This Article is From Oct 09, 2023

Explained: 'Intifada' And Its Significance Amid Israel-Gaza War

The war began with a land, sea and air offensive from Hamas, an approach Israel has never seen in its recent history from the terrorist group.

Explained: 'Intifada' And Its Significance Amid Israel-Gaza War

Over 1,100 have died on both sides since the attack was launched.

Israel is fighting an all-out war against Hamas in Gaza after one of the deadliest offensives was launched by the Palestinian group against Israel in recent years. The war began with a land, sea and air offensive from Hamas, an approach Israel has never seen in its recent history from the group.

Over 1,100 have died on both sides since the attack on Saturday and Israel is retaliating with full force. The Gaza Strip has suffered its deadliest day in 15 years after nearly 300 Palestinians died in Israeli air strikes in the last 24 hours.

The unprecedented scale of violence has brought the two Intifadas or Palestinian uprisings against Israel back into the spotlight and there is speculation about whether the all-out war is the beginning of the Third uprising.

First Intifada

Intifada, which translates to "shaking off" - Intifada is an Arabic word that means to "get rid of".

Israel witnessed a Palestinian uprising in 1987 against its 20-year occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, after Israel captured these areas during the six-day war in 1967. The build-up to the Palestinian uprising was years of dissatisfaction over Israeli occupation and tensions between the two sides, which grew after economic hardships and violence witnessed by Palestinians.

The First Intifada started on December 9, 1987, after four Palestinians were run down by an Israeli jeep, an event considered the trigger for the uprising. The killing of four Palestinians at the Jabalya refugee camp is also believed to be retaliation after a Jew was killed in Gaza a few days before.

The uprising saw nonviolent protests, and boycotts, while some protesters resorted to Molotov attacks on Israeli forces, stone pelting, riots and even suicide attacks. It also saw the formation of Hamas in 1987, which came into existence after splitting from the Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas projected itself as an alternative to the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO).

The First Intifada ended in 1993 with the Oslo Accords signed in the US by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat. Over 1,000 Palestinians were killed and over 150 Israelis died in the first uprising.

Second Intifada

The socio-economic difference between Israelis and Palestinians worsened over the years after the signing of the Oslo Accords. The reality on the ground did not match with the objective of the pact. 

From 1993-2000, many aspects of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip deepened rather than abated. Palestinians expected their lives to improve in terms of freedom of movement and socioeconomic standing; when both worsened, significant resentment built up in Palestinian society, writes Jeremy Pressman in the Journal of Conflict Studies.

The collapse of the Camp David summit in 2000 between the US, Israel and PLO escalated the tensions and Israeli opposition leader, Ariel Sharon's visit to the Al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site in Islam and the holiest in Judaism, is considered the last nail in the coffin. The visit saw massive resistance and sparked tensions leading to the second uprising or the Second Intifadah.

The Al-Aqsa mosque has been at the centre of the Israel-Palestine conflict. The Second Intifadah is also known as the Al-Aqsa Intifadah.

In 2002, Israel launched Operation Desert Shield to hit Palestinian infrastructure in the West Bank following an attack by Hamas on a hotel in which 30 Israelis were killed. Sniper attacks, suicide bombings, violent protests, and raids made the uprising more violent compared to the previous one.

Over 1,000 Israelis and over 2,000 Palestinians were killed in the turbulent period that ended in 2005 after the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit.

The Beginning of the Third Intifada?

The scale of the salvo rocket attacks by Hamas and the invasion from land, sea and air is unprecedented. Israel Defence Force has described the Hamas attack as their "9/11" or "Pearl Harbour" moment and the "worst massacre of innocent citizens in Israel's history".

The Al-Aqsa mosque is again at the centre of the conflict. In April, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said "Palestinians will not sit with their arms crossed" after Israeli "aggression" against the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

In April Last year, clashes took place between Palestinians and Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, and 42 people were injured.

Israel's police said forces entered the compound after "rioters" threw stones and fireworks, including down towards the Western Wall, the sacred Jewish site below Al-Aqsa.

Israel and Palestinian groups have fought several wars since Hamas took power in Gaza in 2007.