"Al-Aqsa Intifada" redirects here. For the album of this name, see Al-Aqsa Intifada (album).
This article is about the Second Palestinian Intifada. For the Second Sahrawi Intifada, see Independence Intifada (Western Sahara).
|Part of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict|
Israeli soldiers in Nablus, during Operation Defensive Shield
Palestinian National Security Forces
Supported by;Iraq(until 2003)
|Commanders and leaders|
|Casualties and losses|
29 September 2000 – 1 January 2005:945[not in citation given]–1,010 Israeli total:
- 644–773 Israeli civilians killed by Palestinians;
- 215–301 Israeli security force personnel killed by Palestinians
29 September 2000 – 1 January 2005:3,179–3,354 Palestinians total:
- 2,739–3,168 Palestinians killed by Israel's security forces;*
- 34 Palestinians killed by Israeli civilians;
- 152–406 Palestinians killed by Palestinians;
|55 foreign citizens total:|
- 45 foreign citizens killed by Palestinians;
- 10 foreign citizens killed by Israeli security forces
|*For the controversial issue of the Palestinian civilian/combatant breakdown, see Casualties.|
The Second Intifada, also known as the Al-Aqsa Intifada (Arabic: انتفاضة الأقصى Intifāḍat al-ʾAqṣā; Hebrew: אינתיפאדת אל-אקצה Intifādat El-Aqtzah), was the second Palestinian uprising against Israel – a period of intensified Israeli–Palestinian violence. It started in September 2000, when Ariel Sharon made a visit to the Temple Mount, seen by Palestinians as highly provocative; and Palestinian demonstrators, throwing stones at police, were dispersed by the Israeli army, using tear gas and rubber bullets.
Both parties caused high numbers of casualties among civilians as well as combatants: the Palestinians by numerous suicide bombings and gunfire; the Israelis by tank and gunfire and air attacks, by numerous targeted killings, and by reactions to demonstrations. The death toll, including both military and civilian, is estimated to be about 3,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis, as well as 64 foreigners.
Many consider the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit on 8 February 2005 to be the end of the Second Intifada, when President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon agreed that all Palestinians would stop all acts of violence against all Israelis everywhere and, in parallel, that Israel would cease all its military activity against all Palestinians everywhere. They reaffirmed their commitment to the Roadmap for Peace which began at Madrid[clarification needed]. However, the violence did not stop in the following years, though suicide bombings decreased significantly.
Second Intifada refers to a second Palestinian uprising, following the first Palestinian uprising, which occurred between December 1987 and 1993. "Intifada" (انتفاضة) translates into English as "uprising." Its root is an Arabic word meaning "the shaking off." It has been used in the meaning of "insurrection" in various Arab countries. The Egyptian riots of 1977 were called the "bread intifada". The term refers to a revolt against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories.
Al-Aqsa Intifada refers to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the place where the intifada started. It is the name of a mosque, constructed in the 8th century CE at Al-Haram Al-Sharif, also known as the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, a location considered the holiest site in Judaism and third holiest in Islam.
The Intifada is sometimes called the Oslo War (מלחמת אוסלו) by some Israelis who consider it to be the result of concessions made by Israel following the Oslo Accords, and Arafat's War, after the late Palestinian leader whom some blamed for starting it. Others have named what they consider disproportionate response to what was initially a popular uprising by unarmed demonstrators as the reason for the escalation of the Intifada into an all out war.
See also: Palestinian political violence and Israeli-occupied territories
Under the Oslo Accords, signed in 1993 and 1995, Israel committed to the phased withdrawal of its forces from parts of the Gaza Strip and West Bank, and affirmed the Palestinian right to self-government within those areas through the creation of a Palestinian Authority. For their part, the Palestine Liberation Organization formally recognised Israel and committed to adopting responsibility for internal security in population centres in the areas evacuated. Palestinian self-rule was to last for a five-year interim period during which a permanent agreement would be negotiated. However, the realities on the ground left both sides deeply disappointed with the Oslo process. Israelis and Palestinians have blamed each other for the failure of the Oslo peace process. In the five years immediately following the signing of the Oslo accords, 405 Palestinians and 256 Israelis were killed, which for the latter represented a casualty count higher than that of the previous fifteen years combined (216, 172 of whom were killed during the First Intifada).
