Status of Palestinian Territories and Palestinian Society under Israeli Occupation

VI. Second Palestinian Intifada, September 2000

Events Prior to the Outbreak of the Second Intifada
After the signing of Oslo Agreement on September 13, 1993, there was hope in the air, as different channels of peace talks were opened, and on September 28, 1995, Oslo II was signed. Despite this, life for the average Palestinian did not change as was hoped. The Israeli partner in the Peace Process did nothing to implement the terms of the agreement, especially those issues related to the release of prisoners, the safe passage between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, the construction of Gaza harbor and the freezing of building new Jewish settlements in the OPT.

As a direct result of a failure on Israel's part to change their policies in the OPT and similarly, because of the new Palestinian Authority's behavioral corruption that placed the nation's interest out of the agenda, and failure to abide by the agreements they signed, it seemed that the prospect of peace was fading rapidly. The US President Bill Clinton called for reopening the peace talks and the Wye River Memorandum was signed on October 23, 1998, despite this, Israel refused to commit to the implementation of this memorandum. On September 4, 1999, the Israelis and the Palestinians signed the Sharm Al Sheikh Memorandum, but with minimum and limited progress. This trend continued and on July 11, 2000, the Camp David negotiations ended without agreement being reached.

After the failure of the Camp David's round of negotiations, the Palestinians in the OPT were disappointed. They were hopeful that peace would finally prevail and were excited about the prospect of an improvement in their conditions of existence that such a peace plan might bring.

Spark of the Second Intifada
The spark that ignited the Second Intifada took place on September 28, 2000, three months and three days after the end of the Camp David negotiations, when Arial Sharon, the leader of the opposition Likud Party in Israel at the time, visited the Al Aqsa Mosque-Temple Mount vicinity with 1,000 soldiers acting as bodyguards. The visit was officially announced and approved in advance by the then Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, but was criticized by many moderates for the potential consequences that such a controversial act might provoke.181

True to these warnings, on the next day demonstrations broke out in the Old City of Jerusalem after the Friday Prayers at Al Aqsa Mosque, during which a number of Palestinians were shot dead by the Israeli soldiers. In addition to this, Israel launched several strikes on riots and demonstrations that broke out in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Two days later, on September 30, 2000, the scene of the 12-year old Muhammad Durrah caught in a gun battle between Israeli troops and Palestinians in the Gaza strip; a gun battle that was to eventually cost the innocent boy his life, shook the world. This, understandably, fuelled Palestinian anger towards the forces of occupation, who continuously shoot innocent children. The act fuelled anger and the violence quickly escalated; for in the first six days of the Intifada, 61 Palestinians were killed and 2,657 were injured by the Israeli Military and Police. 182
In the beginning, the purpose of the Al Aqsa Intifada was to demonstrate against Sharon's visit to the Aqsa. The reaction of the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) to these protests, which claimed the lives of more than 200 Palestinians (a third of whom were under 17 years old) in one month only, had the effect of militarizing the Intifada as of the beginning of November 2000.183

Major Events of Al Aqsa Intifada
Assassination of Abu Ali Mustafa
On Tuesday, August 27, 2001, Abu Ali Mustafa, (Mustafa Zabri) the Secretary General of the Population Front of the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), was assassinated when an Israeli helicopter fired two rockets as he sat at his desk in Ramallah, just feet away from Yasser Arafat's offices in Al Mukata'a (the Presidential Headquarters in Ramallah). This action took the conflict to new heights.

Assassination of Rahavam Ze'evi
In response to the assassination of Abu Ali Mustafa, members of the PFLP assassinated the Israeli Minister of Tourism, Rahavam Ze'evi, on October 17, 2001. The Minister was shot dead whilst at the Jerusalem Hyatt Hotel. The Israeli authorities allege that Ahmad Sa'adat, the Secretary General of the PFLP who succeeded Abu Ali Mustafa, had ordered Ze'evi's assassination.

