THE ISRAELI-PALESTINE CONFLICT: “The Intifada”

by tybmmjourno

22

The Israeli–Palestinian conflict, which began in the early 20th century, is the ongoing struggle between Israelis and Palestinians, which was in the earlier years, referred to the conflict between the Zionists and the Arab population living in Palestine under Ottoman and then British rule. The key issues of the conflict include mutual recognition, borders, security, water rights and control of Jerusalem, Israeli settlements,  and the Palestinian freedom movement. The violence resulting from the conflict has raised security and human rights concerns between both sides as well as internationally.

The form of the Israeli-Arab/Palestinian conflict has seen many mutations and changes over the years- from its early stages since the Zionists first settled in Palestine in 1882, to the creation of the State of Israel in 1948; Arab Jewish tensions could be broadly defined as a dispute between two ethno-religious nationalisms competing for the same small stretch of land. This was, however, only until the first Intifada of 1987 and the Oslo peace agreement of 1993, which started a process that would lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state, thus promising to turn the conflict from an existential struggle to a border conflict[1].

The “Intifada”

After living under much hardship and humiliation, the Palestinian population in the year 2000, began an uprising against Israeli rule called the “Intifada.” This term – rarely translated in the American media – is simply the Arabic word for ‘uprising or rebellion’.
This is the second such uprising. The first one began in 1986 and ended in 1993 when the peace negotiations offered hopes of justice but sadly, in the following years, these hopes were crushed after Israel, rather than withdrawing from the West Bank and Gaza, as promised, actually doubled its expansion in these areas.
It is said that during this uprising, which consisted largely of Palestinians throwing stones at Israeli troops (as very few Palestinians had weapons), the people of Palestine were killed at a rate approximately 7-10 times that of Israelis.

Partial casualty figures for the Israeli–Palestinian conflict from the OCHAoPt
(numbers in parentheses represent casualties under age 18)

Year

Deaths

Injuries

Palestinians

Israelis

Palestinians

Israelis

2008–26.12.08

464 (87)

31 (4)

                 –

2007

396 (43)

13 (0)

1843 (265)

322 (3)

2006

678 (127)

25 (2)

3194 (470)

377 (7)

2005

216 (52)

48 (6)

1260 (129)

484 (4)

Total

1754 (309)

117 (12)

6297 (864)

1183 (14)

 

One of the many brutal ways Israeli forces attempted to put down this rebellion was through the “break the bones” policy, implemented by Yitzhak Rabin, where Palestinian people who had been throwing stones (majority of whom were youths), were held down and their arms broken. On the first day of this policy alone, on an average, one hospital in Gaza treated 200 People for fractures.[2]

Recent uprising which has been termed as the “Second Intifada” – was sparked when an Israeli general, Ariel Sharon, known for his infamous slaughter of Palestinian civilians throughout his career, visited a Jerusalem holy site, accompanied by over a thousand armed Israeli soldiers. When some Palestinian youths threw stones, Israeli soldiers responded with live gunfire, killing 5 the first day, and 10 the second.
This uprising has been going on ever since then, as Israel periodically mounts massive invasions into Palestinian communities, using tanks, helicopter gunships, and F-16 fighter jets; killing thousands. Palestinian fighters resisting these forces possess rifles and homemade mortars and rockets; had no choice but to strap explosives onto their own bodies and attempt to deliver their bombs in person; often killing only themselves. While the large majority of Palestinians oppose suicide bombings, many feel that armed resistance has become necessary. Nevertheless, only a small portion takes an active part in the resistance, despite the fact that virtually everyone supports its aim, which is to create a nation that is free from foreign oppression.

It has started becoming difficult for them to even live an approximation of a normal life, with Israel attempting to prevent them from doing so at every step of their lives; for instance, preventing them at checkpoints from traveling from town to town, preventing their children from travelling to schools, to work, to celebrate festivals, destroying their crops, and even not letting the sick and injured from getting to the hospitals!

Most Palestinians feel that the Israeli government’s intention is to drive them off the land, and there is a great deal of evidence that this is the goal of many Israeli leaders. However, at the same time, there is a small but determined and supportive minority of Israelis, joined by citizens from throughout the world, who are increasingly coming to the Palestinian Territories in order to show their support against Israeli occupation. These “internationals,” as they are often called, take part in peaceful marches, attempt to help Palestinian farmers harvest their crops despite Israeli military closures, live in refugee camps in the hope that their presence will prevent Israeli invasions and shelling, and walk children to school. The result? They are sometimes beaten, shot, and even killed.

Meanwhile, the semblance of Palestinian autonomy continues. There have been attempts to improve the situation such as the Elections that were held in January 2005, resulting in new Palestinian leadership that was hoped to be governed under occupation and that will eventually attempt to negotiate Palestinian liberation. Yet even this election demonstrated Israel’s power, as various Palestinian candidates were arrested, detained, and sometimes beaten by Israeli forces. This aspect, however, like so much else, was rarely reported by the American media.

Regardless of whether one considers the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a border dispute, an ethnic conflict, a religious war, an anti-colonial struggle, or a combination of the above, what emerges from various studies is that without a fair and satisfactory- a mutually agreed upon settlement to the dispute, there can be no end to the conflict. And maybe the United Nations needs to step in and take control of the situation. A negotiated two-state solution with an administrative arrangement for a common capital of both states seems to be a reasonable possibility. It’s time that the Policy makers take responsibility and control of the situation and put this conflict to a rest.
–SAKSHI RAINA
TYBMM


WEBLIOGRAPHY:

Menachem Klein. The Shift: Israel-Palestine from Border Struggle to Ethnic Conflict. New York: Columbia University Press. 2010.

“Under orders from Defence Minister Yitzhak Rabin, ‘Soldiers armed with cudgels beat up those they could lay their hands on regardless of whether they were demonstrators, or not, breaking into homes by day and night, dragging men and women, young and old, from their beds to beat them. At Gaza’s Shifa Hospital 200 people were treated during the first five days of the new policy, most of them suffering from broken elbows and knees. Three had fractured skulls.’” (PALESTINE AND ISRAEL: THE UPRISING AND BEYOND, David McDowall, University of California Press, 1989, p. 7.)

 

 


[1] … argues senior lecturer in political science at Ben Gurion University, Menachem Klein, in his fittingly entitled The Shift: Israel-Palestine From Border Struggle to Ethnic Conflict (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010)

[2] “Under orders from Defence Minister Yitzhak Rabin, ‘Soldiers armed with cudgels beat up those they could lay their hands on regardless of whether they were demonstrators, or not, breaking into homes by day and night, dragging men and women, young and old, from their beds to beat them. At Gaza’s Shifa Hospital 200 people were treated during the first five days of the new policy, most of them suffering from broken elbows and knees. Three had fractured skulls.’” (PALESTINE AND ISRAEL: THE UPRISING AND BEYOND, David McDowall, University of California Press, 1989, p. 7.)

 

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