From 1996 Israel made extensive contingency plans and preparations, collectively code-named "Musical Charm," in the eventuality that peace talks might fail. In 1998, after concluding that the 5-year plan stipulated in the Oslo Talks would not be completed, the IDF implemented an Operation Field of Thorns plan to conquer towns in Area C, and some areas of Gaza, and military exercises at regimental level were carried out in April 2000 to that end. Palestinian preparations were defensive, and small scale, more to reassure the local population than to cope with an eventual attack from Israel. The intensity of these operations led one Brigadier General, Zvi Fogel to wonder whether Israel's military preparations would not turn out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
In 1995, Shimon Peres took the place of Yitzhak Rabin, who had been assassinated by Yigal Amir, a Jewish extremist opposed to the Oslo peace agreement. In the 1996 elections, Israelis elected a right-wing coalition led by the Likud candidate, Benjamin Netanyahu who was followed in 1999 by the Labor Party leader Ehud Barak.
Camp David Summit
From 11 to 25 July 2000, the Middle East Peace Summit at Camp David was held between United States PresidentBill Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. The talks ultimately failed with each side blaming the other. There were four principal obstacles to agreement: territory, Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, refugees and the right of return, and Israeli security concerns. Disappointment at the situation over the summer led to a significant fracturing of the PLO as many Fatah factions abandoned it to join Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
On 13 September 2000, Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Legislative Council postponed the planned unilateral declaration of an independent Palestinian state.
While Peres had limited settlement construction at the request of US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, Netanyahu continued construction within existing Israeli settlements  and put forward plans for the construction of a new neighbourhood, Har Homa, in East Jerusalem. However, he fell far short of the Shamir government's 1991–92 level and refrained from building new settlements, although the Oslo agreements stipulated no such ban. Construction of Housing Units Before Oslo: 1991–92: 13,960, After Oslo: 1994–95: 3,840, 1996–1997: 3,570.
With the aim of marginalising the settlers' more militant wing, Barak courted moderate settler opinion, securing agreement for the dismantlement of 12 new outposts that had been constructed since the Wye River Agreement of November 1998, but the continued expansion of existing settlements with plans for 3,000 new houses in the West Bank drew strong condemnation from the Palestinian leadership. Though construction within existing settlements was permitted under the Oslo agreements, Palestinian supporters contend that any continued construction was contrary to its spirit, prejudiced the outcome of final status negotiations, and undermined Palestinian confidence in Barak's desire for peace.
The Middle East Peace Summit at Camp David from 11 to 25 July 2000, took place between United States PresidentBill Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. It failed with the latter two blaming each other for the failure of the talks. There were four principal obstacles to agreement: territory, Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, Palestinian refugees and the right of return, and Israeli security concerns.
Sharon visits Temple Mount
On 28 September, Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon together with a Likud party delegation surrounded by hundreds of Israeli riot police, visited the Temple Mount. Al-Aqsa Mosque is part of the compound and is widely considered the third holiest site in Islam. Israel asserted its control by incorporating East Jerusalem into Jerusalem in 1980, and the compound is the holiest site in Judaism. Sharon was only permitted to enter the compound after the Israeli Interior Minister had received assurances from the Palestinian Authority's security chief that no problems would arise if he made the visit. Sharon did not actually go into the Al-Aqsa Mosque and went during normal tourist hours. Colin Shindler writes, "Shlomo Ben-Ami, the Minister of Internal security, was told by Israeli intelligence that there was no concerted risk of violence. This was implicitly confirmed by Jibril Rajoub, the Palestinian head of Preventive Security on the West Bank, who told Ben-Shlomo that Sharon could visit the Haram, but not enter a mosque on security grounds."
Shortly after Sharon left the site, angry demonstrations by Palestinian Jerusalemites outside erupted into rioting. The person in charge of the waqf at the time, Abu Qteish, was later indicted by Israel for using a loud-speaker to call on Palestinians to defend Al-Aqsa at the time, which action Israeli authorities claimed was responsible for the subsequent stone-throwing in the direction of the Wailing Wall. Israeli police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, while protesters hurled stones and other projectiles, injuring 25 policemen, of whom one was seriously injured and had to be taken to hospital. At least three Palestinians were wounded by rubber bullets.
