in line with the goals of the Islamist movements, the militants were increasingly abandoning the two-state solution that had been agreed upon as the goal of the Oslo peace process. Accepting a Jewish state in the Dar al Islam was inconsistent with the Islamist ideology of Jihad. Moreover, the success  of the American sponsored peace process was in direct contradiction to the program of all the Islamist groups.

So the Second Intifada came to be run by a coalition of groups with very different aims, most of which paid lip service to the leadership of the Fatah under Arafat while in fact they were each trying to overthrow Fatah, Arafat and the PLO, and to assume leadership themselves. This produced some strange bedfellows to be sure. A number of almost ad-hoc organizations and coalitions formed, and traditional groups also splintered into tiny mysterious little groups of "militants" like the Fatah Abu Rish Brigades and the Jayish al Islam. The Web site of the National and Islamic front, evidently organized by Marwan Barghouti had links which could quickly lead you to the reactionary Hamas, as well as links to Marxist groups that featured speeches of Joseph Stalin. The one, certain thing that would elicit agreement from all these groups was killing "Zionists" regardless of the final shape of Palestinian society. Therefore the only certainly justifiable "political" activity for all these groups, and the sure way to gain popularity in the Palestinian polity, was to continue the Intifada. In other words, the only possible common goal of the Second Intifada was to kill "Zionists."  As long as the Intifada continued, any violent activity or protest, violent or other otherwise could be assigned the vague goals of "ending the occupation" (groups such as Hamas consider that all of "Palestine" from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean Sea is "occupied") and achieving undefined "Palestinian rights." Any proposed solution would force a confrontation between the conflicting ideologies of the perpetrators.

The Popular Resistance Committees, formed some time in September or October  of 2000, if not before by Jamal Abu Samhadana exemplified the spirit of the Intifada. The members consisted of former or current (it is not clear if they left their groups)  Fatah Tanzim, Palestine Islamic Jihad, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and the Marxist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. This is an absurd combination of ideologies.

The goals of this organization are explained in their public declarations: The road map is a  "American-Zionist plot" to salvage the "Zionist enemy," "to kill the resistance and dismantle its infrastructure." ref

The leadership of the Popular Resistance Committees views "resistance in all its forms" and "Jihad in the way of Allah" as the only ways to liberate all of Palestine, "whose land, whose mountains, the holy places in it, the skies, the sea, and the political borders are part of the [Islamic] faith." Abu Samhadana asserted that Jews are "enemies," "betrayers," and "murderers of the prophets who also tried to murder the Prophet Mohammed." The official declarations of the Popular Resistance Committees  refer to Jews as "the sons of monkeys and pigs" and to Israel as "a Satanic entity that must be destroyed."ref Samhadana favored opening the borders of the Arab states to a jihad against Israel until its total destruction.ref

It is probable that the Popular Resistance Committees are proteges of the Hezbollah. It is very hard to credit that this organization came into being "spontaneously" only about 10 days after the start of the second Intifadah and were able to stage their first attack on October 8, 2000. It is on the other hand, very hard to credit that Arafat or the Fatah would actually encourage the creation and operation of such an organization. Apparently, if the Second Intifada was planned, it was not planned very well.

Second intifada - suicide bombed bombed bus 

The Second Intifada and anti-Zionism

The second Intifada, not surprisingly, saw a recrudescence of "anti-Zionism" similar to that professed by Palestinians prior to the Oslo accords, very often accompanied by the crudest forms of anti-Semitic racism, such as those quoted above by the Popular Resistance Committees. Somewhat more refined versions appeared among supporters of Palestinians in Europe. Shibboleths such as "Jews control the government and the media" were now transferred to "Zionists" and the "Israel Lobby."

Anti-Zionism in the Second Intifada

Anti-Zionism in the second Intifada

This produced an inevitable, if weak, counter-reaction. Zionism and Zionist ideology, which had  been despised as "hot air" in Israel, and generally deemed to have done its work with the creation of the state of Israel, became respectable again. The conflict was no longer centered around ending the occupation, which became a secondary issue. From the Israeli perspective, the rhetoric and goals of the Intifada threatened the existence of the state and even of the Jewish people. This perception appears to have been borne out, in Israeli eyes, by the rise of the Hamas in Gaza. This, as much as the violence of the Second Intifada, helps to account for the rejection of the peace process by much of Diaspora Zionism, which saw the threat in terms of anti-Semitism rather than a national struggle of the Palestinians.

