First Intifada Explained

Conflict:First Intifada
Partof:the Arab-Israeli conflict, Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Date:1987-1993
Place:West Bank, Gaza Strip, Israel
Casus:Growing sense of frustration among Palestinians
Result:Oslo Accords
Combatant1:
Combatant2: Palestinian dissidents
Commander1:Yitzhak Shamir
Commander2:Unified National Leadership of the Uprising[1]
Casualties1:160[2]
Casualties2:1,376 by Israeli security forces
113 by Israeli civilians
1,000 by Palestinians

The First Intifada (1987–1993) (also "intifada" and "war of the stones") was a mass Palestinian uprising against Israeli rule in the Palestinian Territories.[3] The rebellion began in the Jabalia refugee camp and quickly spread throughout Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.[4] Palestinian actions ranged from civil disobedience to violence. In addition to general strikes, boycotts on Israeli products, refusal to pay taxes, graffiti, and barricades, Palestinian demonstrations that included stone-throwing by youths against the Israel Defense Forces brought the intifada international attention.[5] Intra-Palestinian violence was also a prominent feature of the Intifada, with widespread executions of alleged Israeli collaborators contributing almost half of the death toll among Palestinians.

Over the course of the first intifada, an estimated 1,300 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces and 160 Israelis were killed by Palestinians. In addition, an estimated 1,000 Palestinians were killed by Palestinians as alleged collaborators, although fewer than half had any proven contact with the Israeli authorities.[6]

General causes

After Israel's capture of the West Bank and Gaza Strip from Egypt and Jordan in the wake of the Six-Day War in 1967, a growing sense of frustration among Palestinians living in the Israeli-occupied territories had developed. The "Iron Fist" policy launched by Israel in 1985 along with economic integration and an increase in settler activity was in what the then Israeli minister of Economics and Finance, Gad Ya'acobi, noted "a creeping process of de facto annexation" contributed to a growing militancy of Palestinian society.[7] 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."[8]

Background

The First Intifada came at a time when Palestinians were protesting acts taken by Israel that they perceived as brutal and of political stalemate with 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.[9] 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.[10] [11] 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 assert that the Intifada was a protest against Israeli repression which included extra-judicial killings, mass detentions, house demolitions, deportations, and so on.[12] While relatively few houses were demolished in the years before the Intifada, house demolitions "appeared to have deterrent value" to Israel. After the start of the Intifada, and after the PLO began compensating affected families, demolitions "were transformed into a stimulus to further escalation of resistance."[13] In addition to the political and national sentiment, further causes to the Intifada can be seen in the Egyptian withdrawal from their claims to the Gaza Strip as well as the Jordanian monarchy growing weary of supporting its claims to the West Bank.

High birth rates and the limited allocation of land for new building and agriculture contributed to the increasing density of population in the Palestinian territories and a rise in unemployment. While income from manual labor in Israel was beneficial to the Palestinian economy, jobs were growing scarcer, even for those with university degrees. At the time of the Intifada, only one in eight college-educated Palestinians could find degree-related work.[14]

One incident that was often mentioned 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 managed to kill six soldiers.

Leadership

The Palestinians felt abandoned by their Arab allies and the PLO had failed to successfully challenge Israel and establish a Palestinian state in its stead, as promised, despite thwarting Israeli attempts to organize puppet elections in the territories. The first Intifada (1987 - 1993), was a spontaneous explosion of popular resistance to the Israeli occupation, a resistance which had begun some fifty years before.

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 loyal to the PLO that operated within the Occupied Territories; Fatah, the Popular Front, the Democratic Front and the Palestine Communist Party. 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 as reprisals for the uprising), medical care, and food aid.[15] The Unified National Leadership of the Uprising (UNLU) gained credibility where the Palestinian society complied with the issued communiques.[16]

The uprising

After the traffic incident at the Erez Crossing that killed four Palestinian refugees, rumor quickly spread that the wreck was deliberate and an act of vengeance in response to the Israeli stabbed to death several days earlier in the Gaza market.[17] That evening, an uprising began in Jabalia where hundreds of Palestinians burned tires and attacked the IDF troops stationed there. The uprising spread to other Palestinian refugee camps and eventually to several major cities. On December 22, the United Nations Security Council condemned Israel in Resolution 605 for violating the Geneva Conventions due to the number of Palestinian deaths in these first few weeks of the Intifada.[18]

The IDF was given truncheons and encouraged to break the bones of Palestinian protesters. This aggressive stance was expressed by Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin during his tour of the Jalazon Refugee Camp in January 1988, when he stated "The first priority of the security forces is to prevent violent demonstrations with force, power and blows ... We will make it clear who is running the territories".[4] The 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.[19]

On April 19, 1988, a leader of the PLO, Abu Jihad, was assassinated in Tunis. During the resurgence of rioting that followed, about 16 Palestinians were killed. In November of the same year and October of the next, the United Nations General Assembly passed resolutions condemning Israel[20]

The Israeli state apparatus carried out contradictory and conflicting policies that injured Israel's own interests such as the closing of education establishments (putting more youths onto the streets) and issuing the Shin Bet list of collaborators.[21]

In 1989, local committees in Beit Sahour initiated a nonviolence movement to withhold taxes,[22] taking up the slogan "No Taxation Without Representation,"[23] the legality of which under international law is disputed. The Israeli defense minister Yitzhak Rabin response was: "We will teach them there is a price for refusing the laws of Israel."[24] When time in prison did not stop the activists, Israel crushed the boycott by imposing heavy fines while seizing and disposing the equipment, furnishings, and goods from local stores, factories, and homes.[20]