The stated purpose for Sharon's visit of the compound was to assert the right of all Israelis to visit the Temple Mount; however, according to Likud spokesman Ofir Akunis, the purpose was to "show that under a Likud government [the Temple Mount] will remain under Israeli sovereignty." Ehud Barak in the Camp David negotiations had insisted that East Jerusalem, where the Haram was located, would remain under complete Israeli sovereignty. In response to accusations by Ariel Sharon of government readiness to concede the site to the Palestinians, the Israeli government gave Sharon permission to visit the area. When alerted of his intentions, senior Palestinian figures, such as Yasser Arafat, Saeb Erekat, and Faisal Husseini all asked Sharon to call off his visit.
The Palestinians, some 10 days earlier, had just observed their annual memorial day for the Sabra and Shatila massacre. The Kahan Commission had concluded that Ariel Sharon, who was Defense Minister during the Sabra and Shatila massacre, was found to bear personal responsibility "for ignoring the danger of bloodshed and revenge" and "not taking appropriate measures to prevent bloodshed." Sharon's negligence in protecting the civilian population of Beirut, which had come under Israeli control amounted to a non-fulfillment of a duty with which the Defence Minister was charged, and it was recommended that Sharon be dismissed as Defence Minister. Sharon initially refused to resign, but after the death of an Israeli after a peace march, Sharon did resign as Defense minister, but remained in the Israeli cabinet.
The Palestinians condemned Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount as a provocation and an incursion, as were his armed bodyguards that arrived on the scene with him. Critics claim that Sharon knew that the visit could trigger violence, and that the purpose of his visit was political. According to one observer, Sharon, in walking on the temple Mount, was "skating on the thinnest ice in the Arab-Israeli conflict." According to Yossef Bodansky,
Clinton's proposal [...] included explicit guarantees that Jews would have the right to visit and pray in and around the Temple Mount... Once Sharon was convinced that Jews had free access to the Temple Mount, there would be little the Israeli religious and nationalist Right could do to stall the peace process. When Sharon expressed interest in visiting the Temple Mount, Barak ordered GSS chief Ami Ayalon to approach Jibril Rajoub with a special request to facilitate a smooth and friendly visit. [...] Rajoub promised it would be smooth as long as Sharon would refrain from entering any of the mosques or praying publicly. [...] Just to be on the safe side, Barak personally approached Arafat and once again got assurances that Sharon's visit would be smooth as long as he did not attempt to enter the Holy Mosques. [...] A group of Palestinian dignitaries came to protest the visit, as did three Arab Knesset Members. With the dignitaries watching from a safe distance, the Shabab (youth mob) threw rocks and attempted to get past the Israeli security personnel and reach Sharon and his entourage. [...] Still, Sharon's deportment was quiet and dignified. He did not pray, did not make any statement, or do anything else that might be interpreted as offensive to the sensitivities of Muslims. Even after he came back near the Wailing Wall under the hail of rocks, he remained calm. "I came here as one who believes in coexistence between Jews and Arabs," Sharon told the waiting reporters. "I believe that we can build and develop together. This was a peaceful visit. Is it an instigation for Israeli Jews to come to the Jewish people's holiest site?"
Shlomo Ben-Ami, the then acting Israeli Foreign Minister, has maintained, however, that he received Palestinian assurances that no violence would occur, provided that Ariel Sharon not enter one of the mosques.
According to The New York Times, many in the Arab world, including Egyptians, Palestinians, Lebanese and Jordanians, point to Sharon's visit as the beginning of the Second Intifada and derailment of the peace process. According to Juliana Ochs, Sharon's visit 'symbolically instigated' the second intifada.Marwan Barghouti said that although Sharon's provocative actions were a rallying point for Palestinians, the Second Intifada would have erupted even had he not visited the Temple Mount.
