Al-Qassam Website - The Al-Aqsa Intifada represented a milestone in the Palestinian struggle against the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the desecration of sanctities. It also emphasized that the Israeli occupation's ongoing crimes and continued terrorism against Palestinians will fail to quell the resistance of the Palestinian people to the Israeli occupation until liberation and return.
Start of the Intifada
The Al-Aqsa Intifada, also known as the second Intifada, began on September 29 2000, immediately after the Israeli occupation’s then prime minister Ariel Sharon flanked by 1,000 Israeli occupying soldiers, provocatively broke into the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
In its first days, the Intifada was characterised by large demonstrations, stone-throwing, and civil disobedience. It started in occupied Jerusalem and quickly spread to the occupied West Bank and the blockaded Gaza Strip. The protests were met with large-scale repression by Israeli occupation forces, including the use of live ammunition and rubber-coated steel bullets. Soon after, the Israeli occupation forces used helicopter gunships and tanks, followed by targeted assassinations and military incursions into Area A of the occupied West Bank.
In the first five days of the Intifada, Israeli occupation soldiers killed 47 Palestinians and injured 1,885 others, 80% of whom were (according to Amnesty International) posing no life-threatening danger to Israeli occupation forces. On the other hand, five Israelis were killed in the same period. The Israeli occupation’s excessive use of force against peaceful demonstrators was the reason why the phase of popular protest in the Intifada ended quickly, and armed resistance took its place.
The Spark of Al-Aqsa Intifada
The Israeli occupation soldiers’ extra-judicial killing of 12-year-old Palestinian boy Mohammed al-Durrah in Gaza while his father was trying to shield him as bullets rained down on them has ignited the flame of resistance.
During the Intifada that lasted from 2000 to 2005, the Israeli occupation forces killed 3,135 in the occupied West Bank and Gaza including 627 aged under 18, 181 killed in extrajudicial executions and 288 (including at least 29 aged under 18) killed in the course of these assassinations.
One of the most Israeli occupation heinous crimes against the occupied West Bank was in the city of Jenin and its refugee camp. During the attack, Israeli occupation forces have completely destroyed 455 Palestinian homes and partially destroyed 800 others. Palestinians, in response, took to the streets and confronted the occupying soldiers with stones and Molotov cocktails. As a result of this attack, at least 52 Palestinians, half of whom were civilians, were killed.
In 2002, to divide Palestinian lands and communities, the Israeli occupation authorities began constructing a wall that stretches for more than 700 kilometres, annexing Palestinian land inside the occupied West Bank. The wall, which has drawn international condemnation, cuts deep into Palestinian territory and has resulted in the confiscation of large swathes of fertile Palestinian land, the ghettoisation of Palestinian towns and villages, and has cut off thousands of Palestinians from social services, schools, and farmland.
On July 9, 2004, the International Court of Justice ruled that construction of the wall was “contrary to international law” because it involves the destruction and confiscation of Palestinian property and imposes severe restrictions on Palestinian movement. Further, the Court stated that Israel must “cease forthwith the works of construction of the wall being built in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including in, and around East Jerusalem,” return seized property and compensate Palestinian landowners whose interests have been damaged by its construction, the AL Jazeera Media Network reported.
The Intifada and Armed Resistance:
During Al-Aqsa Intifada, the Palestinian resistance factions, particularly the Al-Qassam Brigades, focused on developing their means of resistance, and organized work against the challenges imposed by the Israeli occupation. The Palestinian resistance managed to execute organized operations, develop their military industries, and manufacture local rockets and shells that could target the Israeli occupation’s settlements and gatherings.
The Palestinian resistance followed unique tactics in the battle against the occupation’s army in the settlements and military posts. The fighters had dug tunnels under these locations and wired them with explosives which caused the occupation great losses. As a result, the occupation withdrew from the Gaza Strip because it could not handle the costs of protecting its soldiers and settlers from the shelling, explosions and break-ins. The withdrawal from the Strip is considered the most important achievement in the Intifada.
22 years after the Intifada, Palestinians and the resistance factions are still resisting the Israeli occupation’s schemes to Judaize Jerusalem and divide the Al-Aqsa Mosque spatially and temporally.