Six years ago today, on September 29th 2000, the uprising known as the
'Al-Aqsa Intifada' began in the Palestinian Occupied Territories after
then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon paid a provocative visit to the
Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the third-holiest site in Islam,
surrounded by dozens of armed soldiers and with the stated intention of
eventually removing the Mosque and turning the site into a synagogue.
Six years later, the Intifada continues with no end in sight, worsened
by an Israeli economic and military siege on the Palestinian
territories since the Palestinian election of the Hamas party in
The Palestinian Bureau of Statistics prepared and published a report that revealed 4248 Palestinians have been killed in the last six years of open conflict, 20% of whom were children, 80% of whom were civilians, not involved in fighting.
In the same time period, the Israeli military estimates that 1115 Israelis were killed, of whom they estimate 70% were civilians. The Israeli statistics include as civilians people who live on militarily-occupied Palestinian land in contravention of international law and International Court of Justice rulings. The vast majority of Israelis killed were killed by small-arms fire while invading the Palestinian occupied territories, according to Israeli military statistics.
Palestinians hope for a peace agreement that will end the intifada, an Arabic word for uprising that means literally 'shaking-off' – referring in this case to 'shaking-off' the Israeli military that has occupied all Palestinian land since 1967. The first intifada, from 1987 to 1993, was known as the 'intifada of stones', as it consisted mainly of young boys throwing stones at invading Israeli tanks and soldiers. That uprising ended with the 'Oslo Agreement' in 1993, an agreement which granted temporary control over much of the Palestinian territory to the Israeli military, and resulted in the formation of the Palestinian Authority.
Under the Oslo Agreement, Israeli forces agreed to hand over control of all of Palestine to the Palestinian Authority within five years, in 1998. That handover never happened, however, as the Israeli military solidified its control over more than half of the Palestinian land and moved more than 300,000 civilians into colonies in the occupied territories in the period leading up to the 2000 uprising. Since the uprising began in 2000, Israeli settlement expansion has continued. Despite the withdrawal of 5,000 settlers from the occupied Gaza Strip last year, the overall population of settlements has grown steadily.
The construction of the Israeli Wall has also served as a source of tension, as it is being constructed deep within Palestinian territory around the illegal Israeli settlements, apparently in an attempt by Israeli authorities to create new de facto borders for the state of Israel, and surround the remaining Palestinian population of 5 million people into enclaves, completely surrounded by the Wall.