The First Intifada: The stone resistance against occupation

The enduring picture of the intifada is one of young men and boys throwing stones and rocks at Israeli troop

The First Intifada: The stone resistance against occupation

World Bulletin/News Desk

The meaning of the word initifada in Arabic means to “ shake off”. The intifada needs to be thought of as a rebellion movement. Going by this definition then its what you would consider a response by the Palestinians to Israel's illegal occupation. Left alone with their struggle the Arab countries and Palestinian supporters have had their share of this response. The Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) believe that it has been ineffective and have taken over the case and as a result have shown their determination.

The rise of the Palestinians in Gaza and an important element that unites them for this purpose, can be traced back to the bombing of the Amal miliita by Israel the year before of the intifada. It has been possible to observe the intensity and increasingly consistent attacks by Israel. These responses indicated that the intifada was close. Seeing the seriousness of the situation, Israel began drastic measures and inceased its oppression and violence. They attempted to dissuade the demonstrations by people and arrested other people and youth whilst  Palestinians held hunger strikes in prison, preventing the extinguishment of the uprising. Over time the prisons and the hunger strikes became the symbol of the resistance.

Although months had passed since the Israeli- peace talks had begun, with Palestinians not being given their rights, the Israeli army organising the Sabra-Shatila massacre and the PLO representing Palestinian interests left them no choice but to leave Lebanon.  With everything so bad for the Palestinians and going right for the Israeli's, the unexpected turn of events carries the marker than changed the balance in the occupied territories.

The 8th of December 1987 marks the date of the first mass uprising against the Israeli occupation. After a truck carrying  Palestinians workers was hit by a Jewish owned truck killing four and injuring 9 of them, the Palestinians believe that this was a deliberate act in revenge for the earlier death of a Jew, whereby the funeral for those who had died had turned into a rally lasting well after the funeral. The situation worsened when a Palestinian youth was killed by Jewish soldiers in the town of Jabiliya. In order to prevent the onslaught of the Israeli soliders, a Palestinian youth threw a pebble, which turned into the “stone throwing Palestinian” - the situation then poured over into the West Bankd and Gaza.

With each funeral turning into a rally made Israel uncomfortable and ordered all funerals to be held at night.  This then turned into a united goal for all Palestinians with civil disobedience,  anti-Israeli slogans on walls, general strikes and road barricades, all ppouring over into the West bank.  Although it was said that the actions were begun because of pressure at this stage it was only protests and demonstrations and there was nothing that had to be controlled. The army did intervene using tear gas, plastic bullets and ammunition was used causing death and injury to many Palestinians.

The Palestinian Intifada was raised to new levels when the ex Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin  said that “We will break the arms and legs of any stone throwers” and the following February a photographer spread a photo of an Israeli soldier breaking the arm of a Palestinian youth. Nearly 1300 Palestinians and 160 Israeli's were killed in this first intifada.

With this unexpected developments the PLO leader Arafat organised and saw an opportunity to use this situation in favour of Palestine, changing Palestinian and Israeli politics. As a result the divided Palestinian elements were now united and could act with a common goal changing the future of the region and believing that they had the strength to overcome years of problems.

Meanwhile Israeli Defence Minister had now put in a curvew and ordered all schools to be closed, and ordering anyone who was a threat to be under surveillance  and deported. These actions then pushed the Palestinans to move in the direction of non-government organisations and cultural organisations, modelling themselves on the Shiite groups of Lebanon that stood against Israel. The first six months of the intifada  in 1988 saw the arrest and detention of thousands of 11,000. With even a slight comment by an Israeli to say that they were attacked by a stone was enough for a Palestinian to be arrested with a fine and 8 month prison sentence.

The Palestinian Law Centre said that after 8 December 300,000 Palestinians were arrested and 210,000 of these were arrested between 1987-1994.

It can be said that the intifada, despite at the beginning being unorganised and with no clear target, owes its success and existence largely to Palestinian youth, who also affected their families with their selfless determination, and as such became the main goal of the Israeli army.

In 1988 Algeria had announced the State of Palestine, and at this stage the PLO had no control over any land. Despite this the Palestinian government has been accepted by many governments. It acknowledged the state  of Israel and declared that it will terminate any action that would be classified as terrorism and began to put pressure on the world public for Israel to make peace and address their demands for freedom and self determination. Gernating international sympathy, the intifada paved the way for a series of meetings between world leaders.

The first demand started with George W Bushes threat of withholding $10 billion in loan guarantee unless Israel  ended settle construction. This lead to the then Israeli Prime Minister Shamir to meet with Palestininan represtatives, but not the PLO, although the PLO was considered the sole legitimate representative of the Palestian people by the UN. These talks began in Madrid in 1991  and was attended by the governments of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Israel and a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation as the Israelis refused to recognise or treat the Palesitnians as an independent body.

The conference in Madrid had two different goals – one was to initiate and hopefully begin a lasting peaceful solution between the Arab states and Israel, whlist the other was to hopefully mediate a solution for Palestine and the Palestinian people to be able to self-govern. This conference lead to further bilateral and multilateral peace talks, culminating in the Oslo records  signed in September 1993 which resulted in key agreements between Israel and the PLO. The intifada itself demonstrated the plight of the Palestinians and their legitimate national sentiment.

One of the symbols of the First Intifada happened after the Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin implements the infamous “broken bones” policy, ordering security forces to break the limbs of rock-throwing Palestinians and other demonstrators.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 09 Aralık 2014, 17:33