First Intifada Explained

Conflict:First Intifada
Partof:the Israeli–Palestinian conflict
Date:December 1987–1993
Place:West Bank, Gaza Strip, Israel
Casus:Growing sense of frustration among Palestinians
Result:The Palestinians did not achieve independence. The Intifada contributed to expedite the process leading to the Oslo Accords
Combatant1:
Combatant2:UNCI:
Palestinian dissidents
PLO
Hamas
PFLP
Commander1: Yitzhak Shamir
Commander2: Unified National Leadership of the Uprising[1]
Yasser Arafat
Casualties1:160 Israelis total:- 100 Israeli civilians killed by Palestinians, 47 of them were Israeli settlers[2]
- 60 Israeli Security forces personnel killed by Palestinians
1,400 Israeli civilians and 1,700 Israeli soldiers wounded.[3]
Casualties2:2,162 Palestinians total:- 1,087 Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces
- 75 Palestinians killed by Israeli civilians
- Approximately 1,000 Palestinians
> killed by Palestinians
Notes:
>Were killed under the accusation of being collaborators and informants of Israel.

The First Intifada (also known as simply the "Intifada") was a Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories,[4] which lasted from December 1987 to 1993. The uprising began in the Jabalia refugee camp and quickly spread throughout Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.[5]

Palestinian actions primarily included nonviolent civil disobedience and resistance,[6] and it was the first time that Palestinians acted together and as a nation.[7] There were general strikes, boycotts on Israeli products, refusal to pay taxes, graffiti, and barricades, but the Palestinian demonstrations that included stone-throwing by youths against the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) defined the violence for many.[8]

Intra-Palestinian violence was a prominent feature of the Intifada, with widespread executions of alleged Israeli collaborators.While Israeli forces killed an estimated 1,100 Palestinians and Palestinians killed 164 Israelis, Palestinians killed an estimated 1,000 other Palestinians as alleged collaborators, although fewer than half had any proven contact with the Israeli authorities.[9]

General causes

After Israel's capture of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip from Jordan and Egypt in the Six-Day War in 1967, frustration grew among Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied territories. The "Iron Fist" policy began by Israel in 1985, economic integration and increasing Israeli settlements which the then Israeli minister of Economics and Finance, Gad Ya'acobi, described as "a creeping process of de facto annexation" contributed to a growing militancy in Palestinian society.[10] According to Donald Neff, "The immediate cause" of the First Intifada came on 8 December 1987, "when an Israeli army tank transporter ran into a group of Palestinians from Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza Strip, killing four and injuring seven. An Israeli salesman had been stabbed to death in Gaza two days earlier and there were suspicions among the Palestinian Arabs that the traffic collision had not been an accident."[11]

Background

The First Intifada came when Palestinians were protesting against Israeli acts that they regarded as brutal and when there was a political stalemate between parties involved in the Arab–Israeli conflict. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) had not brought about any solutions to alleviate Palestinian suffering and in 1982, during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the organization had been forced to relocate their offices to Tunis.

The Arab summit in Amman in November 1987 focused on the Iran–Iraq War, and the Palestinian issue was shunted to the sidelines for the first time in years.[12] [13] Israeli military occupation of Southern Lebanon and the continued Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip contributed to growing discontent with the status quo.

Catalysts

Palestinians and their supporters regard the Intifada as a protest against Israeli repression including extrajudicial killings, mass detentions, house demolitions, deportations, and so on.[14] While relatively few houses were demolished in the years before the Intifada, Israelis believed that house demolitions had "deterrent value". After the Intifada began, and the PLO began to compensate affected families, demolitions "were transformed into a stimulus to further escalation of resistance."[15] Further causes to the Intifada can be seen in the Egyptian withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the Jordanian monarchy growing weary of pursuing its claims to the West Bank.