First days of the Intifada
On 29 September 2000, the day after Sharon's visit, following Friday prayers, large riots broke out around the Old City of Jerusalem. After Palestinians on the Temple Mount threw rocks over the Western Wall at Jewish worshippers, Israeli police fired back. The switch to live ammunition occurred when the chief of Jerusalem's police force was knocked unconscious by a rock. Police then switched to live ammunition, killing four Palestinian youths. Up to 200 Palestinians and police were injured. Another three Palestinians were killed in the Old City and on the Mount of Olives. By the end of the day, 7 Palestinians had been killed and 300 had been wounded. 70 Israeli policemen were also injured in the clashes.
In the days that followed, demonstrations erupted all over the West Bank and Gaza. Israeli police responded with live fire and rubber-coated bullets. In the first five days, at least 47 Palestinians were killed, and 1,885 were wounded. In Paris, as Jacques Chirac attempted to mediate between the parties, he protested to Barak that the ratio of Palestinian and Israeli killed and wounded on one day were such that he could not convince anyone the Palestinians were the aggressors. He also told Barak that "continu(ing) to fire from helicopters on people throwing rocks" and refusing an international inquiry was tantamount to rejecting Arafat's offer to participate in trilateral negotiations. On 27 September, an Israeli soldier was killed and another lightly wounded in a bombing by Palestinian militants near the Gaza Strip settlement of Netzarim. Two days later, Palestinian police officer Nail Suleiman opened fire on an Israel Border Police Jeep during a joint patrol in the West Bank city of Qalqiliyah, killing Supt. Yosef Tabeja. During the first few days of riots, the IDF fired approximately 1.3 million bullets.
According to Amnesty International the early Palestinian casualties were those taking part in demonstrations or bystanders. Amnesty further states that approximately 80% of the Palestinians killed during the first month were in demonstrations where Israeli security services lives were not in danger.
On 30 September 2000, the death of Muhammad al-Durrah, a Palestinian boy shot dead while sheltering behind his father in an alley in the Gaza Strip was caught on video. Initially the boy's death and his father's wounding was attributed to Israeli soldiers. The scene assumed iconic status, as it was shown around the world and repeatedly broadcast on Arab television. The Israeli army initially assumed responsibility for the killing and apologised, and only retracted 2 months later, when an internal investigation cast doubt on the original version, and controversy subsequently raged as to whether indeed the IDF had fired the shots or Palestinian factions were responsible for the fatal gunshots.
October 2000 events
Main article: October 2000 events
The "October 2000 events" refers to several days of disturbances and clashes inside Israel, mostly between Arab citizens and the Israel police. The events also saw large-scale rioting by both Arabs and Jews. Twelve Arab citizens of Israel and a Palestinian from the Gaza Strip were killed by Israeli police, while an Israeli Jew was killed when his car was hit by a rock on the Tel-Aviv-Haifa freeway. During the first month of the Intifada, 141 Palestinians were killed and 5,984 were wounded while 12 Israelis were killed and 65 wounded.
A general strike and demonstrations across northern Israel began on 1 October and continued for several days. In some cases, the demonstrations escalated into clashes with the Israeli police involving rock-throwing, firebombing, and live-fire. Policemen used tear-gas and opened fire with rubber-coated bullets and later live ammunition in some instances, many times in contravention of police protocol governing riot-dispersion. This use of live ammunition was directly linked with many of the deaths by the Or Commission.
On 8 October, thousands of Jewish Israelis participated in violent acts in Tel Aviv and elsewhere, some throwing stones at Arabs, destroying Arab property and chanting "Death to the Arabs."
Following the riots, a high degree of tension between Jewish and Arab citizens and distrust between the Arab citizens and police were widespread. An investigation committee, headed by Supreme Court Justice Theodor Or, reviewed the violent riots and found that the police were poorly prepared to handle such riots and charged major officers with bad conduct. The Or Commission reprimanded Prime Minister Ehud Barak and recommended Shlomo Ben-Ami, then the Internal Security Minister, not serve again as Minister of Public Security. The committee also blamed Arab leaders and Knesset members for contributing to inflaming the atmosphere and making the violence more severe.