Karine-A Incident
On January 3, 2002, Israeli commandos seized a ship called the Karine A, which was carrying 50 tones of weapons. Israel claimed that the shipment came from Iran and was heading to the Palestinian shores of the Gaza Strip in the Mediterranean Sea. Sharon accused Arafat of having ordered the latest ceasefire to buy time to import arms. Whilst the Israelis used this incident as a part of its propaganda machine, experts have pointed to many inconsistencies in the story. "One obvious problem is to explain why the Iranian government should send such a ship through waters continually searched by dozens of US naval vessels searching for terrorists fleeing Afghanistan." 184

'Israeli Defensive Shield Operation': Reoccupation of the Palestinian Territories
On March 28, 2002, the IOF carried out an aggressive military operation in the Palestinian Territories that they claimed was designed to root out Palestinian militants. In doing this, Israel contravened the very core of the Oslo Accords by completely disregarding Palestinian sovereignty and entering Area A. This operation developed into something more than the rooting out of militants, it became an attempt to damage and to destroy the Palestinian population. The fact remains that this so-called 'defensive operation' culminated with the re-occupation of the West Bank and the destruction of the infrastructure of Palestinian cities and villages.

On March 29, 2002, the day after the Israeli invasion of the Palestinian Territories, the United Nations' Security Council Resolution 1402 was adopted by vote of 14 in favor to none against. It called "… upon both parties to move immediately to a meaningful cease-fire; calls for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian cities, including Ramallah; and calls upon the parties to cooperate fully with Special Envoy Zinni, and others, to implement the Tenet security work plan as a first step towards implementation of the Mitchell Committee recommendations, with the aim of resuming negotiations on a political settlement…". 185

A further United Nations' Security Council Resolution, holding the number 1403, was adopted on April 4, 2002, demanding that Israel proceed with "the implementation of its resolution 1402, without delay." However, Israel disregarded both UN resolutions, and continued its armed operations within the Palestinian Territories. 186

Yet Security Council Resolution, number 1435, was adopted on September 24, 2002, calling on Israel to withdraw to positions of September 2000 and to end its military activities in and around Ramallah, including the destruction of security and civilian infrastructure. As with previous resolutions, Israel failed to abide by this.187

Nativity Church Siege in Bethlehem
As part of a series of raids on West Bank cities, on April 2, 2002, the IOF mobilized a large force and initiated a heavily-armed campaign in the city of Bethlehem and the surrounding camps and villages. Local civilians and some Palestinian militants sought refuge in the Church of the Nativity. "Father Sabbara estimated that there were 240 people in the church. Some were armed, he said, but they were 'not using their arms"188 Amongst them were about a dozen international peace activists who, on May 2, 2002, dashed into the church under the Israeli guns, carrying supplies with them.

On May 10, 2002, after 39 days the Siege came to an end and all Palestinians left the Church after a series of negotiations that took place in the Peace Center of Bethlehem (the building next to the Nativity Church in Manager Square). The negotiations ended with a plan that the civilians will be allowed to go free, while 26 Palestinian militants would be taken to Gaza under guard, and the other 13 Palestinian militants 'most wanted to Israel' would be temporarily deported under the presence of an European Union monitor to Cyprus, which was willing to give temporary sanctuary until final exile destination was settled.189

Jenin Massacre 190
On April 3, 2002, the IOF surrounded the City of Jenin and its Refugee Camp, the second largest refugee camp in the West Bank, comprising a population of about 14000 people, assumed control of all access roads into and out the city and imposed a curfew, declaring the area to be a 'closed military area'.
In an unequal confrontation, the Palestinian resistance confronted the Israeli attack with primitive and light weapons, whilst the IOF attacked the camp, using bulldozers, tanks, and apache helicopters. Serious damage was done to the water, sewage and electrical infrastructure of the camp, and the soldiers prevented ambulances and medical teams from entering.