High birth rates in the Palestinian territories and the limited allocation of land for new building and agriculture contributed to the increasing population density and a rise in unemployment. While income from manual labor in Israel benefited some Palestinians, unemployment was increasing, even for those with university degrees. At the time of the Intifada, only one in eight college-educated Palestinians could find degree-related work.[16]

One incident that was often claimed as a motivation is the perceived IDF failure in the "Night of the Gliders", or the "Kibia action", in which a Palestinian guerrilla infiltrated an IDF army camp from Lebanon and killed six soldiers.[17]

Leadership

The Intifada was not initiated by any single individual or organization, but the PLO soon established itself at the forefront, enhancing their presence in the territories. Local leadership came from groups and organizations affiliated with the PLO that operated within the Occupied Territories; Fatah, the Popular Front, the Democratic Front and the Palestine Communist Party.[18] The PLO's rivals in this activity were the Islamic organizations, Hamas and Islamic Jihad as well as local leadership in cities such as Beit Sahour and Bethlehem. However, the uprising was predominantly led by community councils led by Hanan Ashrawi, Faisal Husseini and Haidar Abdel-Shafi, that promoted independent networks for education (underground schools as the regular schools were closed by the military in reprisal for the uprising), medical care, and food aid.[19] The Unified National Leadership of the Uprising (UNLU) gained credibility where the Palestinian society complied with the issued communiques.[18]

The Intifada

On December 6, 1987, a Jewish businessman was stabbed to death while shopping in Gaza. Two days later, four residents of the Jabalya refugee camp—the largest of the eight refugee camps in the Gaza Strip—were killed in a traffic accident involving an Israeli trucker.[3] Rumors circulated that the accident was, in fact, a deliberate act of revenge for the stabbing of the Jewish businessman. Mass rioting broke out on December 9 after a Palestinian teen was shot dead by an Israeli soldier after having thrown a Molotov cocktail at an army patrol.

Hours later, mayhem spread throughout almost all the Arab communities in the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem.[3] Within days the occupied territories were engulfed in a wave of demonstrations and commercial strikes on an unprecedented scale. Equally unprecedented was the extent of mass participation in these disturbances: tens of thousands of ordinary civilians, including women and children. The Israeli security forces used the full panoply of crowd control measures to try and quell the disturbances: cudgels, nightsticks, tear gas, water cannons, rubber bullets, and live ammunition. But the disturbances only gathered momentum.[20]

Soon there was widespread rock-throwing, blocked roads and tire burnings were reported throughout the territories. By December 12, six Palestinians had died and 30 had been injured in the violence. The next day, rioters threw a gasoline bomb at the U.S. consulate in East Jerusalem though no one was hurt.[3]

Other rumors circulated that Palestinian youths wounded by Israeli soldiers were being taken to an army hospital near Tel Aviv and "finished off." Another rumor, claimed Israeli troops poisoned a water reservoir in Khan Yunis. A UN official said these stories were untrue. Only the most seriously injured Palestinians were taken out of the Gaza Strip for treatment, and, in some cases, this probably saved their lives. The water was also tested and found to be uncontaminated.

The Israel Defense Forces reported more than 3,600 Molotov cocktail attacks, 100 hand grenade attacks and 600 assaults with guns or explosives. The attacks were directed at both soldiers and civilians.

Demonstrations evolved from random disturbances to more organized attacks instigated by the Palestinian leadership. By 1988, the Islamist Palestinian movements, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, emerged. The organizations were responsible for hundreds of violent acts, including kidnapping soldiers and attacking Israeli civilians.

The Israeli response to the Palestinian uprising was deadly. The IDF killed many Palestinians at the beginning of the Intifida, the majority killed during demonstrations and riots. Palestinian protests were unpredictable and the IDF was untrained in controlling them. This led to many Palestinian deaths. Israel used mass arrests of Palestinians while Palestinian leaders closed down elementary schools and women and children confronted Israeli soldiers on the border.[21]

The large number of Palestinian casualties provoked international condemnation. In subsequent resolutions, including 607 and 608, the Security Council demanded Israel cease deportations of Palestinians.