Ramallah lynching and Israeli response
Main article: 2000 Ramallah lynching
On 12 October, PA police arrested two Israeli reservists who had accidentally entered Ramallah, where in the preceding weeks a hundred Palestinians had been killed, nearly two dozen of them minors. Rumours quickly spread that Israeli undercover agents were in the building, and an angry crowd of more than 1,000 Palestinians gathered in front of the station calling for their death. Both soldiers were beaten, stabbed, and disembowelled, and one body was set on fire. An Italian television crew captured the killings on video and then broadcast his tape internationally. A British journalist had his camera destroyed by rioters as he attempted to take a picture. The brutality of the killings shocked the Israeli public, who saw it as proof of a deep-seated Palestinian hatred of Israel and Jews. In response, Israel launched a series of retaliatory air-strikes against Palestinian Authority targets in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The police station where the lynching had taken place was evacuated and destroyed in these operations. Israel later tracked down and arrested those responsible for killing the soldiers.
November and December
Clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians increased sharply on 1 November, when three Israeli soldiers and six Palestinians were killed, and four IDF soldiers and 140 Palestinians were wounded. In subsequent days, casualties increased as the IDF attempted to restore order, with clashes occurring every day in November. A total of 122 Palestinians and 22 Israelis were killed. On 27 November, the first day of Ramadan, Israel eased restrictions on the passage of goods and fuel through the Karni crossing. That same day, the Jerusalem settlement of Gilo came under Palestinian heavy machine gun fire from Beit Jala. Israel tightened restrictions a week later, and Palestinians continued to clash with the IDF and Israeli settlers, with a total of 51 Palestinians and 8 Israelis killed in December.
The Taba Summit between Israel and the Palestinian Authority was held from 21 to 27 January 2001, at Taba in the Sinai peninsula. Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat came closer to reaching a final settlement than any previous or subsequent peace talks yet ultimately failed to achieve their goals.
On 17 January 2001, Israeli teenager Ofir Rahum was murdered after being lured into Ramallah by a 24-year-old Palestinian, Mona Jaud Awana, a member of Fatah's Tanzim. She had contacted Ofir on the internet and engaged in an online romance with him for several months. She eventually convinced him to drive to Ramallah to meet her, where he was instead ambushed by three Palestinian gunmen and shot over fifteen times. Awana was later arrested in a massive military and police operation, and imprisoned for life. Five other Israelis were killed in January, along with eighteen Palestinians.
Ariel Sharon, at the time from the Likud party, ran against Ehud Barak from the Labour party. Sharon was elected Israeli Prime Minister 6 February 2001 in the 2001 special election to the Prime Ministership. Sharon refused to meet in person with Yasser Arafat.
Violence in March resulted in the deaths of 8 Israelis, mostly civilians, and 26 Palestinians. In Hebron, a Palestinian sniper killed ten-month-old Israeli baby Shalhevet Pass. The murder shocked the Israeli public. According to the Israel police investigation the sniper aimed deliberately at the baby.
On 30 April 2001, seven Palestinian militants were killed in an explosion, one of them a participant in Ofir Rahum's murder. The IDF refused to confirm or deny Palestinian accusations that it was responsible.
On 7 May 2001, the IDF naval commandos captured the vessel Santorini, which sailed in international waters towards Palestinian Authority-controlled Gaza. The ship was laden with weaponry. The Israeli investigation that followed alleged that the shipment had been purchased by Ahmed Jibril's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command (PFLP-GC). The ship's value and that of its cargo was estimated at $10 million. The crew was reportedly planning to unload the cargo of weapons-filled barrels—carefully sealed and waterproofed along with their contents—at a prearranged location off the Gaza coast, where the Palestinian Authority would recover it.
On 8 May 2001, two Israeli teenagers, Yaakov "Koby" Mandell (13) and Yosef Ishran (14) were kidnapped while hiking near their village. Their bodies were discovered the next morning in a cave near where they lived.USA Today reported that, according to the police, both boys had "been bound, stabbed and beaten to death with rocks." The newspaper continued, "The walls of the cave in the Judean Desert were covered with the boys' blood, reportedly smeared there by the killers."
After a suicide bombing struck Netanya on 18 May 2001, Israel for the first time since 1967 used warplanes to attack Palestinian Authority targets in the West Bank and Gaza, killing 12 Palestinians. In the past, airstrikes had been carried out with helicopter gunships.