On April 10, 2002, the Israeli army used loudspeakers to advise the civilians to evacuate the camp. Many Palestinians left the camp but about 4,000 civilians remained in their homes.  Following this, the IOF savagely attacked the camp [see photos], destroying buildings and killing many Palestinians. This operation continued for approximately 13 days. Many civilians were killed, and many buildings that housed families were destroyed, in some cases, with families still inside them. Many who remained were arrested by the IOF and many other were left homeless. Table (4.1) clarifies the amount of damage caused by the IOF in Jenin Camp.

Table (4.1): List of Loses in Jenin Camp, April 2002


 More than 52

Completely Damaged

74 Buildings

To be Knocked Down

61 Buildings

Re-habitatable Medium Damage             

100 Buildings

Slightly Damaged

197 Buildings

Public Building Medium Damage

5 Buildings 

Homeless Families  

    450 Families

Estimated Cost of Destruction

 $27 Million

In attempt to justify this deplorable behavior against a civilian population, Israel officials claimed there were about 200-armed militants from Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades hiding inside the camp. However, the Israeli army ignored the Principals of Proportionality and failed to take steps to avoid injury to civilians. Moreover, the IOF used some of the Palestinian civilians as human shields.

The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) called for an 'International Investigation Committee' into the Massacre. The United Nations accepted this call, but the Israeli government refused and declared that it would not cooperate with the committee. [For list of Israeli Massacres against the Palestinian people, see Annex 6]

A United Nations' Security Council Resolution, holding the number 1405, was adopted on April 19, 2002, "Calling for the lifting of restrictions imposed, in particular in Jenin, on the operations of humanitarian organizations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross and United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East…[and welcoming]  the initiative of the Secretary-General to develop accurate information regarding recent events in the Jenin refugee camp through a fact-finding team and requests him to keep the Security Council informed…"191 Israel refused to receive the fact finding commission and refused to cooperate with it.

Palestinian President's Siege in his Headquarters in Ramallah
On January 18, 2002, the Israeli occupation tanks moved into Ramallah City in the West Bank and demolished the building of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation, near the Palestinian President's Office.
In March 2002, when the IOF launched its 'Defensive Shield' military operation, Ramallah, as many other cities in the West Bank had been, was occupied. The IOF invaded the city and imposed a military siege on the Palestinian President's Compound, imprisoning him in his Office.
During this time, the Palestinian President, Yasser Arafat, was besieged in his Headquarters and his movement restricted. The situation continued until his final journey to receive medical treatment in France, a few days before his death in 'Persi Military Hospital' in Paris, France, on November 11, 2005.

Consequences of Al Aqsa Intifada
Table (4.2): Table of Israeli Violations against the Palestinians in the West Bank & Gaza Strip between 28/9/2000 - 31/1/2007 192


Number of Casualties


Total Killed


of them:


Children < 18




Medical and Civil Defense Personnel


Media Reporters


Politically Assassinated


Killed by Israeli Settlers


Sick delayed on Israeli Checkpoints


Total number of Injuries



Prisoners and detainees who are still in the Israeli prisons
[see map]


of them:

Detained before Al Aqsa Intifada


University and School Students (including 330 children)


Teachers and Educational Staff


Detainees battling with  chronic diseases


Female Detainees


Bombardment of Populated Neighborhoods

36 , 724 times

Since 1 October 2001

Property Damaged (Bombed)

72 , 437 houses

of them:

Palestinian Authority Posts


Totally Damaged (63% in Gaza Strip)

7 , 628

Partially Damaged
(40% in Gaza Strip)


Assault on Industries

432 Industrial Constructions


Assault on Educational Institutions


of them:

Closed by Military Order


Used as army posts




Palestinian-owned Land Confiscated for building the Wall

247 , 291 Dunums

Since 29 March 2003

Trees Uprooted


In West Bank & Gaza Strip until 31 December 2006

Land Bulldozed

80 , 712 Dunums

In West Bank & Gaza Strip until 31 July 2006

Israeli Checkpoints






Copyright ©, All Rights Reserved