Israeli Policy and the Second Intifada

A series of Israeli errors or worse contributed to the creation of the Second Intifada and helped it grow. The general attitude of the Israeli government toward the Palestinian population was one of alienation. Even in the time of Yitzhak Rabin, Israel reacted to the massacre of Palestinians by settler Baruch Goldstein by imposing a curfew on the Arabs. Settler attacks on Palestinian Arabs and settler vandalism went largely unpunished. Various governments continued to build settlement units and expand the settlement population steadily in the West Bank and to a lesser extent in Gaza, nearly doubling it between 1994 and 2000. The assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and subsequent election of Benjamin Netanyahu more or less froze the peace process and gave ample opportunity for extremists to dominate the Palestinian polity. Ehud Barak returned to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process only after he had been in office for nearly a year, in the spring of 2000. Needless and pointless brutality in suppression of demonstrations in the early part of the Intifada no doubt helped fuel violence and extremism (see below and see Second Intifada Timeline).

Israel certainly missed a possible opportunity to pursue the peace process and anchor the end of the Intifada in real achievements in 2005, after the death of Yasser Arafat in November 2004, and the rather rapid declaration of an end to the Intifada in February of 2005. The Palestinian Authority offered non-violence and negotiations. The Israeli government responded by going ahead with the disengagement plan without involving the Palestinian Authority and without offering serious peace negotiations or concessions.  Perhaps a serious Israeli attempt to make peace would have failed, but it should have been tried, if only to demonstrate that it could not be done.

Israel had an almost continuous policy of building settlement units, of punitive measures and security measures, house demolitions, land confiscation and destruction of olive trees. None of these  as are dramatic as suicide bombings or Israeli incursions, but all contributed misery and resentment on the Palestinian side. Of course, Palestinian organizations were quick to exploit Israeli misdeeds and to minimize the consequences of their own actions, which ruined the Palestinian economy and threw the West Bank and Gaza into chaos.

House demolitions were perhaps the most dramatic and publicized of the Israeli actions. There are or were different types of house demolitions, but in practice they were all blurred together in the mind of the public:

1- Demolition of houses built without permits that constituted a public danger. These were relatively few and they applied to Israelis and Palestinians alike especially in Jerusalem. They usually applied to dwellings under construction that were uninhabited.

2- Demolition of houses for security purposes - Palestinian houses that covered tunnels or were used or allegedly used for firing positions or cover for militants. The demolition of such houses in the Rafah area where tunnels proliferated is notorious. Likewise, the demolition in the Jenin refugee camp during operation Defensive Shield became notorious. However, these are the sorts of things that soldiers and armies often do when fighting a war. Provided there is really a security reason for the demolitions, they cannot be considered "war crimes" or "crimes against humanity." It is debatable whether they are wise or useful policy.

3- Punitive demolition of the houses of suicide bombers - This policy was discontinued after it was determined that it had no deterrent effect. However, it was recently revived after attacks in Jerusalem. This is clearly the most unjustifiable of the different demolition types, but it is also relatively rare.   

Arab Support for the Intifada

The Second Intifada was fueled by the extraordinary enthusiasm and support, at least in words, displayed by key Arab countries, ostensibly US allies. These countries openly approved and applauded the violence, in contradiction to US policy and to their own promises and declarations. A few days after the peaceful declarations of the Sharm al Sheikh Summit of 2000, an "Extraordinary Arab League Summit " was held in Cairo, on October 21 and 22, 2000. Having only a few days previously declared their commitment to peace and dialogue, the Arab leaders now issued a communique that declared:

The Arab leaders commend the response of the Arab masses, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Arabian Gulf, to the Intifadah of the valiant Palestinian people, and they acclaim the evident national consensus they have reached in standing together to condemn the Israeli aggression and the savage actions taken by the occupation forces. The stirring of the Arab masses is an expression of latent patriotic sentiments and of strong solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinian people for its sovereignty, its dignity and those things it holds sacred. ( Extraordinary Arab Summit, 2000

This was followed in March of 2001, by an equally bellicose and uncompromising stance at the Arab Emergency Summit in Amman. That document stated:

The leaders hail with great pride the Palestinian people's steadfastness and brave intifadah in the face of the savage onslaught waged by Israel and the brutal oppression exercised by the occupation authorities. They salute the brave martyrs of the intifadah and praise the spirit of sacrifice and steadfastness shown by the Palestinian people. The Palestinian people have managed through their national leadership, relentless determination, and limitless sacrifice, to confront Israel's repressive measures and abort the de facto policy, through which the occupation authorities have tried to impose their unfair terms on the Palestinian people and negotiator by force. The leaders declare that they stand by the Palestinian people in their heroic struggle and support their brave intifadah and legitimate right to resist occupation until they achieve their just national demands, represented by their right to return, self-determination, and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. (Arab Emergency Summit, 2001)

The summit attendees must have been aware that it was the Palestinians who had initiated the Intifada.