On 1 June 2001, an Islamic Jihadsuicide bomber detonated himself in the Tel Aviv coastline Dolphinarium dancing club. Twenty-one Israeli civilians, most of them high school students, were killed and 132 injured. The attack significantly hampered American attempts to negotiate cease-fire.
The 12 June Murder of Georgios Tsibouktzakis by Palestinina snipers was later tied to Marwan Barghouti.
A total of 469 Palestinians and 199 Israelis were killed in 2001. Amnesty International's report on the first year of the Intifada states:
- "The overwhelming majority of cases of unlawful killings and injuries in Israel and the Occupied Territories have been committed by the IDF using excessive force. In particular, the IDF have used US-supplied helicopters in punitive rocket attacks where there was no imminent danger to life. Israel has also used helicopter gunships to carry out extrajudicial executions and to fire at targets that resulted in the killing of civilians, including children. ... Hamas and Islamic Jihad have frequently placed bombs in public places, usually within Israel, in order to kill and maim large numbers of Israeli civilians in a random manner. Both organizations have fostered a cult of martyrdom and frequently use suicide bombers."
Palestinian terrorists committed a number of suicide attacks later in 2001, among them the Sbarro restaurant massacre with 15 civilian casualties (including 7 children), the Nahariya train station suicide bombing and the Pardes Hanna bus bombing, both with 3 civilian casualties, the Ben Yehuda Street bombing with 11 civilian deaths, many of them children, and the Haifa bus 16 suicide bombing with 15 civilian casualties.
In January 2002, the IDFShayetet 13 naval commandos captured the Karine A, a freighter carrying weapons from Iran towards Israel, believed to be intended for Palestinian militant use against Israel. It was discovered that top officials in the Palestinian Authority were involved in the smuggling, with the Israelis pointing the finger towards Yasser Arafat as also being involved.
Palestinians launched a spate of suicide bombings and attacks, aimed mostly at civilians, against Israel. On 3 March, a Palestinian sniper killed 10 Israeli soldiers and settlers and wounded 4 at a checkpoint near Ofra, using an M1 Carbine. He was later arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment. The rate of the attacks increased, and was at its highest in March 2002. In addition to numerous shooting and grenade attacks, that month saw 15 suicide bombings carried out in Israel, an average of one bombing every two days. The high rate of attacks caused widespread fear throughout Israel and serious disruption of daily life throughout the country. March 2002 became known in Israel as "Black March." The wave of suicide bombings culminated with the Passover massacre in Netanya on 27 March, in which 30 people were killed at the Park Hotel while celebrating Passover. In total, around 130 Israelis, mostly civilians, were killed in Palestinian attacks during March 2002.
On 12 March United Nations Security Council Resolution 1397 was passed, which reaffirmed a Two-state solution and laid the groundwork for a Road map for peace. Arab leaders, whose constituencies were exposed to detailed television coverage of the violence in the conflict, set out a comprehensive Arab Peace Initiative, which was outlined by Saudi Arabia on 28 March. Arafat endorsed the proposal, while Israel reacted coolly, virtually ignoring it.
On 29 March, Israel launched Operation Defensive Shield, which lasted until 3 May. The IDF made sweeping incursions throughout the West Bank, and into numerous Palestinian cities. Arafat was put under siege in his Ramallah compound. The UN estimated that 497 Palestinians were killed and 1,447 wounded by the Israeli response from 1 March to 7 May, although B'Tselem registered 240 killed. Most of the casualties were members of Palestinian security forces and militant groups. Israeli forces also arrested 4,258 Palestinians during the operation. Israeli casualties during the operation totaled 30 dead and 127 wounded. The operation culminated with the recapturing of Palestinian Authority controlled areas.
Main article: Battle of Jenin
Between 2 and 11 April, a siege and fierce fighting took place in Jenin, a Palestinian refugee camp. The camp was targeted during Operation Defensive Shield after Israel determined that it had "served as a launch site for numerous terrorist attacks against both Israeli civilians and Israeli towns and villages in the area." The Jenin battle became a flashpoint for both sides. Eventually, The battle was won by the IDF, after it operated a dozen of Caterpillar D9armored bulldozers who cleared Palestinian booby traps, detonated explosive charges, razed buildings and gun-posts and proved impervious to attacks by Palestinian militants.
