Intifada: then and now
In response to a recent news program in Israel, Col. Jonathan D. Halevi wrote The Palestinian Authority’s Responsibility for the Outbreak of the Second Intifada: Its Own Damning Testimony for the Jerusalem Center of Public Affairs. Even now, as Halevi writes:
More than ten years after the outbreak of the Second Intifada, there are still journalists, former security officials, and pundits who raise questions about the role of the Palestinian Authority in the devastating violence during which suicide bombing attacks struck Israel’s major cities, leaving more than a thousand dead and many more permanently maimed.
What he has compiled shows:
This body of material, presented here in an unvarnished way, reveals that Yasser Arafat and important segments of the Palestinian leadership at that time were directly responsible for what happened and no amount of revisionist history can exonerate Arafat for standing behind one of the bloodiest periods in Israel’s modern history.
Halevi of course presented statements of intent. Halevi covers them beginning with the earliest by Imad Falluji and continuing until Suha Arafat’s latest revelations. I’d like to point out two events that often escape scrutiny. The first was a report in Ha’aretz that was captured by IMRA at the time.
Over the past several weeks, the Palestinian Authority has granted extended vacation leaves to dozens of jailed Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists, among them militants who were involved in serious terror attacks against Israel.Ha’aretz: PA granted dozens of jailed Islamic Jihad, Hamas terrorists “extended vacation”
This was reported September 18, 2000, ten days before Ariel Sharon walked on the Temple Mount. Also the first reported casualty of the so called “Aqsa intifada” was David Biri, an 19 year old soldier.
Sgt. David Biri died of wounds sustained in a bombing near Netzarim in the Gaza Strip. Two pipe bombs were detonated electronically by Palestinian terrorists hiding on the side of the road as several civilian cars, escorted by an army jeep, drove by.
Sgt. Biri was killed September 27, a day before Sharon visited the Temple Mount. The manner of his killing showed planning. Clearly there was already a heightened level of organized violence against Israel prior to the official beginning of the so called intifada. It’s important to remember that the second intifada was not a spontaneous uprising against the occupation but a coordinated campaign of violence against Israel. Now there are suggestions that a new intifada has started. The New York Times reports Palestinians Dispute Israel’s Findings on a Prisoner’s Death:
“I hold Israel fully responsible for killing Arafat Jaradat,” added Mr. Qaraka, who earlier on Sunday called for an international investigation into the death. “The Israeli story was forged and full of lies.” The 4,500 Palestinians in Israeli jails refused meals on Sunday to protest Mr. Jaradat’s death, and hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated in several cities and villages in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. After days of such demonstrations, which have included violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers and settlers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s special envoy, Isaac Molho, sent a message to the Palestinian leadership on Sunday that Israeli officials described as an “unequivocal demand to restore quiet.” Israel also transferred to the Palestinian Authority $100 million in tax revenue it had been withholding.
Later on the New York Times in full sympathy mode reports:
Few issues resonate more deeply in Palestinian society than the plight of prisoners: about 800,000 have been detained in Israeli jails since 1967, according to Palestinian leaders; Mr. Jaradat was the 203rd to die in that time.
Forget for a moment that 203 out of 800,000 is a very small proportion. (Elder of Ziyon noted that young Palestinians die in Israeli jails at less frequently that young American die anywhere.) Of course Palestinians weren’t simply arrested en masse to fulfill some sadistic need of Israeli officials. They were arrested for violations of the law, often violent terrorist incidents. In fact as the article observed that quite a few in Israeli jails committed their crimes after Oslo; after the Palestinians promised to forswear terror. (Many of these violent terrorists – who would never have been released if they’d been arrested by any other country – were released in the Gilad Shalit deal in late 2011.) But no New York Times reporter would write, “The prisoner issue has deep resonance with Israeli society as many of those incarcerated committed acts of violent and sometimes deadly terror since the signing of the Oslo Accords.” The only statements evoking sympathy are in support of the Palestinian narrative. Finally we get this:
Several leaders and commentators warned Sunday that the death, coming amid a severe financial crisis in the West Bank, could lead to extended protests, with most predicting a largely nonviolent movement of civil disobedience like the one Palestinians undertook from 1987 to 1993 rather than the campaign of suicide bombings that began in 2000.
The first intifada was not nonviolent. It was less lethal than the later one. Throwing rocks and firebombs are not nonviolent. But now there are those who are trying to explain away the current unrest as another spontaneous “non-violent” intifada and justifying it. Elder of Ziyon, Israelly Cool and Israel Matzav show different forms that this campaign is taking. Back in December, Khaled Abu Toameh wrote about the rumors he was hearing from the Palestinian Authority and Hamas:
Both Abbas and Hamas see the two events — the war in the Gaza Strip and the UN vote — as “historic achievements” and military and political victories over Israel. Emboldened by the “victories,” Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal recently reached a secret agreement on the need to launch a “popular intifada” against Israel in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestinian sources in Ramallah revealed. The two men believe that such an intifada at this stage would further isolate Israel and earn the Palestinians even more sympathy in the international arena, the sources said.
Reporters aren’t likely to look past the violence and explain it away, but past experience shows that the violence is likely orchestrated. The events of recent months seem to confirm Abu Toameh’s reporting. The Tower (an online news site produces by The Israel Project) observes:
Throughout 2012 senior Palestinian leaders – Fatah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad – called for Palestinians to launch a third Intifada and resume violent attacks against Israel. And as predicted, recent weeks have seen an uptick in orchestrated demonstrations and public violence among Palestinians targeting Israelis, including lynching attempts that reminded Israelis and observers of the lynchings that marked the beginning of the Second Intifada. As early as January of this year, military and security sources in Israel were reported to have identified an emerging wave of violence driven in part by Fatah’s failed diplomatic gambits, including those strenuously opposed by President Obama who repeatedly warned of the counterproductive danger of the PA’s unproductive diplomatic maneuvering, and by a deliberate attempt by Fatah leaders to exploit and provoke the frustration they themselves created…
Lynching isn’t usually described as non-violent. Jonathan Tobin believes that the surge of violence is intended to make an impression on President Obama:
It’s difficult to say yet what exactly will be on President Obama’s mind when he heads to Israel next month, but an all-out push for another futile try to make peace with the Palestinians may not be on the agenda. It’s likely the president will continue his advocacy for a two-state solution, but after more than four years of failure even this administration appears to have gotten the message that any more effort expended on the peace process will be sunk, as it has every other time, by Palestinian intransigence. But the Palestinian Authority, which has ignored every attempt by the Obama White House to tip the diplomatic playing field in their favor, may be planning its own little surprise for the president.
And Honest Reporting ties the current news to the Halevi report. One theme that has emerged from the reporting is that Hamas and Fatah are in agreement about the escalation of violence. In other words, Abbas, who has failed to come to a power sharing agreement with Hamas, has nonetheless found common ground with Hamas in fighting Israel. What does that say about Israel’s “peace partner?”