As the Intifada progressed, Israel introduced various riot control methods that had the effect of reducing the number of Palestinian fatalities. Moshe Arens subsequently proved to have a better understanding of pacification, which perhaps reflects in the lower casualty rates for the following years. Suicide bombings by Palestinian militants started in April 16, 1993 with the Mehola Junction bombing, carried out towards the end of the Intifada.[25]

In 1990, 21 Israeli soldiers confessed to frequent repeated brutal assaults against Palestinians. Yishai-Karin reported that Israeli soldiers were exposed to violence against Palestinians during the first weeks of training. The soldiers also expressed feelings of joy when they were given power to instill fear and use physical violence on the Palestinians. One soldier recalls shooting an unarmed Palestinian for no reason, "We were in a weapons carrier when this guy, around 25, passed by in the street and, just like that, for no reason - he didn't throw a stone did nothing - bang, a bullet in the stomach, he shot him in the stomach and the guy is dying on the pavement and we keep going, apathetic. No one gave him a second look,' he said.[26]

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."[27] [28] Attempts at the peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were made at the Madrid Conference of 1991.

Outcome

The intifada was not a military endeavor in either a conventional or guerrilla sense. 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 the Palestinians considered positive:

See also

Further reading

External links

Notes and References

  1. Zachary Lockman, Joel Beinin (1989) Intifada: The Palestinian Uprising Against Israeli Occupation South End Press, ISBN 0896083632 and 9780896083639 p 327
  2. http://www.btselem.org/english/statistics/first_Intifada_Tables.asp B'Tselem
  3. "uprising by Palestinians against Israeli rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip territories." Intifada, Microsoft Encarta.
  4. http://www.jmcc.org/research/reports/intifada.htm The Intifada - An Overview: The First Two Years
  5. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/middle_east/03/v3_ip_timeline/html/1987.stm BBC: A History of Conflict
  6. Zachary Lockman, Joel Beinin (1989) Intifada: The Palestinian Uprising Against Israeli Occupation South End Press, ISBN 0896083632 and 9780896083639 p 38
  7. Zachary Lockman, Joel Beinin (1989) Intifada: The Palestinian Uprising Against Israeli Occupation South End Press, ISBN 0896083632 and 9780896083639 p 32
  8. http://www.washington-report.org/backissues/1297/9712081.html WRMEA
  9. http://www.palestinehistory.com/issues/intifada/intifada1.htm Al-Aqsa Intifada
  10. Book: Aryeh Shalev. The Intifada: Causes and Effects. Jerusalem Post & Westview Press. Jerusalem. 1991. 33. 0-8133-8303.
  11. Jamal Raji Nassar, Roger Heacock (1990) Intifada: Palestine at the Crossroads Greenwood Publishing Group, ISBN 027593411X and ISBN 9780275934118 p 31
  12. Ackerman, P and Duvall, A: "A Force More Powerful: A Century of Nonviolent Conflict", page 403. St. Martin's Press,2000
  13. Book: Aryeh Shalev. The Intifada: Causes and Effects. Jerusalem Post & Westview Press. Jerusalem. 1991. 111–114. 0-8133-8303X.
  14. Ackerman, P and Duvall, A: "A Force More Powerful: A Century of Nonviolent Conflict", page 401. St. Martin's Pres, 2000 ISBN 0312228643
  15. http://www.merip.org/palestine-israel_primer/intifada-87-pal-isr-primer.html MERIP
  16. Zachary Lockman, Joel Beinin (1989) Intifada: The Palestinian Uprising Against Israeli Occupation South End Press, ISBN 0896083632 and 9780896083639 p 39
  17. Web site: The First Intifada,1987. 2008-11-07.
  18. Web site: Security Council Resolutions 1987. 2008-02-04.
  19. Book: The Domestic Sources of American Foreign Policy: Insights and Evidence. Eugene R. Wittkopf and James M. McCormick. 86. 2007. Rowan & Littlefield. 074254740X.
  20. [Said K. Aburish|Aburish, Said K.]
  21. Jamal Raji Nassar, Roger Heacock (1990) Intifada: Palestine at the Crossroads Greenwood Publishing Group, ISBN 027593411X and ISBN 9780275934118 p 115
  22. Gradstein, Linda "Palestinians Claim Tax is Unjust, Many Don't Pay" [Ft. Lauderdale] Sun-Sentinel 8 October 1989, p. 12A
  23. Web site: Welcome To Beit Sahour Official Website. 2008-06-07.
  24. 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
  25. Book: Tangled Roots: Social and Psychological Factors in the Genesis of Terrorism. Jeffrey Ivan Victoroff. 2006. 204. IOS Press. 158603670X.
  26. http://observer.guardian.co.uk/world/story/0,,2195924,00.html Israel shaken by troops' tales of brutality against Palestinians | World news | The Observer
  27. [Benny Morris]
  28. http://www.phrmg.org/monitor2001/oct2001-collaborators.htm Collaborators, One Year Al-Aqsa Intifada
  29. Jamal Raji Nassar, Roger Heacock (1990) Intifada: Palestine at the Crossroads Greenwood Publishing Group, ISBN 027593411X and ISBN 9780275934118 p 1
  30. Shlaim Avi (2000) "The Iron Wall; Israel and the Arab World" Penguin Books ISBN 0-14-028870-8 pp 455-457
  31. http://www.fpri.org/peacefacts/023.199511.sicherman.rabinappreciation.html Foreign Policy Research Institute
  32. Shlaim Avi (2000) "The Iron Wall; Israel and the Arab World" Penguin Books ISBN 0-14-028870-8 p 455
  33. Noga Collins-kreiner, Nurit Kliot, Yoel Mansfeld, Keren Sagi (2006) Christian Tourism to the Holy Land: Pilgrimage During Security Crisis Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., ISBN 075464703X and ISBN 9780754647034
  34. http://www.washington-report.org/backissues/1297/9712081.html WRMEA