Since British army led by General Allenby occupied Palestine early in the 20th century, Palestinian society has been witness to popular uprisings against the occupiers
Since British army led by General Allenby occupied Palestine early in the 20th century, Palestinian society has been witness to popular uprisings against the occupiers, including the Boraq uprising (1929) and a general intifada from 1936 to 1939 inspired by the martyrdom of Sheikh EzzedinQassam. However, following the fabrication of Israel, in 1948, Palestinian struggle was largely led by leftist groups, with masses having already been sidelined.
Inspired by the advent and victory of the Islamic Revolution of Iran in 1979, the Palestinian masses took to the streets once more and embarked on uprisings that were known as intifadas. Below we review the major intifadas of the Palestinian people.
First intifada (Rock intifada)
The first ever presence of the masses in the scene of struggle is said to be dating back to 1987. Known as First Intifada, it lasted for six years and ended up in the Oslo accord.
The driving forces behind the intifada were as follows.
- Harsh economic conditions that were imposed by the Zionists on the Palestinian nation in a bid to push them to leave their houses before the former usurp the properties
- Inability of the Palestinian groups in countering the occupiers especially after the PLO, as the grouping of Palestinian movements, left Lebanon for Tunisia in 1982, triggering a vacuum of leadership among the Palestinians; Palestinian mass uprising filled the void and transferred the leadership from outside into the occupied community.
- A trend of compromise started by the then Palestinian combatant groups
- Political, social and security pressures by Israel, targeting the Palestinian dignity
- Frustration among Palestinians over any serious support by the Arab states after the latter, led by Egypt opted for compromise with Israel
- Frustration about any serious pursuit of Palestinian issue and rights by the international community
- And, intensification of Israeli suppression
These conditions led to an accumulation of anger among Palestinians which let out after an Israeli truck driver run over a group of Palestinian workers on December 9, 1987 in Gaza in an incident that served as a trigger to touch off the first intifada.
People started to march in Jabalia however the protests soon spread to the entire Gaza and the West Bank.
The first intifada had several features, namely:
- It was popular
- Palestinians from different walks of life were present in the scene
- The scope of struggle was the entire Palestine
- Methods of struggle morphed from rock throwing in the first year of the intifada into martyrdom-seeking operations in the sixth year
- Mosques played a significant role in organizing the protests
Israel for its part adopted several strategies for containing the massive struggle, namely:
- Harsh repression of protests
- Bisection of Palestinian districts by declaration of military zones
- Mass killings of Palestinians in such locations as al-Aqsa Mosque, al-Khalil, Nehalein, al-Nasirat, Sheikh Redwan, al—Nasir, al-Sabra, al-Dorj, Gaza and Khan Yunis
- Mass arrest of protesters with figures of arrests put at over 20 thousand
- Assassination of Palestinian leaders, namely Khalil Wazir, known as Abu Jihad in Tunisia
- Mass banishment of 417 Palestinian leaders to Lebanon in a bid to create a vacuum of leaders
- Employment of inhuman methods including the breaking of Palestinian bones
The intifada however was sidelines by certain regional developments including the occupation of Kuwait, opening the way for the PLO to hijack the popular struggle which had had the least in the popular struggle.
The developments took place while the Iranian leadership never allowed the Palestinian issue to be sidelined by any other issue even amid the executed Saddam Hussein's western-backed imposed war. Under the very policy, Iran no longer welcomed the then PLO chief Yasser Arafat over his failures to attend to the Palestinian issue.
The first intifada has several achievements:
- The Palestinian community realized that it must rely on its own potentials in the face of the occupier enemy.
- The Palestinian community found that the Zionist regime was highly fragile in the face of any popular move by the nation.
- Popular support emerged and grew for the Palestinian resistance at regional and international levels.
- The Israeli big lie that the Palestinian land lacked a nation was falsified in the eyes of the western public opinion.
- The Zionists were forced to recognize the Palestinian identity unlike their strong rejection of the idea before the first intifada. The Israeli recognition was stipulated in the Oslo Accord.
Second intifada (Al-Aqsa Intifada)
The first intifada was over following the Oslo accord between the PLO and Israel. Under the accord, the PLO leadership was allowed to return to Palestine along with 700 PLO paratroopers to eventually form a Palestinian Autonomous Authority based in Ramallah.
Leaders of the Palestinian intifada declared the first intifada over in an effort to avoid any internal Palestinian conflict and to allow the PLO leadership to test its potentials. The Zionist regime however adopted a policy of procrastination concerning the Oslo accord and continued occupation policies across the Palestinian lands.
The Palestinian popular resistance was worried about the continued Israeli aggression and found an opportunity to let out its concerns after the then Israeli Minister of Settlement, Ariel Sharon trespassed the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in September 2000 in breach of the existing agreements. Accompanied by some two thousand security forces, Sharon made a lecture and declared the Oslo accord as over. He also said he would repress any protests in 100 days and would annex the West Bank to Israel. The pronouncements triggered a second intifada that continued until 2005 when Israel withdrawn the Gaza Strip.
