|Two years into the Intifada
|On 28 September Palestinians will mark the second year of the Intifada. Today, the people of the West Bank and Gaza continue to live under Israeli curfews, restricted by hundreds of checkpoints while poverty and unemployment take an upward trend. This is not to mention those killed and injured, a number increasing by the day.
Despite violent Israeli tactics like incarcerating Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, political analysts believe the Palestinian Intifada is strong and will continue.
With the view that Arab people are unable to help, Palestinians have taken to the street this week to defend their leader and challenge Israeli curfews. The resumption of the Intifada enhanced the view held by many political commentators that no one can stop the struggle for Palestinians independence.
While the Security Council has demanded a resolution, Tuesday, to demand the lifting of the siege on Arafat in Ramallah, it fell on deaf Israeli ears.
Cabinet Minister Saeb Erekat noted the resolution must have teeth to be implemented, noting Israel is "champion" in ignoring resolutions passed by the Security Council. The Palestinian intelligence chief, who is in Arafat's besieged compound, said in an interview Wednesday that he and the Palestinian leader would fight rather than surrender to the Israeli army.
News reports point out that intelligence chief Tawfiq Tirawi is being held along with Arafat and 200 others in the now largely demolished headquarters of the Palestinian president.
"You can kill me, that is a possibility. You can kill Arafat. That is a goal. But you will never make our nation surrender," Tirawi said.
Hence, today Palestinians have come to the obvious conclusion that their Intifada is the only path to throw the yoke of Israeli occupation and achieve independence.
Regardless of the ongoing pressures to stop the Palestinian uprising, "There is an agreement that it is Intifada which forced the UN Security Council for the first time to 'sympathize' with the Palestinians, the US didn't even use its veto this time," Arafat Hijazi, member of the Palestinian National Council told The Star.
On 28 September 2000, the Palestinians revolted against the Likud leader Ariel Sharon who went to the Al Aqsa Mosque at the behest of thousands of armed Israeli soldiers. This provocative Israeli act forced Palestinians on the streets to defend one of the holiest places for all Muslims around the world.
The Palestinian struggle to defend their existence results in confronting one of the most advanced military armies in the world. Today, the number of those killed by Israeli fire stands at 2000 with around 45,000 injured. About 38 percent of those injured are children. In addition, nearly 2500 of those injured will suffer permanent disabilities for the rest of their lives.
Despite the human and economic losses (see page 5), "The Intifada has never stopped, there is an understanding between Palestinian factions to calm down the situation and give international efforts the chance," he added.
Hijazi noted that the Intifada changed many things on the ground. According to Israeli statistics, many settlements on the West Bank and Gaza are now deserted. "The Jewish exodus to Israel stopped and now there is an outward trend where more than one million Jews are reported to have returned back to the countries they came from, according to the statements of a high ranking military official. "The losses which the Palestinian Intifada caused is estimated at $14 billion equaling all of the US aid to Israel in six years," Hijazi continued.
However, the legendary resistance of the Palestinian people is accompanied by those who dream to live in peace without the fears of being killed, injured or their houses demolished. Today 125,000 Palestinians are unable to go to work because of the Israeli army, thus reducing 1.3 million of the population to abject poverty.
A recent poll carried out by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion shows the number of people who support the continuation of the Intifada and those who call for its end stand at half. Yet, the poll indicated that more than 51 percent of the respondents were in favor of suicide attacks against Israel. "This division in the stands of the Palestinians is due to the lack of coordination between the Palestinian factions, if those were unified, the result of their struggle would have been more tangible," Fayez Jaber of the Al Aqsa Studies Center told The Star.
He believes the Intifada is winning the war against the mightier weapons of Israel. "The 'burned land policy' which the Israeli army is using against the Palestinians has proven its failure," he continued.
Jaber, a retired major general, believes Israel's policy of destroying Palestinian infrastructure and killing its people has not been able to stop the resistance. Moreover, Arab countries and President Arafat should support the Intifada since it's the only legitimate means of defending the Palestinian territories.
One of the scenarios Israel suggests for itself during a possible US strike, Jaber said, is a "war of expansion" into Jordan and Lebanon. "Their [Israeli] goal is to eject all the Palestinians to the areas in the south of Jordan and Lebanon," Jaber concluded.