This isn’t a political analysis or a report about the twentieth anniversary of the Al-Aqsa Intifada. This is a recount from a witness who tries to recapture some of the most harrowing images which have left indelible memories that can never be erased.
Twenty years have flown by and today we commemorate the Second Intifada which broke out on September 28, 2000. It’s not a pleasant memory to recall, but it’s an integral part of our Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and self- determination.
I sifted through my memory for pictures and found that the colossal image that has stuck with me all those years is one of 12 year-old Mohammed Al-Durra cowering behind his father for protection. The deadly incident was filmed and this was my first encounter with a video of someone getting killed on camera. The short film shocked us to the core and somehow I believed the when the world saw this video– which was as bright as daylight, countries would be propelled to do something if anything. But the other shock which we had to absorb was the deafening silence of the world. There were demonstrations in many countries near and far, but nothing tangible happened to stop the carnage. Yes, this video continues to give me psychological tremors till this day, but what’s just as painful is that the perpetrators remain at large.
On that ominous day of September 28th 2000, the Israeli Occupation Prime Minister had plotted to instigate an uprising by storming into Al-Aqsa Mosque compound with more than 1,000 troops. Sharon knew that the Palestinians would retaliate. They wouldn’t just sit around watching this murderer desecrate their Mosque.
Another hideous crime that took place four months into the Intifada was the gruesome cold-blooded murder of 21 year-old Shaker Hassouna from Hebron. The young man was shot and dragged in the street. With no respect for the dead– or yet murdered, the martyr can be seen with blood dripping from his head and soldiers hauling him by his jacket. I thought of his parents and how this gruesome image would devastate them for life. The settlers in Hebron later celebrated his death by dancing over his body and distributing candy and cheering his death. I can’t imagine a more sickening mentality among mankind than that of the Israeli occupation and their settlers who lavish in shedding Palestinian blood.
I remember at the end of March 2002, I had undergone a surgery and was recuperating at home. A day later, blood was in the air. Ariel Sharon announced commencing what he dubbed as Operation Defensive Shield and gruesome massacre was perpetrated against the people of Jenin in which 52 people were killed. The massive bloodshed had reverberating ripple effects which extended to Gaza. My doctor called me and said if anything happens, we have to move you to the hospital where it would be safer. All kinds of bloody scenarios flashed before my eyes and I tried to imagine what would become of me and my people. I also thought about how surviving, which is any human’s natural wish, would be just as painful. Having followed up the atrocious massacre on television, my heart would remain heavy forever.
Twenty years have passed since the Second Intifada which left at least ‘4,973 Palestinians dead including 1,262 children, 274 women and 32 medical personnel, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.’ What has happened ever since? Has the international community held the killers accountable for their hideous crimes? Have any of the martyrs’ families been recompensed? And more importantly, has the killing stopped? The answer to all the above is: No.
Rana Shubair is a freelance writer based in Gaza. She’s also an author or two book: In Gaza I Dare to Dream and My Lover is a Freedom Fighter.