The second intifada had several features, namely:
- It was popular, Islamic and all-inclusive
- Armed resistance groups showed a successful and effective display in anti-occupation operations
- The military wing of the Fatah movement got active and joined the mainstream Palestinian Islamic resistance
- Application of rockets against occupiers’ positions for a first time
- Support of Arab and Islamic states
Israel for its part adopted several strategies for containing the massive struggle, namely:
- Hard suppression of protesters
- Assassination of leaders of the revolution, namely Sheikh Ahmad Yassin and Dr. Abd al-Aziz Rantisi who were among the Hamas leaders
- Massive arrests of Palestinians in the West Bank
- Intensification of divisive policies against Palestinian groups, namely Hamas and Fatah
- Disarming of the West Bank in a project led by the US General Deiton
- Construction of separation wall between the West Bank and the 1948-occupied territories
The second intifada had several achievements namely:
- Security and economic costs grow for the Zionist occupiers
- Serious drop in the arrivals of Jews into the occupied territories
- Growth in reverse immigration by the occupiers from Palestine
- Palestinian seriously challenged the security-military power of the occupiers
- The occupation of Gaza was over after 38 years
- Many world states recognized the legitimacy of the Palestinian Islamic resistance
- The Palestinian community embraced the resistance movement by voting to Hamas as the representative of the resistance helping it to form a resistance government in Gaza
- The Palestinian resistance got access to more advanced weapons
- The racist mood of the Zionist occupiers was revealed in the eyes of the western public opinion especially after it intentionally targeted 9-year-old Palestinian minor, Mohammad Dura who had taken shelter behind his father in a clash. TV networks covered the shooting.
- The Israeli occupiers changed their strategy (occupation of lands from Nile to Euphrates) into consolidation of the occupied lands and pursuit of politico-economic influence over the states located between Nile to Euphrates.
Third intifada (Quds Intifada)
Israel imposed some four wars on Lebanon and Gaza from 2006 to 2014 but got none of its initially stated goals. It then changed its regional strategy into inciting insecurity in the regional states in collaboration with the US, Britain, France, Turkey and certain other regional states, led by Saudi Arabia. The strategy led to the sedition of the ISIS terror group that virtually sidelined the Palestinian issue in the regional and international arenas.
Amid the chaotic situation, the occupiers expanded their occupation of Palestinian lands and stormed the sacred sites in the occupied al-Quds as a daily policy. The Israeli practice served as a serious threat to the identity of the religious sites, namely the al-Aqsa mosque, prompting the Palestinian youths to commence an uprising in defense of their faith that was later called the al-Quds Intifada.
The third intifada started from October 2015 and continued to date, showing to be able to remove the challenges ahead in the face of the Israeli occupiers.
There are several motivations for the third intifada:
- The Palestinian issue was sidelined in the agenda of Arab states and many Muslim states.
- The Arab states engaged in cooperation with Israel.
- A section of the Palestinian resistance engaged in talks with the Zionist regime as part of a ‘ceasefire.’ A major move was necessary in order to withdraw from the situation.
- Syria’s support to Palestinians stopped due to a terrorist crisis in the country.
- PA compromise talks with the Zionist regime ended up in stalemate.
- Attacks on the al-Aqsa mosque grew posing a threat to the Islamic identity of the site.
- Judazation policy intensified in the al-Quds.
- West Bank youths saw no clear future in the Palestinian issue.
- Israel intensified its settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and especially around al-Quds.
- The siege on Gaza intensified.
- The western governments increased their support to the Israeli aggressive policies in the international community.
The third intifada had several features, namely:
- Massive participation of youths in the scene
- Individual operations in which every Palestinian realizes his/her mission and does his/her part
- The very structure that led the intifada remains hidden
- Palestinian groups showed a lackluster presence in the field even in declaring their support to the intifada
- Newer methods are used including stabbing and car run-over
- Massive use of social media by the Palestinian youths in order to reflect their demands and missions
Israel for its part adopted several strategies for containing the ongoing struggle, namely:
- Adoption of harsh policies including a ban on carrying of any sharp tool by the Palestinians
- Growth of security coordination with the Palestinian authority in a bid to thwart the individual operations
- Intensification of pressure over the families of those who carried out anti-occupation operations, including by demolition of their house or arrest of other family members
- Delay or refusal to deliver the bodies of those involved in the anti-occupation operations
- Assassination of active youths by pseudo-Arab terror squads
- Declaration of policy of field execution of intifada activists
- Intensification of the so-called administrative arrests
The third intifada has already had several achievements namely:
- Spike in security costs in the Israeli community
- Inflicting of heavy economic damages on Israel, namely in tourism
- Imposition of an atmosphere of fear on the Zionist community
- Drop in pressures over Gaza to the extent that Egypt facilitated passage through the Rafah crossing
- Growth in international pressure over Zionists namely by the BDS campaign
- The declaration of readiness in the occupied West Bank for joining armed struggle against the Zionist occupiers
- The engagement by the West Bank in the field of production of domestic weapons and application of the weapons in anti-occupation operations
The third intifada is still on showing it may offer the Palestinian community the necessary options for passing through the current stalemates provided that the Palestinian groups follow the divine order ‘hold fast to rope of Allah and never divide’ and tread the track of unity. It is also imperative for the Muslim community to restore the Palestinian issue as their absolute priority and engage in supporting the intifada as a divine mission.