Conflicts & War

20 years after the Second Intifada

By Laura Fernández Palomo

Jerusalem, Sep 28 (efe-epa).- Twenty years have passed since the Second Intifada, one of the most violent chapters between Israel and Palestine.

This period of intense conflict changed the mental and emotional possibilities of peace in the region.

Violence erupted on 28 September 2000 when Israeli leader Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount, which was seen as highly provocative by Palestinians.

The anniversary this year coincides with the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, the most sacred in the religion, with images in the local press from the five-year period of unrest.

More than 4,200 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis died in the conflict, most of them civilians, and in the aftermath which lasted until 2007, according to the United Nations.

Images included one of the youngest victims Muhammad al-Durrah lying in his father’s lap after being killed by crossfire in Gaza.

The lynching of two Israeli soldiers who mistakenly entered Ramallah, fierce fighting in Jenin and an attack on a nightclub in Tel Aviv have stayed in the memories of both sides from this traumatic period.

Debates continue over whether it was a popular uprising or a plan devised by then-Palestinian nationalist leader Yasser Arafat.

Unlike in the First Intifada in 1987, Palestinians carried out numerous suicide bombings which led some to believe it was not a popular uprising.

Many Palestinians viewed it as an irremediable explosion against Israeli occupation and a loss of confidence in the peace process set out by the Oslo Accords, which should have concluded with the creation of a Palestinian state in five years.

Simcha Landau, a professor at the Hebrew University’s Institute of Criminology, told Efe that when Palestinians saw the deal gave them no benefits but only losses, they changed their policy after the end of the Second Intifada.

In the previous months, then-Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak and Arafat were negotiating the final details of lasting peace at Camp David.

But no agreement was reached and mutual accusations of failure highlighted the lack of common ground between Israelis and Palestinians.

Jerusalem was a particularly difficult issue, as shown by Sharon’s visit which was designed to send a message that Israel would not cede sovereignty over the Old City.

It is where Temple Mount is located, the holiest Jewish site and the third holiest for Islam.

The eastern occupied area of the holy city was annexed by Israel in 1980, which the international community considers as occupied Palestinian territory.

Palestinians consider the Second Intifada as an uprising against Israel’s presence in occupied territory.

Israelis view it as a terror campaign carried out by Palestinian militant groups.

Hopes for peace under the Oslo Accords soon faded with both sides opposing concessions included in the final agreement.

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