By Act For Palestine Foundation Staff
Several weeks following the unsuccessful Camp David summit, hosted by former U.S. President Bill Clinton in an attempt to resolve the Palestinian issue and improve the lives of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation, Ariel Sharon, then Prime Minister of the Israeli government, made a fateful decision to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque. This choice set off a chain of events that ultimately led to the outbreak of the second Al-Aqsa Intifada on September 28, 2000. At this pivotal moment, Sharon ignored Palestinian warnings and persisted in his attempt to enter the sacred grounds of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The Spark of the Intifada
Hundreds of Israeli soldiers and police were stationed at the Al-Aqsa Mosque to facilitate the Israeli entry, a move authorized by the Israeli government. However, Palestinian worshippers were deeply disturbed by this sight and employed all means at their disposal to prevent the incursion. They resorted to hurling shoes at the Israeli soldiers stationed at the entrance to the Al-Qibli prayer area of the mosque. As a result of this confrontation, numerous Palestinians and Israeli occupation soldiers suffered injuries on that day.
Confrontations erupted in the vicinity of Al-Aqsa and Old Jerusalem, quickly spreading to the occupied Palestinian territories of 1948, resulting in the tragic loss of 13 lives. The confrontations persisted and the Al-Aqsa Intifada escalated, extending to all cities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Over the course of five years, this turbulent period witnessed the loss of over four thousand Palestinian lives.
The Killing of the Child Muhammad Al-Durra
Two days following Sharon’s incursion into the Al-Aqsa Mosque, a shocking video tape emerged, revealing the live execution of 11-year-old Muhammad al-Durra, who had sought refuge alongside his father in a cement barrel in Gaza. The Israeli army’s actions in this tragic incident incited widespread anger among Palestinians, prompting them to participate in angry demonstrations and confrontations with the Israeli military. Unfortunately, these protests resulted in the martyrdom and injury of dozens of Palestinians.
Compared to the first intifada, the second one was marked by numerous confrontations and an escalation in military engagements between the Palestinian resistance and the Israeli army. Official figures from both Palestinian and Israeli sources report that the second intifada led to the martyrdom of 4,412 Palestinians and the injury of more than 48,000 individuals.
Throughout the intifada, the West Bank and Gaza Strip witnessed repeated military incursions, the destruction of thousands of homes, and the devastation of thousands of acres of agricultural land. Initially, Palestinians used stones to confront the Israeli occupation army, but they quickly evolved, developing their capabilities and becoming more organized in their resistance.
The Al-Aqsa Intifada persisted until February 2005 when it came to a halt following the signing of a truce agreement between Israelis and Palestinians at the Sharm El-Sheikh summit. However, many observers argue that the second intifada didn’t truly conclude at that time due to the failure of both Palestinians and occupation government to reach a political solution, leading to continued confrontations in the occupied cities of the West Bank.
Israeli dismissal of Palestinian human rights
Following the subsiding of the intifada, and in a climate where the political path was obstructed by Israeli inflexibility in settlement negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, ongoing desecration of Al-Aqsa, the expansion of settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem, as well as the enduring blockade of the Gaza Strip, the spark of the Jerusalem Intifada was reignited on October 1, 2015.
Twenty-three years fast-forward, Al-Aqsa Mosque remains a focal point of tension between Palestinians and Israeli occupation forces. The most recent flare-up occurred when settlers attempted to enter the mosque during the holy month of Ramadan in May 2021. This marked another instance of the Israeli government’s efforts to alter the status quo at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, potentially depriving Palestinians of their historical and religious rights to this sacred site.
Act for Palestine is a Palestinian foundation founded in 2022, whose mission is to amplify the Palestinian narrative on the global stage, illuminate injustices inflicted by Israeli actions, and advocate for accountability and justice for the Palestinian people.
The views expressed in the article are the author’s own, and they do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Days of Palestine.