In addition to public diplomacy, there was private maneuvering by Arab states. Mamduh Nofal told David Samuels: 

"And I think Saudi Arabia also played a role in Arafat's decision to keep the intifada going," Nofal says, agreeing with a similar analysis presented to me by Abd Rabbo. "Clinton put his initiative on the table on the eighteenth of December, after three months of intifada. Arafat visited Saudi Arabia. At that time the Saudi Arabian leadership told him, 'Wait, don't give this card to Clinton. Clinton is going, Bush is coming. Bush is the son of our friend. We will get more for you from him.' Then we discovered that Saudi Arabia couldn't do anything, that it is not a matter of personal issues or friendship. And Sharon succeeded very well, and put us in a corner." (Samuels, David, In a Ruined Country, The Atlantic , September 2005) 

It is unclear whether the Arab leadership was afraid of spontaneous sentiment in their own countries, or sought to exploit the Intifada for their own geopolitical purposes in bargaining with the United States. The result, however, was to push the Palestinian leadership into a corner from which they could not easily escape. Yasser Arafat could not very well abdicate his newly assigned role as leader of the Pan-Arab cause, and he would not have wanted to. The Arab leaders must have understood this very well.

Palestinian Evaluation of the Second Intifada

Mahmoud Abbas admitted that the Intifada was a mistake in 2004, and Mohammed Dahlan elaborated on the this confession in 2008. In 2004, Abbas told the Jordanian newspaper al Rai:

I think now that that the Intifada in its entirety was a mistake and it should not have continued, and in particular what is called 'the militarization of the Intifada '…"


Abbas: "If we were to sum up where we have ended up after four years of the Intifada, [we would find that] there are three opinions: the first opinion is that after the killing of 1,000 Israelis in the Intifada, Israel would collapse, as would Sharon; the second opinion is that the armed Intifada would liberate the homeland; the third opinion is that the Intifada would bring the settlements to a halt. An examination [of the matter] shows that Sharon did not fall. On the contrary, he has become the most popular [leader] in the history of Israel, after having been subjected to condemnations in Israel. On the same note, all of the Palestinian lands are now occupied and vulnerable, and the settlements have nearly doubled. We damaged our relations with the Americans and with Israeli public opinion; the latest statement from the Quartet is an additional indication of what has become of us."


"The fourth opinion says: stop the 'militarization' of the Intifada. Let us fulfill our obligations as they appear in the Road Map and in the Basic Law, and let us convince the world that we have fulfilled our obligations and that Sharon must fulfill his... (Al Rai,  (Jordan), September 27, 2004. Translated by MEMRI)

Later that year, he also said, in an interview with As Sharq al Awsat:

"The uprising is a legitimate right of the people to express their rejection of the occupation by popular and social means," Mr Abbas said. "Using the weapons was harmful and has got to stop." (Guardian, December 15, 2004)

Mohammed Dahlan made similar statements in an interview with Al Hayat (London) in 2008:

Al-Hayat: "Do you think that the military operations inside the 1948 borders were a mistake?"

Dahlan: "Yes, they united the international community and the Israeli public against us. It would have been better to confine our operations to the territories occupied in 1967 and to military [targets]."

Al-Hayat: "So the operations in restaurants and against [other] civilian targets [were a mistake]?"

Dahlan: "A military operation is beneficial if it yields political profit. An operation is clearly a mistake if its outcome is political disaster..." (Al-Hayat (London), August 30, 2008 Memri Translation)

Neither Dahlan nor Abbas considered that blowing up civilians in a restaurant on purpose might not be a "military operation" in the sense that such are usually conceived in Western societies, or that it might be wrong to undertake such operations. No Palestinian spokesperson has considered the disastrous effect of the fact that the Palestinian authority had broken its word, not as a moral issue, but as a demonstration of the claim of the Israeli right that agreements made by the Palestinians would not be kept.