Casualties

See also: Palestinian casualties of war, Israeli casualties of war and Palestinian political violence. The Israeli army killed more than 1,000 Palestinians in the 1st intifada and more than 120,000 Palestinians were arrested in the 6 year conflict.[22] In 1990 Ktzi'ot Prison, in the Negev, held approximately one out of every 50 West Bank and Gazan males older than 16 years.[23]

Gerald Kaufman remarked: "[F]riends of Israel as well as foes have been shocked and saddened by that country's response to the disturbances."[24] In an article in the London Review of Books, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt asserted that the IDF was given truncheons and encouraged to break the bones of Palestinian protesters. Swedish branch of Save the Children estimated that, "23,600 to 29,900 children required medical treatment for their beating injuries in the first two years of the intifada", one third of whom were children under the age of ten years old.

Intra-communal violence

Between 1987-1992, Palestinians killed more than 1,100 other Palestinians. During the first 18 months of the conflict, Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel were frequently targeted. By 1990, the pace of Palestinian intra-violence grew exponentially. The Shin Bet recruited hundreds of Palestinians at this point, many of whom had close ties to Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The lawlessness of the West Bank and Gaza Strip promoted a climate of fear and violence for ordinary Palestinians.

According to the American foreign policy analyst Mitchell Bard, Palestinian death squads killed hundreds of Palestinians, often in open areas to send a message to Palestinians who thought about joining the Shin Bet. Palestinians accused of informing for Israel had no right to defend themselves publicly, and many were lynched for refusing to join protests or resistance movements.

The PLO defended the killing of Arabs accused of collaboration with Israel. Yasser Arafat, leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization at the time, personally delegated the authority to carry out executions of Palestinians.

Eventually, the PLO began to call for an end to the violence, but murders by its members and rivals continued. From 1989-1992, this intrafada claimed the lives of nearly 1,000 Palestinians.[25] Some historians have drawn parallels to the intra-Palestinian violence with the War of the Camps during the 1982 Lebanon War, and the 1930s Arab revolt.

By the end of the first intifada, which began in December 1987, the number of Palestinians murdered by their fellow Palestinians exceeded the number of Palestinians who died in clashes with Israeli soldiers. Yasser Arafat's PLO officially executed 118 Palestinians who were thought to be collaborating with Israel. By the end of the first intifada, nearly 1,000 Palestinians had died by the hand of their own people.

By June 1990, according to Benny Morris, "[T]he Intifada seemed to have lost direction. A symptom of the PLO's frustration was the great increase in the killing of suspected collaborators; in 1991 the Israelis killed more Palestinians - about 100 - about 150."[26] [27] Attempts at the peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were made at the Madrid Conference of 1991.

Other notable events

On April 19, 1988, a leader of the PLO, Abu Jihad, was assassinated in Tunis. During the rioting that followed, about 16 Palestinians were killed. In November 1988 and October 1989, the United Nations General Assembly passed resolutions condemning Israel.[28] In June of that year, the Arab League agreed to support the intifada financially at the 1988 Arab League summit. The Arab League reaffirmed its financial support in the 1989 summit.[29]

In 1989, local committees in Beit Sahour initiated a nonviolence movement to withhold taxes,[30] taking up the slogan "No Taxation Without Representation".[31] Israeli defense minister Yitzhak Rabin's response was: "We will teach them there is a price for refusing the laws of Israel."[32] When time in prison did not stop the activists, Israel crushed the boycott by imposing heavy fines and seizing and disposing of equipment, furnishings, and goods from local stores, factories and homes.[28]

The Israeli state apparatus carried out contradictory and conflicting policies that injured Israel's own interests, such as the closing of educational establishments (putting more youths onto the streets) and issuing the Shin Bet list of collaborators.[33] Suicide bombings by Palestinian militants started on April 16, 1993 with the Mehola Junction bombing, carried at the end of the Intifada.

