First Intifada

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First Intifada
Part of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict

Top, bottom:
Date9 December 1987 – 13 September 1993
(5 years, 9 months and 5 days)
Result Uprising suppressed[1]
Creation of the West Bank "Areas" by the Oslo II Accord in 1995
 Israel Al-Qiyada al-Muwhhada Hamas
File:Flag of the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine.svg Islamic Jihad
Commanders and leaders
Casualties and losses
179–200 killed by Palestinians[4] 1,962 killed[5]
  • 1,603 killed by Israelis[5]
  • 359 killed by Palestinians[5]

The First Intifada was a large-scale rebellion by Palestinians against the military occupation of the Palestinian territories by Israel. It started in 1987 and ended in 1993. While the rebellion was put down by the Israel Defense Forces, it led to a diplomatic victory for the Palestinians by giving recognition to the State of Palestine and the Palestinian National Authority in the Oslo Accords. The First Intifada inspired the Second Intifada in 2000 and the Third Intifada in 2023.

Causes[change | change source]

The Palestinian unrest that led to the outbreak of the first intifada started with the Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory, forcing Palestinians to leave their land.[6] Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory were already happening since Israel won the Six-Day War in 1967. Still, the Israeli government intensified these Jewish settlements and land expropriation in the 1980's.[7][8] The United Nations considers Israel's settlements in Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem illegal.[9] Other reasons for the Palestinian rebellion were the worsening Palestinian economy and the limited access to jobs.[7] The widespread dissatisfaction among Palestinians living under more than twenty years of occupation and oppression by Israel and the lack of prospects for the future were also big factors that led to the first Intifada.

Start[change | change source]

The first protests against Israel's occupation started in Gaza. An Israeli army car drove into a Palestinian car, killing all four occupants on 8 December 1987. That night, protests broke out in a Palestinian refugee camp during the funeral of the victims.[7] People in the refugee camp believed Israel set up the accident as a payback for the death of an Israeli man who was killed in Gaza a few days earlier.[8] When the Israeli army killed a Palestinian man during the protests, the Palestinians became rebellious out of anger.

Spread[change | change source]

The protests spread to other places in the Gaza Strip and eventually reached the West Bank. It became a Palestinian mass uprising against the occupation. Palestinians came into active resistance.[7][8] This uprising was different from all Palestinian resistance before this was a mass rebellion in which almost all domains of Palestinian society became involved.[10]

UNLU[change | change source]

Quickly, the resistance became efficiently organized. A party (Unified National Leadership of the Uprising: UNLU) was established, which brought together all important Palestinian organizations and parties that already opposed Israel before the Intifada.[8] Other Palestinians set up multiple sorts of "popular committees" who dealt with different parts of the organization such as food supply, medical care and social reform.[11]

Course[change | change source]

The first Intifada is often known for its nonviolent nature. The nonviolent resistance from Palestinians existed to the boycott of Israeli products, strikes and the refusal to pay taxes or other obligated payments to Israel.[12] However, the idea that this intifada was nonviolent is not correct. The first year of the Intifada was the most violent. The Palestinian youth started throwing rocks at the Israeli security forces at the beginning of the uprising. Later, they exchanged rocks for guns, grenades, and other weapons against Israeli forces. The more violence Palestinians used, the more violent the Israeli responses became.[6]

1988[change | change source]

The first period of the Intifada is often divided into four phases.[13] The first phase started immediately after the mass demonstrations on 8 December in Gaza and ended, more or less, three weeks later. This phase consisted of the sudden Palestinian demonstrations and uprisings from Gaza to the Palestinian territories. The second phase lasted until March 1988. The Intifada became more organized in this phase: the UNLU was established, even as several of the civil committees discussed above. In the third phase, which ran from March to June 1988, the Palestinians effectively started to boycott Israeli products and taxes. During the fourth phase, the resistance became even more structured and organized. This phase climaxed with the Declaration of Palestinian statehood (written by the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish and proclaimed by Yasser Arafat) in November 1988.[13]

The amount of shootings as a percent of all incidents during the first Intifada increased from 1990.
Palestinian demonstration during the first Intifada

1989[change | change source]

In 1989 the Israeli authorities began to banish the committees more actively and tried to crush the resurrection by deploying "collaborators." [13] The Israeli security forces switched to extremely violent tactics in this period. The Israeli authorities called for a policy to crush the uprising by 'force, might, beating'[12] in 1988. Israeli soldiers beat up and tortured Palestinian demonstrators, especially young people, on an immense scale. An estimated amount of 57.000 were arrested by Israel authorities during the Intifada, a huge part of them became victim of torture and violence.[14] Israeli forces used teargas, weapons, stones, sticks and bomb explosions against Palestinians.[12] The Israeli tactics from this period led to a peak in Palestinian violence as well.

