Second Intifada -
: 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
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
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.
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
Major Events of the Intifada
(See also - Second Intifada
||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
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.
||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
|Jan 21, 2001
||Taba talks aborted because of Israeli elections, come close to
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
Report - Official Presentation
|June 13, 2001
|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).
|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
|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
agreement, after Israel fails to oust Hamas or stop rocket fire
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
Al-Dura, whether really dead or not,
became a hero in the Arab world. Stamps were issued in his honor.
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
(see Why Oslo failed
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,
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
The withdrawal contributed to the Intifada in another way, since
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."
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  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
"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
... 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
... "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
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
"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
established by the Oslo accords or even, at the start, large scale military
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
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:
News, Oct 31, 2008)
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
This was followed in March of 2001, by an equally bellicose and
uncompromising stance at the Arab Emergency Summit in Amman. That document
Emergency Summit, 2001)
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.
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
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 '…"
(Al Rai, (Jordan),
September 27, 2004. Translated by
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...
Later that year, he also said, in an interview with As Sharq
"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
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
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
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
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
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
Disengagement and the Second Intifada
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
At the time the disengagement was planned,
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
it weakened the
and contributed to the rise of the
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
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
Dahlan: "We were all responsible. I clearly admit - it was a
collective mistake..." (Al-Hayat (London), August 30, 2008
Both statements are true. Examination of the record shows that the first
suicide bombings were carried out by the Hamas and
Islamic Jihad. The
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
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
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
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
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
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.
November 11, 2008
Synonyms and alternate spellings: Al- Aqsa Intifada, Intifadah etc.
Further Information: Second Intifada
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