During the IDF's operations in the camp, Palestinian sources alleged that a massacre of hundreds of people had taken place. A senior Palestinian Authority official alleged in mid-April that some 500 had been killed. During the fighting in Jenin, Israeli officials had also initially estimated hundreds of Palestinian deaths, but later said they expected the Palestinian toll to reach "45 to 55." In the ensuing controversy, Israel blocked the United Nations from conducting the first-hand inquiry unanimously sought by the Security Council, but the UN nonetheless felt able to dismiss claims of a massacre in its report, which said there had been approximately 52 deaths, criticising both sides for placing Palestinian civilians at risk. Based on their own investigations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch charged that some IDF personnel in Jenin had committed war crimes but also confirmed that no massacre had been committed by the IDF. Both human rights organizations called for official inquiries; the IDF disputed the charges.
After the battle, most sources, including the IDF and Palestinian Authority, placed the Palestinian death toll at 52–56; HRW said this total consisted of at least 27 militants and 22 civilians, while the IDF said that 48 militants and 5 civilians had been killed. According to Human Rights Watch, 140 buildings had been destroyed. The IDF reported that 23 Israeli soldiers had been killed and 75 wounded.
Main article: Siege of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem
From 2 April to 10 May, a stand-off developed at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. IDF soldiers surrounded the church while Palestinian civilians, militants, and priests were inside. During the siege, IDF snipers killed 8 militants inside the church and wounded more than 40 people. The stand-off was resolved by the deportation to Europe of 13 Palestinian militants whom the IDF had identified as terrorists, and the IDF ended its 38-day stand-off with the militants inside the church.
Following an Israeli intelligence report stating that Yasir Arafat had paid $20,000 to al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, the United States demanded democratic reforms in the Palestinian Authority, as well the appointment of a prime minister independent of Arafat. On 13 March 2003, following U.S. pressure, Arafat appointed Mahmoud Abbas as Palestinian prime minister.
Following the appointment of Abbas, the U.S. administration promoted the Road map for peace—the Quartet's plan to end the Israeli–Palestinian conflict by disbanding militant organizations, halting settlement activity and establishing a democratic and peaceful Palestinian state. The first phase of the plan demanded that the Palestinian Authority suppress guerrilla and terrorist attacks and confiscate illegal weapons. Unable or unwilling to confront militant organizations and risk civil war, Abbas tried to reach a temporary cease-fire agreement with the militant factions and asked them to halt attacks on Israeli civilians.
On 20 May, Israeli naval commandos intercepted another vessel, the Abu Hassan, on course to the Gaza Strip from Lebanon. It was loaded with rockets, weapons, and ammunition. Eight crew members on board were arrested including a senior Hezbollah member.
On 29 June 2003, a temporary armistice was unilaterally declared by Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which declared a ceasefire and halt to all attacks against Israel for a period of three months. Violence decreased somewhat in the following month but suicide bombings against Israeli civilians continued as well as Israeli operations against militants.
Four Palestinians, three of them militants, were killed in gun battles during an IDF raid of Askar near Nablus involving tanks and armoured personnel carriers (APCs); an Israeli soldier was killed by one of the militants. Nearby Palestinians claimed a squad of Israeli police disguised as Palestinian labourers opened fire on Abbedullah Qawasameh as he left a Hebron mosque.YAMAM, the Israeli counter-terrorism police unit that performed the operation stated that Qawasemah opened fire on them as they attempted to arrest him.
On 19 August, Hamas coordinated a suicide attack on a crowded bus in Jerusalem killing 23 Israeli civilians, including 7 children. Hamas claimed it was a retaliation for the killing of five Palestinians (including Hamas leader Abbedullah Qawasameh) earlier in the week. U.S. and Israeli media outlets frequently referred to the bus bombing as shattering the quiet and bringing an end to the ceasefire.