Security Fence and the Second Intifada

In June of 2002, following numerous terror attacks, the Israeli cabinet decided to build a "security fence" separating most of the West Bank from Israel and those settlements that Israel clearly intends to keep in any peace agreement.

The fence was originally a project of the Israel Labor party. Right wing parties objected to it because it would, in effect, be interpreted as a West Bank border. Unceasing suicide attacks, as well as car theft, theft of agricultural equipment and animals and vandalism increased the pressure for some sort of barrier to control passage of Arabs from the occupied territories into pre-1967 Israel. As a compromise, the right adopted the fence, but moved its route to include portions of the West Bank territories within Israel. This evoked opposition from the Israeli left as well as from Palestinians who complained both of de facto annexation of territory and of hardships imposed on Palestinian Arabs caught between the fence and Green Line 1967 Israel and unable to plow their fields on the other side of the fence, or in some cases, unable to go out their front doors. Anti-Israel activists call the fence the "Separation Barrier" or the "Apartheid Wall" or the "Separation Wall," though it is a concrete wall in only a small percent of its length. It includes about 8% of the territory of the West Bank. The International Court ruled that the fence is illegal, but the Israeli Supreme Court upheld its legality.

Both sides are right. There is little doubt that the fence has prevented terror attacks, and there is also little doubt that it has caused hardship to Palestinians and that in part, its route is determined by Israeli desire to retain West Bank territories.

Casualty figures and the progression of the Intifada

About four or five times as many Palestinian Arabs as Israelis have been killed in the course of the Intifada. Not including the Palestinians killed in internecine violence, this amounts to slightly less than 5,000 Palestinians and about 1,100 Israelis according to Betselem estimates. Other estimates tend to inflate Palestinian deaths with reported or alleged deaths, often caused in traffic accidents unrelated to the Intifada, and with deaths supposedly due to Palestinians who were not given health care in time due to closure. One such dead person was "resurrected" after he admitted faking a report of his death. Many of the reported Palestinian deaths were militants actively engaged in attacking Israeli civilians or suicide bombers who blew themselves up. At least some of the Israeli deaths were defense forces personnel engaged in incursions in the West Bank and Gaza. Each side will claim that their own casualties were "acting in self defense" or exercising "legitimate resistance." Palestinians often "justify" Israeli civilian casualties in the West Bank on the grounds that it is "legitimate" to kill settlers (often dehumanized as "male Jewish settlers" and "female Jewish settlers"). "Legitimate resistance" to occupation should not include indiscriminate killing of civilians. This is certainly stretching the point when the "occupying forces" or "settler" victim is a baby or a 4 year old child.

Israelis claim that relatively high proportions of Palestinian noncombatant casualties, including about 1000 Palestinian "children" killed, are due to the fact that terrorists use non-combatants cynically or locate terrorist bases in populated areas. In Gaza, however, there are few places that are not heavy populated.

In general, one goal of terror groups is to cause the enemy to react disproportionately so as to arouse world public opinion. Israel certainly fell into this trap in the initial stages of the Intifada, when Palestinians sent large numbers of relatively young adolescents and children to participate in "non-violent" demonstrations that included stone throwing. IDF soldiers were not equipped for crowd control and reacted with rubber bullets or live fire, killing many of the youthful "demonstrators." Israeli authorities did not seem to learn the lesson from many repetitions of such engagements in the first year or so of the Second Intifada. 

Beginning in 2003, Israeli casualties in the Second Intifada began to plummet. In 2002, 438 Israelis had been killed. In 2003, 201 Israelis were killed and in 2004 112. The security fence and information gathered in Operation Defensive Wall (or "Defensive Shield") enabled Israel to prevent many attacks. However, Palestinian casualties remained high. In 2002,  1036 Palestinians were reported killed. In 2003, 590 Palestinians were killed, while in 2004, 829 Palestinians were killed due to IDF or Israeli civilian actions, while "only" 112 Israelis were killed.  In 2005 both Israeli and Palestinian casualties reached a "low" of 197 and 52 respectively. But in 2006, Israel killed 662 Palestinians against 29 Israeli deaths and in 2007, Israel killed 383 Palestinians and suffered only 13 fatalities. In 2008, incomplete data show 433 Palestinian fatalities vs 31 Israeli deaths.

Israel claims that these Palestinian casualties were due to ongoing security operations needed to stop terror attacks from being hatched.

