The Second Intifada - Introduction

The Second Intifada, commonly referred to as the Al-Aqsa Intifada or the second uprising, began in late 2000 as a result of Israeli occupation policies that not only continued to violate international law but to deprive Palestinians of their basic human rights.

On Sept. 28, 2000, Ariel Sharon appeared at the Al Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City with more than 1,000 Israeli police. In a blatant attempt to provoke Palestinians, he repeated a phrase that was broadcast during 1967 Six Day war when Israeli Occupation Forces seized East Jerusalem, “’The Temple Mount is in our hands,’" Sharon shouted. Palestinians reacted almost immediately to the threat to Al Aqsa, the third holiest site in Islam.

The Israeli Occupation Forces launched a series of sweeping military offensives and administrative policies designed to collectively punish Palestinians for the uprising. The United Nations quickly released Resolution1322 citing Israel for the use of excessive force against the Palestinian people. The resolution came less than three weeks after the start of the violence by which time hundreds of Palestinian had already been killed and even more injured.

According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, at least 4,973 Palestinian civilians were killed over the course of the Second Intifada. Among them were 1,262 children, 274 women, and 32 medical personnel attempting to administer aid to injured civilians. More than 10,000 children were wounded during the five years of violence, as reported by the Swiss-based Defence for Children International, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting child rights. Most of the deaths and injuries came as a result of air strikes against densely populated areas in the Gaza Strip and major land assaults on various West Bank cities, villages, and refugee camps.

Throughout the Second Intifada, Israeli forces also enforced an oppressive siege on the entirety of Palestine. Initially, Israel placed severe restrictions on Palestinians’ ability to move. Israeli human rights group B’Tselem reports that Israel blocked access to Palestinian cities and villages with “concrete blocks, piles of dirt, deep trenches, or checkpoints”. Israeli authorities also enforced an early curfew that prohibited Palestinians from even being outside of their own homes at certain points throughout the day and night.

On June 16, 2002, Israel added another restriction to its list of human rights violations by beginning construction of the Apartheid Wall. Most of the wall has been built on Palestinian land, allowing Israel to annex the land that lay between the wall and 1948 Palestine (today, called Israel). Two years later, the International Court of Justice ruled illegal and ordered the construction to be stopped.Israel has yet to abide by the ruling.

Although the exact end-date for the Second Intifada is still disputed, most sources recognize early 2005 as the period of time during which the uprising subsided. In addition to the thousands of deaths and injuries, Israeli Occupation Forces demolished some 5,000 Palestinian homes and damaged another 6,500 beyond repair, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.

~ American Muslims for Palestine, 2012