Today we commemorate the start of the Al-Aqsa Intifada (Second Intifada), which lasted from September 2000 – February 2005. The Second Intifada began on Sept. 28, 2000 after the zionist war criminal Ariel Sharon visited the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem under the protection of hundreds of police. In an attempt to provoke Palestinians, Sharon repeated a phrase that was broadcasted during the Six Day War when israeli forces seized and occupied East Jerusalem, “The Temple Mount is in our hands.”
Sharon’s visit sparked outrage amongst Palestinians, who reacted to the attack on Al-Aqsa, the third holiest site in Islam, by confronting and resisting israeli occupation forces throughout Palestine. This launched a new chapter of Palestinian resistance to zionist settler colonialism, from mass popular resistance in the streets, to the iconic images of Palestinian youth throwing stones at tanks, to armed struggle waged by Palestinian resistance groups.
The occupation responded with an oppressive siege on Palestinians, severely restricting freedom of movement through curfews and checkpoints and carrying out daily raids and abductions, imprisoning and torturing Palestinian civilians. In 2002, when israel began construction of the Apartheid Wall, it turned the West Bank into a militarized archipelago surrounded by rapidly growing illegal settlements, all while destroying thousands of Palestinian homes.
Over the course of the Second Intifada, at least 5,000 Palestinians were martyred, from youth protesting against the suffocating occupation, to freedom fighters who took up arms to resist israeli genocide and ethnic cleansing. An estimated 10,000 children were also wounded during this time.
When the Oslo Accords were signed, the late Palestinian intellectual Edward Said reacted by saying, “Let us call the agreement by its real name: an instrument of Palestinian surrender.” The Second Intifada proved that Palestinians rejected Oslo, refused to surrender and remained committed to resistance as the path to liberation.