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The popular uprising in the Occupied Territories began in December 1987 after years of Israeli occupation in which the Palestinians experienced every conceivable violation of human rights. The Palestinians, frustrated and humiliated, took matters into their own hands and rebelled. On Sunday, December 6, 1987, an Israeli plastics salesman, Shlomo Sakal, was stabbed to death in Gaza. On December 8, 1987, four Arabs were killed and others wounded when an Israeli vehicle ran into two vans that were taking Arab workers home to Gaza. Residents of the Jabalya Refugee Camp, where the workers resided, suspected that the killings were intentional. They demonstrated and burned tires. On December 9, 1987, there were more demonstrations, and three youths were killed by Israeli soldiers. The uprising soon spread to all the Occupied Territories. Demonstrations, strikes, a boycott of Israeli goods, and general unrest lasted from 1987 to 1993. The Israelis responded with harsher measures: travel restrictions were imposed, limitations were placed on the money that could be brought into the Occupied Territories, schools and universities were closed, there were mass arrests, and the shooting on sight of anyone who was suspect.
The intifada was
directed by an underground leadership, the Unified National Leadership of the
Uprising, which issued leaflets that provided information and direction to the
people. Contact was also maintained with the PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization]
in Tunis. The objectives of the intifada were to end the Israeli occupation
and establish Palestinian independence. However, the toll was heavy; 40,000
Palestinians arrested; more than a thousand dead; the economy in shambles, as
workers observed strike days and were confined to their homes during curfews;
and unemployment which reached between 30 percent to 50 percent in the Occupied
Territories. There was a decline in gross national product and in per capita
income. Remittances no longer flowed in. Kuwait and the other Gulf countries
no longer funnelled assistance to the PLO or to the Occupied Territories, particularly
after the Gulf War. Moreover, exports and subcontracting stopped. The local
Palestinian leadership began to exert pressure on the PLO to engage in peace
talks with Israel, to advocate a two-state solution, and to renounce terrorism.
In 1988, at the height of the intifada, the PLO declared the establishment of
an independent Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza and accepted a two-state
solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The PLO accepted UN General Assembly
Resolution 181 (the 1947 UN partition plan), and eventually Palestine was recognized
by 104 countries in UN General Assembly Resolution 43/177. Shortly afterward,
the United States began a discreet dialogue with the PLO, which ushered in a
hopeful peace process.
During the first Intifada, a total of 1,392 Palestinians were killed, 130,787
suffered injuries, 18,211 were detained and 185,000 trees were destroyed (Source:
Palestine Human Rights Information Centre, June 1994).
The al-Aqsa intifada began shortly after the Barak government authorized a visit by Ariel Sharon with 1000 police to the Muslim religious site of Al-Aqsa on Thursday September 28, 2000. Sharon is the very symbol of Israeli state terror and aggression, with a rich record of atrocities going back to 1953. Sharon's announced purpose was to demonstrate "Jewish sovereignty" over the al-Aqsa compound, but the "al-Aqsa intifada," as Palestinians call it, was not initiated by Sharon's visit per se; rather, by the massive and intimidating police and military presence that Barak introduced the following day, the day of prayers. Predictably, that led to clashes as thousands of people streamed out of the mosque, leaving 7 Palestinians dead and 200 wounded. Whatever Barak's purpose, there could hardly have been a more efficient way to set the stage for the shocking atrocities of the following weeks.
The figures so far (time of writing April 29, 2002):
Total number of Palestinian deaths in West Bank & Gaza since September 29th,
2000 is 19,139* injuries, 1,519 deaths (Figures inclusive to April 29, 2002)
Sub Total since March 29, 2002 invasion is 586 injuries, 262 deaths. (*figures
are likely underestimates due to PRCS inability to access many areas)
To see the latest figures click here.
(Sources:Chomsky N, al-Aqsa Intifada; PRCS-Palestinian Red Crescent Society)