Outcomes

The intifada was neither a military nor a guerrilla conflict. The PLO - which had limited control of the situation - never expected the uprising to make any direct gains against the Israeli state, as it was a grassroots, mass movement and not their venture. However, the Intifada did produce a number of results that Palestinians considered positive:

However, the impact on the services sector, including the important Israeli tourist industry, was notably negative.[43]

Timeline

See also

Notes

Bibliography

External links

Notes and References

  1. [#LockmanBeinin1989|Lockman; Beinin (1989)]
  2. http://www.btselem.org/english/statistics/first_Intifada_Tables.asp B'Tselem
  3. Book: Cohen, Aaron. Brotherhood of Warriors. 2008. HarperCollins. New York. 978-0-06-123615-0. pg11-12.
  4. [#LockmanBeinin1989|Lockman; Beinin (1989)]
  5. http://www.jmcc.org/research/reports/intifada.htm The Intifada - An Overview: The First Two Years
  6. [#RobertsGartonAsh2009|Roberts; Garton Ash (2009)]
  7. [#McDowall1989|McDowall (1989)]
  8. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/middle_east/03/v3_ip_timeline/html/1987.stm BBC: A History of Conflict
  9. [#LockmanBeinin1989|Lockman; Beinin (1989)]
  10. [#LockmanBeinin1989|Lockman; Beinin (1989)]
  11. http://www.washington-report.org/backissues/1297/9712081.html WRMEA
  12. [#Shalev1991|Shalev (1991)]
  13. [#NassarHeacock1990|Nassar; Heacock (1990)]
  14. [#AckermanDuVall2000|Ackerman; DuVall (2000)]
  15. [#Shalev1991|Shalev (1991)]
  16. [#AckermanDuVall2000|Ackerman; DuVall (2000)]
  17. [#Shay2005|Shay (2005)]
  18. [#LockmanBeinin1989|Lockman; Beinin (1989)]
  19. http://www.merip.org/palestine-israel_primer/intifada-87-pal-isr-primer.html MERIP
  20. [#Shlaim2000|Shlaim (2000)]
  21. http://www.mideastweb.org/Middle-East-Encyclopedia/intifada.htm Intifada
  22. http://www.washington-report.org/backissues/1297/9712081.html WRMEA
  23. Human Rights Watch (HRW) (1991) Prison Conditions in Israel and the Occupied Territories. A Middle East Watch Report. Human Rights Watch. ISBN 1 56432 011 1. Pages 18, 64.
  24. [#McDowall1989|McDowall (1989)]
  25. Web site: One Year Al-Aqsa Intifada Fact Sheets And Figures. Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group.
  26. http://www.phrmg.org/monitor2001/oct2001-collaborators.htm Collaborators, One Year Al-Aqsa Intifada
  27. [#Morris1999|Morris (1999)]
  28. [Said K. Aburish|Aburish, Said K.]
  29. [Avraham Sela|Sela, Avraham]
  30. Gradstein, Linda "Palestinians Claim Tax is Unjust, Many Don't Pay" [Ft. Lauderdale] Sun-Sentinel 8 October 1989, p. 12A
  31. Web site: Welcome To Beit Sahour Official Website. 2008-06-07.
  32. Sosebee, Stephen J. "The Passing of Yitzhak Rabin, Whose 'Iron Fist' Fueled the Intifada" The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. 31 October 1990. Vol. IX #5, pg. 9
  33. [#NassarHeacock1990|Nassar; Heacock (1990)]
  34. [#NassarHeacock1990|Nassar; Heacock (1990)]
  35. [#Alimi2006|Alimi (2006)]
  36. [#McDowall1989|McDowall (1989)]
  37. [#Shlaim2000|Shlaim (2000)]
  38. http://www.fpri.org/peacefacts/023.199511.sicherman.rabinappreciation.html Foreign Policy Research Institute
  39. [#Hiltermann1991|Hiltermann (1991)]
  40. [#Shlaim2000|Shlaim (2000)]
  41. [#Shlaim2000|Shlaim (2000)]
  42. [#RobertsGartonAsh2009|Roberts; Garton Ash (2009)]
  43. Noga Collins-kreiner, Nurit Kliot, Yoel Mansfeld, Keren Sagi (2006) Christian Tourism to the Holy Land: Pilgrimage During Security Crisis Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., ISBN 978-0-7546-4703-4 and ISBN 978-0-7546-4703-4