Casualty figures must be examined in detail. While there is no doubt that Israel killed many civilians unjustifiably (Palestinians killed a higher proportion of noncombatants, but less children), many of the Palestinian minors killed were engaged in some sort of hostile activity. 14 year old children attempted attacks on settlements or were killed while attempting to throw Molotov cocktails at tanks, or transported explosives. Israeli fatalities are low in part because of better protection of soldiers, care in isolating civilians from combat and the lack of success of Palestinian attacks. Grenades and molotov cocktails and mortars and rockets that do not hit anyone are not shown in the fatality statistics.

Qassam Rockets and Hamas - Following the Hamas takeover in Gaza, Palestinian casualties in Gaza soared, seemingly "for no reason." This was due both to Israeli determination to undermine the Hamas government, and to the urgent political need to stop the firing of thousands of Qassam rockets and mortars into Israel. While these did not cause many fatalities, they created an atmosphere of constant terror in Sderot and surrounding Negev towns, disrupting work and school routines. Classes were cancelled, students evacuated, families began to leave Sderot in droves. It was not possible to live with the constant rocket fire. Israel ultimately concluded a "lull" agreement with the Hamas because it had no choice. Once again, the enemy had been underestimated. Critics can say that the lull agreement could have been concluded much earlier, but it is not clear that this agreement will hold, and it is fairly certain that if hostilities are renewed, the Hamas will be in a far better position to inflict casualties, as it is utilizing the lull to import quantities of weapons.

While Israel can find justifications for the large numbers of Palestinian casualties, it did not take into account the radicalizing effect of continued killing, closures and other hardships, which have worked in favor of extremists. The attempt to oust Hamas by force from Gaza failed. The killings and often arbitrary behavior at checkpoints and during curfews are clearly counterproductive, yet Israel has not done very much to correct the problem or to take humanitarian concerns into account. Hard line Israeli spokespersons will note that in war, the object is to kill as many of the enemy as possible, while suffering as few as possible casualties of your own.

As long however, as the world views the Israeli occupation as the major cause of the conflict, it is evident that Israel cannot "win the war" simply by inflicting casualties and defeating the enemy militarily, and needless brutality works against Israel and against the cause of peace.

Collective Punishment and the Intifada

Collective punishment is illegal under international law. The laws were meant to prevent repetition of atrocities of World War I and World War II where German occupation forces would kill ten noncombatant civilians for every casualty inflicted on them. The term "collective punishment" has been used, probably inappropriately, against Israel to describe the effects of closures and the embargo of the Gaza strip. Security measures inevitably restrict the liberties and adversely affect every day lives of populations subject to those restrictions. But a country at war or an occupying power has an obligation to maintain security. The leaders of the Intifada certainly inflicted "collective punishment" on Israeli citizens, whether or not they are involved in, or responsible for the occupation in any way. 

Assassinations and the Second Intifada

A large number of Palestinian casualties are due to Israeli killing of Palestinian militants who were either implicated in multiple attacks, leaders of militant factions or in process of planning an attack. These "assassinations" also result, very often, in "collateral damage" casualties - fatalities and injuries to innocent bystanders.

The Israeli justifications for these policies is that there is no way to arrest these people (arrests of others often cause both Palestinian and IDF casualties) as they are heavily guarded. The Palestinian Authority 

Disengagement and the Second Intifada

The disengagement plan was originally conceived as evacuation of settlers from a limited part of the Gaza strip without withdrawal of the IDF. The implementation of the plan was quite different owing to US pressure and considerations of international law. The idea was to demonstrate to Palestinians and to the world that Israel was in earnest about peace, to reduce friction between Palestinian Arabs and Jewish settlers in the occupied territories and to free the best units of three IDF brigades that were engaged in defending the settlements.

The disengagement was not negotiated with the Palestinian Authority. At the time the disengagement was planned, Yasser Arafat was running the Palestinian Authority. Israelis believed from passed experience that negotiations with him would result only in increasing Arafat's legitimacy and extracting actual Israeli concessions in return for Palestinian concessions that would not be honored.

However, Israel believed that if it withdrew entirely from the Gaza strip it could no longer be accused of occupying Gaza. To this end, it went to great lengths to allow international control of the Rafah border crossing. The withdrawal of IDF troops was also no doubt due to American pressure.

However, the withdrawal from northern Gaza settlements gave the Palestinians a launching area for firing rockets and mortars into Israel. Because the disengagement was not due to an agreement with the Palestinian Authority, it weakened the Palestinian Authority and contributed to the rise of the Hamas. It is likely however, that the Palestinian polity would have fallen under the influence of Hamas after the death of Yasser Arafat in any case. 

