Ramallah (In Palestine Today) – September 28, marks the 21th anniversary of the second Palestinian intifada (Al-Aqsa Intifada), which broke out on September 28, 2000 in occupied Jerusalem, and lasted for five years.
4,412 Palestinians were murdered and 48,322 others were injured during the second Intifada, while 1,069 Israelis were killed and 4,500 others were injured.
The second Intifada flamed up after the late Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque under protection of the Israeli army and police forces.
Sharon wandered the courtyards of the Mosque, stating that the “Temple Mount” would remain under Israeli sovereignty, which caused clashes to erupt between Palestinian worshippers and Israeli soldiers present at the scene.
The clashes extended from occupied Jerusalem to all cities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and developed into violent confrontations.
During the second Intifada, several leaders of Palestinian political parties and military movements were assassinated by the Israeli forces.
Hamas movement lost a number of its founders and members of its political bureau, notably Ahmed Yassin, the group’s founder (March 2004), Abdel Aziz Rantisi (April 2004), Salah Shehadeh (July 2002), Ismail Abu Shanab (August 2003), Jamal Salim and Jamal Mansour (July 2001).
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) also lost its secretary-general, Abu Ali Mustafa (Mustafa al-Zubri) in August 2001.
In April 2002, the Israeli army arrested Marwan Barghouti, a prominent Fatah leader, and sentenced him to life imprisonment.
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat died during the second Intifada, on November 11, 2004, amid suspicions that he had been poisoned by Israeli agents.
Two years before his death, he was besieged by the Israeli army in his office in Ramallah.
Israel launched wide-scale military incursions during the Intifada in different West Bank and Gaza Strip cities, during which time thousands of homes belonging to Palestinians were destroyedand thousands of agricultural dunums bulldozed.
The second Intifada also witnessed Israel’s reoccupation of West Bank cities in 2002.
On the other hand, resistance fighters belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine assassinated Israel’s Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi in October 2001.
One of the most prominent events of the second Intifada was the execution of 11-year-old Palestinian child Mohammed al-Durra, two days after Sharon stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque. A video taken by a French television reporter showed scenes of the execution of the child, Al-Durra, who was hiding with his father behind a cement barrel on Salah al-Din Street, south of Gaza City.
The execution led to outrage among Palestinians who organized angry demonstrations and clashed with the Israeli army. Dozens of them were killed and injured as a result.
‘Al-Aqsa’ Intifada had seen an escalation in military action between Palestinian factions and Israeli army forces.
The second Intifada was characterized by the development of Palestinian resistance tools and weapons compared to the first Intifada, in which Palestinians relied on stones and Molotov cocktails.
Hamas movement acquired rockets to bomb Israeli settlements, as Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the movement, shelled the settlement of Sderot in southern Israel with the first homemade Palestinian missile, one year after the intifada began.
Many observers consider that the Intifada ceased on February 8, 2005, after an Egyptian-sponsored truce agreement between Palestinians and Israelis.
Several months after the Intifada came to an end, Israel fully withdrew from the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2005, under the name of the “unilateral disengagement plan”.
The first Palestinian Intifada, named the “Stone Intifada”, began on December 8, 1987 in Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, and then exceeded to other Palestinian cities.
The first Intifada broke out when an Israeli truck driver ran over a group of Palestinian workers at the Beit Hanoun (Erez) checkpoint in the northern Gaza Strip.
The first Intifada was called the Intifada of stones because the stone was the main weapon of the Palestinians in their confrontations with Israeli forces.
The first Intifada ceased in September 1993 after the signing of the Oslo Agreement between the PLO and Israel.
Source: Palestine Online