Intifada

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There have been two Palestinian uprisings against the Israelis; these are known as the intifadas. (The term literally means "shaking off".)

The first intifada was from 1987 to 1991. The general cause of the intifada was the many years of military occupation that the Palestinians suffered under the Israelis. They felt abandoned by their Arab allies, the PLO had failed to destroy the State of Israel as promised, and it seemed that they would spend the rest of their lives as second class citizens, without full political rights.

The intifada was a partially spontaneous phenomenon; after it began, the PLO attempted to claim that it had organized it, but historians views this as an after-the-fact attempt to assert more control than it really had. Unfortunately, the proximal causes of the first intifada were rampant false rumors of Jewish attempts to exterminate Palestinians. In the Gaza strip, stories were told that said Israeli hospitals were murdering Palestinians; other stories stated that "the Jews" had poisoned the water so as to kill all the Palestinians in the Gaza strip. A UN investigation found that none of these charges had any basis in fact, but the mere presence of these stories caused wild panic and street fights against Israeli policemen and soldiers.

Much of the intifada was low-tech; dozens of Palestinian teenagers would ambush small patrols of Israeli soliders, showering them with large rocks, attempting to kill with brute force and vastly superior numbers. However, this tactic soon gave way to using thousands of Molotov cocktail attacks, over 100 hand grenade attacks and more than 500 attacks with guns or explosives.

The focus of the intifada changed as it went on, and it turned into internecine warfare. Palestinians attacked each other almost as often as they attacked Israelis; by the end of the infifada over 1/3 of all Palestinian casualties were caused by fellow Palestinians. Almost 200 Palestinians were murdered by other Palestinians in 1992, double the number killed in clashes with the Israeli army.

The second intifada started in mid 2000 after Israeli opposition leader, Ariel Sharon, visited the Temple Mount in 2000, spraking Palestinian riots. This marked the beginning of the second (or al-Aqsa) intifada. Israel claims that the Palestinians had been planning violence far in advance of Sharon's visit, and that his visit was used as an excuse for the planned violence to be launched. In October, 2000 Palestinians destroyed a Jewish shrine in Nablus, Joseph's Tomb. They also stoned worshipers at the Western Wall and attacked another Jewish shrine, Rachel’s Tomb. Further information from pro-Israel source: [1]

A pro-Israeli perspective on the first intifada can be found here: [2]