The massive and obvious failure of the disengagement weakened the moderate cause in Israel and allowed the right-wing opponents of disengagement to point out that concessions to the Palestinians only lead to further violence and to substantiate their claim that a Palestinian state would be a base for extremists to attack Israel.

Role and Rise of Hamas in the Second Intifada

From the beginning of the Intifada it should have been obvious that the legitimation of open violence and extremism would lead to increasing influence of extremist groups,  particularly the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which was under the control of Iran, and the Hamas, which came to be partly under the control of Iran and Syria during the Intifada. At the same time, given the program of groups like the Popular Resistance Committees and their splinter the Jayish al Islam, it seems that Intifada was at least partly powered by these groups from the start and was, from their point of view, designed as a vehicle that would bring them to power at the expense of the secular Fatah that had announced its agreement to a "historic compromise." Unbelievably, the Fatah helped to dig its own grave.

In his interviews with Al Hayat, Gaza Preventive Security chief Mohamed Dahlan stated:

Al-Hayat: "You said that every time Yasser Arafat left on a [diplomatic] visit, Hamas would prepare an operation. Who carried out the suicide operations in the Palestinian territories [at the time], Hamas or [Islamic] Jihad?"

Dahlan: "Hamas and [Islamic] Jihad [carried out the operations], but later they were joined by Fatah. [Fatah] is a liberal organization and not an extremist religious one, but it also carried out martyrdom operations during the Intifada. I do not want to assess the harm and benefit of these operations at the moment, but based on a general assessment of the years of Intifada, [I would say that] the harm outweighed the benefit, and the proof of this is our present situation. I judge things by their outcome."

Al-Hayat: "Who was responsible for the militarization of the Intifada?"

Dahlan: "We were all responsible. I clearly admit - it was a collective mistake..."  (Al-Hayat (London), August 30, 2008 Memri Translation)

Both statements are true. Examination of the record shows that the first suicide bombings were carried out by the Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The Fatah had no choice but to follow, because the glorification of "martyrdom" and legitimation of of violence which they themselves had initiated meant that only extremism could gain political legitimacy. Within the Palestinian polity, there could really be no contest. Fatah was both officially committed to peace with Israel and also practically bound to some extent by agreement with the US and EU and Israel, to which it had to at least pay lip service. Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which declared that their goal is elimination of all of Israel, were not bound in this way and would necessarily win any contest for extremism.

The rise of Hamas was also fueled by notorious Fatah corruption. While Palestinians are officially quick to defend the honor of "Abu Ammar" (Yasser Arafat), numerous Palestinian jokes attest to the corrupt state of the Palestinian authority, which was known as "Abu Ammar and the forty thieves. In one joke, Suha Arafat, Yassers' wife calls him at an important meeting of the Palestinian government and says:

"Dear Yasser, please come home. I think there are thieves in our house."

"Nonsense dear Suha, all the thieves are here with me."

Over a billion dollars are rumored or known to have gone into Swiss bank accounts and slush funds. Some of this money may have been used to purchase arms, but some was used to support Suha Arafat and others in luxury. European donations meant for Palestinian housing for the poor were diverted to luxury villas for Fatah bigwigs, each of whom notoriously drove a fancy Mercedes Benz automobile. The Palestinian Authority built hardly any hospitals and ran an inadequate school system. Hamas raised funds to fill these needs in part and bought popularity among the masses. Of course, the Hamas schools give students an Islamist extremist education.

Role of the United States - Prior to the 2006 elections, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice insisted that Hamas be allowed to take part. This decision was forced over the objections of both Israel and Palestinian Authority President Abbas, and even though it contradicted provisions of the 2005 Oslo Interim Agreement which forbade the participation of candidates who espoused violence. Rice felt that the elections would not be "democratic." But the Hamas refused to recognize the legal basis of Palestinian Authority, which was formed in order to negotiate peace with Israel.

"Landslide" "Democratic" victory - Some claim that Hamas won a "landslide" "Democratic" victory in the Palestinian elections of 2006.  The Hamas victory in the 2006 elections was a narrow victory in the popular vote (Hamas had an advantage of 2-3% over Fatah). Neither party had a majority of the vote. Fatah, together with other secular parties had a majority of the vote. However, Hamas won a landslide victory in the seats given to Palestinian Legislative Council delegates because Fatah ran two or three "independent" candidates for almost every seat, dividing the Fatah vote among them, while Hamas ran only one "Change and Reform" party candidate.

