How did Palestinian life change during and after the Second Intifada?
Fourteen years ago today, Ariel Sharon’s ill-conceived visit to the Al-Aqsa compound in East Jerusalem sowed the seeds for wide-spread protest among Palestinians against Israeli occupation. The demonstrations became known as the Second Intifada, or the Al Aqsa Intifada, and the repercussions of Israeli attempts to suppress it still persist to this day.
Israeli measures during this time took a heavy toll on the lives and livelihoods of Palestinians. During the uprising between 2000 and 2005, more than 3,000 Palestinians were killed[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”]. Palestinians were also subjected to a series of curfews, roadblocks and checkpoints that restricted movement between towns and villages on a larger scale than ever before.
In addition to the above restrictions on movement, in 2002, the Israeli government began construction of a 708 kilometre separation wall in the West Bank. In July 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued a legal advisory opinion on the wall, following a request by the UN General Assembly. The wall was declared illegal by 14 judges out of 15. However, ten years after the ICJ decision, the illegal construction continues.
The construction of the barrier means that thousands of Palestinians now require permits to live in their own homes. According to 2013 UN report, those with agricultural land beyond the barrier can only gain access to it for two months out of the year (between October and December), if they have permits. Permits are usually rejected and these restrictions have forced farmers to switch to low-value crops. Many communities are cut off from their economic centres- sustainable development for Palestinians in general across the West Bank has been severely restricted.
The period of the Second Intifada saw a drastic change in the socio-economic and physical landscape of Palestine. Beyond the loss of lives, Palestinians lost their fundamental right to freedom of movement, which has had a direct and long-term impact on their basic right to work, medical care, and education.
Today in the Occupied Territories, over 40% of the Palestinian population are classified as poor, whilst 16% cannot afford the minimum required calorie intake. With unemployment rates chronically high due in large part to movement restrictions, the opportunity to meet the minimal needs for survival is severely compromised.
The Second Intifada brought the continued struggles faced by thousands of Palestinians to the world’s stage. The anniversary of the first protests in East Jerusalem fourteen years ago is a sombre reminder that thousands of Palestinians are still being denied their basic rights.