Casualties[change | change source]

Between 9 December 1987 and 31 December 1993, an estimated number of 1282 Palestinians died, and more than 130.472 became injured during the six years of the Intifada.[14] The houses of 2534 Palestinians got demolished by Israeli security forces. For every three Palestinians that died, less than one Israeli was killed.[6] Most of the Palestinians who died were killed by Israeli security forces. Palestinian civilians killed the Israelis who died.[15] Most Palestinians and Israelis died within the Palestinian occupied territories including the Gaza strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. However, some of the victims who fell during this period of violence died within the Green Line.

End[change | change source]

The Intifada officially ended on the 13th of September 1993, when the Declaration of Principles was signed by the PLO and Israeli government at the White House in the USA.[16] Israel recognized the PLO as Palestinian representative for the first time. The PLO agreed to renounce terrorism as a tactic to reach their goals, and both parties decided to establish a Palestinian Authority that would get more responsibility and autonomy in the occupied territories. This declaration was also the start of the Oslo accords, in which Palestine and Israel would start to discuss the many issues on autonomy, borders, refugees, and Jerusalem.[16] The Oslo accords would last until 1995.

Oslo Accords[change | change source]

On 13 September 1993, the PLO and the Israeli government signed the Declaration of Principles, marking the start of the Oslo Accords, which were held between 1993 and 1995. More generally, the Oslo Accords comprised several agreements between the PLO and the Israeli government. The Oslo Accords were considered a huge breakthrough in the peace process between Palestine and Israel. However, many criticized or fully renounced the accords from the start. The signing of the Declaration marks the official end of the First Intifada.

References[change | change source]

  1. Kober, Avi, Israel's Wars of Attrition: Attrition Challenges to Democratic States, p. 165
  2. Murphy, Kim (10 September 1993). "Israel and PLO, in Historic Bid for Peace, Agree to Mutual Recognition". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 6 April 2019. Retrieved 19 March 2014.
  3. "Profile: Marwan Barghouti" BBC News. 26 November 2009. Accessed 9 August 2011.
  4. Nami Nasrallah, 'The First and Second Palestinian intifadas,' in David Newman, Joel Peters (eds.) Routledge Handbook on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Routledge, 2013, pp. 56–68, p. 56.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Kober, Avi. "From Blitzkrieg To Attrition: Israel's Attrition Strategy and Staying Power." Small Wars & Insurgencies 16, no. 2 (2005): 216–240.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "intifada | History, Meaning, Cause, & Significance | Britannica". Retrieved 9 May 2022.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Lesch, Ann M. (Autumn 1990). "Prelude to the Uprising in the Gaza Strip". Journal of Palestine Studies. 20, nr. 1 (1): 12. doi:10.2307/2537319. JSTOR 2537319.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Naser-Najjab, Nadia; Khatib, Ghassan (2019). "The First Intifada, Settler Colonialism, and 21st Century Prospects for Collective Resistance". The Middle East Journal. 73 (2): 187–206. doi:10.3751/73.2.11. ISSN 1940-3461. S2CID 200032600.
  9. "Israel's Settlements Have No Legal Validity, Constitute Flagrant Violation of International Law, Security Council Reaffirms | Meetings Coverage and Press Releases". Retrieved 5 May 2022.
  10. Andrew., Rigby (1991). Living the Intifada. Zed Books. OCLC 246903834.
  11. Rigby, Andrew (1991). Living the Intifada. London: Zed Books. pp. 64. ISBN 1-85649-039-4.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Nasrallah, Rami (2012), "The First and Second Palestinian Intifadas", Routledge Handbook on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Routledge, doi:10.4324/9780203079553.ch5, ISBN 978-0-203-07955-3, retrieved 9 May 2022
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 McGinn, Jack. "A study of grassroots political organising during, and in the years immediately preceding, the first Intifada as an example of anarchist praxis".
  14. 14.0 14.1 Lopez-Ibor, Juan José; Christodoulou, George; Maj, Mario; Sartorius, Norman; Okasha, Ahmed (28 January 2005). Disasters and Mental Health. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-02124-8.
  15. "Fatalities in the first Intifada". B' Retrieved 11 May 2022.
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Milestones: 1993–2000 - Office of the Historian". Retrieved 9 May 2022.