When election results were announced, it was explained by apologists that Palestinians had voted for Hamas because they wanted good clean democratic government, but did not agree with Hamas policies regarding the peace process. That view seems to be borne out by poll after poll, which shows that Palestinians support the peace process and a two state solution as proposed by Fatah.  If that is the case, than the Hamas policies of non-recognition of Israel and refusal to honor agreements did not ever get a democratic mandate.

Hamas took power in Gaza in a bloody coup in June of 2007. Fatah supporters were executed by having their knees broken and then being thrown off buildings. In at least one case, a man was cut into "steaks" which were sent to his family. At the time, Hamas offered no explanation or justification for its actions. Later, Hamas and Hamas apologists claimed that the Fatah, aided by the United States and Hamas, had plotted a coup of their own. At the time, the head of Fatah forces in Gaza, Preventive Security Chief Dahlan, was in Germany being treated for knee problems. Fatah had not received any arms or training from the United States. No documentation or other proof has been offered to support the contention that a Fatah coup was planned, other than generalized statements by US officials of their intention to support the Fatah and urging Mahmoud Abbas to take a firm stance.

The 'Siege' of Gaza in the Second Intifada

When Hamas won the Palestinian elections, the quartet, including the EU, Russia, US and UN, instituted sanctions against the Hamas until and unless they would accept the Oslo peace process and the road map, agree to recognize the existence of Israel  and to renounce violence. These were basically the same conditions demanded by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. As long as the Hamas refused to accept these principles, an aid embargo was instituted against the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas. The embargo intensified when the Hamas coup usurped power in Gaza, since they took over the Rafah terminal and refused to allow the EU observers to do their work, on occasion attacking Israeli crossing points as well.

Despite obvious hardships that were created by the embargo and blockade, it is  apparent that there is no "genocide" or grave humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Photos of stores show that they are well stocked, presumably through the tunnels built under the Rafah crossing. Palestinian health officials in Gaza complained repeatedly that the Hamas had confiscated fuel intended for hospitals to use in running its vehicles. Photos of "candle light" vigils held to protest power cuts clearly show neon signs lighting the background. There is also no doubt that part or most of the reason that Israel has not taken more drastic steps is fear of criticism by world public opinion and fear of UN condemnation.

Israeli Military Victory in the Second Intifada

Israel has thus far achieved remarkable success in combating a guerrilla/terrorist uprising ("asymmetrical warfare") though such victories are supposed to be rare, and though the US and Iraqi government have not had similar success in Iraq. It should be pointed out that the struggle is not over, and may be renewed at any time by the Hamas in Gaza. Israeli success, such as it was, was due to several factors:

Superb intelligence, developed primarily after operation Defensive Shield, which allowed pinpointing the planners of attacks before they could be carried out. The intelligence substrate includes both information supplied by Defensive Shield and a network of collaborators.

Fence - Ability to fence off and isolate the Palestinian population, containing potential malefactors to Gaza and areas in the West Bank. The Security Fence and network of checkpoints which constitute harassment for Palestinians make it much easier to control the movement of arms and of malefactors. Numerous attacks were stopped by discoveries at checkpoints.

Presence in the area - The role of this factor was conclusively demonstrated by the withdrawal from Gaza. The Gaza security fence could prevent most attacks within Israel, but it could not prevent the firing of increasingly lethal rockets. Without a security presence within Gaza it was also impossible to prevent the Hamas coup. It is true that IDF could not prevent the firing of rockets and mortars when it occupied Gaza, but this was generally on a much smaller scale.

Willingness of troops and their officers to "get dirty" and engage the enemy, rather than staying cooped in to designated bases as US troops did in Iraq for a long time.

Undercover and covert operations units capable of being indistinguishable from Palestinian population.

Prospects for Negotiations during the Second Intifada

As long as the Hamas remains in power in Gaza and under the control of Syria and Iran, there cannot be real peace negotiations or a final settlement for numerous reasons, to be listed below. Nonetheless, the peace process and peace negotiations must, paradoxically continue, in order to provide a moderate alternative to the Hamas.

There cannot be peace while the Hamas remain in power or even are a major force in the Palestinian territories, at least not without Syrian and Iranian agreement because:

Hamas and Islamic Jihad are opposed to peace in principle. Even if they want to moderate their policy they could not do so without the approval of Iran and Syria, neither of whom are interested in furthering peace between Israel and the Palestinains, which is an American goal and does not serve their purposes.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad have demonstrated repeatedly that they can disrupt negotiations and torpedo any settlement by perpetrating terror attacks.

The Israeli public will not support the necessary serious concessions to the Palestinians as long as right wing extremists can convince the Israeli public that there is a serious and demonstrable threat that a Palestinian state will be a terrorist state controlled by the Hamas and other extremists.

The Palestinian leadership cannot make the necessary serious concessions to Israel as long as Hamas and Islamic Jihad perpetuate the culture of martyrdom and extremism and insist that any concessions are betrayal of the Palestinian cause.

The Second Intifada and the final settlement

In theory, the shape of the final settlement that would create a Palestinian state is known, and it would follow approximately the Geneva Accord or The Clinton Bridging Proposals, at least according to US officials and Israeli moderates. In practice, this solution is not politically achievable, and the Second Intifada made it more difficult to achieve. Israelis may have been willing to support a "shared Jerusalem" or divided Jerusalem before the outbreak of the violence. However, the violence, which broke out in Jerusalem, provided the Israeli right with tangible support for its claims about the security risks of dividing Jerusalem, and destroyed the political base of the Israeli peace movement. About 55% of Israelis, as of this writing, oppose any negotiations over Jerusalem. Without an agreement over Jerusalem, peace is impossible. At the same time, the Palestinian authority consistently supported maximalist claims regarding the return of Palestinian refugees and Jerusalem. Israelis will not agree to return of more than a symbolic number of refugees, or to elimination of all Israeli rights in the old city of Jerusalem. Massive return of refugees would mean the end of Jewish self-determination, and that is the intent of the demand for return of refugees. By stressing these issues and the "Palestinian State with its capital in Jerusalem" repeatedly, both before and during the Intifada, the Palestinian leadership made it increasingly difficult for their own negotiators to find a politically viable compromise. The Second Intifada also made it difficult for Palestinians to accept the same solution that they had rejected before the Intifada had imposed so much sacrifice on them.

On the other hand, the violence of the Second Intifada produced two somewhat positive effects. There is a growing "lobby" against further violence within the Palestinian population. In Israel, there is growing alienation between the majority of the polity and the settler lobby. While Israelis see the establishment of a Palestinian state as a security problem, and are afraid that concessions will embolden extremists, they are no longer enamored of "greater Israel" and they become increasingly revolted by the minority of settlers who attack both the government and the IDF, as these carry out policies of eliminating illegal outposts.  

Is the Second Intifada Over?

The Second Intifadah was considered officially "over" in February 2005, but violence, by whatever name, erupted again in 2006 following the election of Hamas and the Hamas coup. In the near future (end of 2008, beginning of 2009) the lull agreement with the Hamas in Gaza will expire and there is no guarantee that both sides will want to renew it. In January 2009, according to Hamas, the term of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will expire, and violence may erupt either between Palestinians or between Palestinians and Israel or both, unless there are elections.

Second Intifada vs First Intifada

The name "Intifada" means "shaking up" and its use is intended to relate the violence to the first Intifada of the 1980s. The following differences should be noted between the first Intifada and the second:

Spontaneity - The First Intifada was clearly a spontaneous uprising and the perpetrators were mostly untrained youths. Though Palestinian organizations took some part in it after it started, the various armed factions were not prominent. The second Intifada was dominated by armed factions, financed by the PLO and instigated by Marwan Barghouti, by his own admission.

Violence - The violence of the first Intifada consisted mostly of youths throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers in the occupied territories, while the second was typified by machine gun fire on civilian neighborhoods in Jerusalem and bombings and suicide bombers in Tel Aviv, Netanya, Haifa and other towns and cities far removed from the  West Bank.

Resolution - The first Intifada ended in total failure, with no concrete gains. It did bring the Palestinian issue to world attention and helped to catalyze the subsequent peace process.  The Second Intifada is not yet resolved. Palestinians have made material gains: Autonomous rule in West Bank and Gaza, Israeli settlements and IDF evacuated from Gaza, UN resolutions and US support for a Palestinian state.

Ami Isseroff

November 11, 2008

Synonyms and alternate spellings: Al- Aqsa Intifada, Intifadah etc.

Further Information: Second Intifada Timeline  Recent history - Israeli-Palestinian conflict

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