Following the Hamas bus attack, Israeli Defence Forces were ordered to kill or capture all Hamas leaders in Hebron and the Gaza Strip. The plotters of the bus suicide bombing were all captured or killed and Hamas leadership in Hebron was badly damaged by the IDF. Strict curfews were enforced in Nablus, Jenin, and Tulkarem; the Nablus lockdown lasted for over 100 days. In Nazlet 'Issa, over 60 shops were destroyed by Israeli civil administration bulldozers. The Israeli civil administration explained that the shops were demolished because they were built without a permit. Palestinians consider Israeli military curfews and property destruction to constitute collective punishment against innocent Palestinians.
Unable to rule effectively under Arafat, Abbas resigned in September 2003. Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) was appointed to replace him. The Israeli government gave up hope for negotiated settlement to the conflict and pursued a unilateral policy of physically separating Israel from Palestinian communities by beginning construction on the Israeli West Bank barrier. Israel claims the barrier is necessary to prevent Palestinian attackers from entering Israeli cities. Palestinians claim the barrier separates Palestinian communities from each other and that the construction plan is a de facto annexation of Palestinian territory.
Following an 4 October suicide bombing in Maxim restaurant, Haifa, which claimed the lives of 21 Israelis, Israel claimed that Syria and Iran sponsored the Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah, and were responsible for the terrorist attack. The day after the Maxim massacre, IAF warplanes bombed an alleged former Palestinian training base at Ain Saheb, Syria, which had been mostly abandoned since the 1980s. Munitions being stored on the site were destroyed, and a civilian guard was injured.
In response to a repeated shelling of Israeli communities with Qassam rockets and mortar shells from Gaza, the IDF operated mainly in Rafah – to search and destroy smuggling tunnels used by militants to obtain weapons, ammunition, fugitives, cigarettes, car parts, electrical goods, foreign currency, gold, drugs, and cloth from Egypt. Between September 2000 and May 2004, ninety tunnels connecting Egypt and the Gaza Strip were found and destroyed. Raids in Rafah left many families homeless. Israel's official stance is that their houses were captured by militants and were destroyed during battles with IDF forces. Many of these houses are abandoned due to Israeli incursions and later destroyed. According to Human Rights Watch, over 1,500 houses were destroyed to create a large buffer zone in the city, many "in the absence of military necessity", displacing around sixteen thousand people.
On 2 February 2004, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced his plan to transfer all the Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip. The Israeli opposition dismissed his announcement as "media spin" but the Israeli Labour Party said it would support such a move. Sharon's right-wing coalition partners National Religious Party and National Union rejected the plan and vowed to quit the government if it were implemented. Yossi Beilin, peace advocate and architect of the Oslo Accords and the Geneva Accord, also rejected the proposed withdrawal plan. He claimed that withdrawing from the Gaza Strip without a peace agreement would reward terror.
Following the declaration of the disengagement plan by Ariel Sharon and as a response to suicide attacks on Erez crossing and Ashdod seaport (10 people were killed), the IDF launched a series of armored raids on the Gaza Strip (mainly Rafah and refugee camps around Gaza), killing about 70 Hamas militants. On 22 March 2004, an Israeli helicopter gunship killed Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, along with his two bodyguards and nine bystanders, and on 17 April, after several failed attempts by Hamas to commit suicide bombings and a successful one that killed an Israeli policeman, Yassin's successor, Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi was killed in an almost identical way, along with a bodyguard and his son Mohammed.
The fighting in Gaza Strip escalated severely in May 2004 after several failed attempts to attack Israeli checkpoints such as Erez crossing and Karni crossing. On 2 May, Palestinian militants attacked and shot dead a pregnant woman and her four young daughters.Amnesty International classified it as a crime against humanity and stated that it "reiterates its call on all Palestinian armed groups to put an immediate end to the deliberate targeting of Israeli civilians, in Israel and in the Occupied Territories". Additionally, on 11 and 12 May, Palestinian militants destroyed two IDF M-113APCs, killing 13 soldiers and mutilating their bodies. The IDF launched two raids to recover the bodies in which about 20–40 Palestinians were killed and great damage was caused to structures in the Zaitoun neighbourhood in Gaza and in south-west Rafah.
Subsequently, on 18 May the IDF launched Operation Rainbow with a stated aim of striking the militant infrastructure of Rafah, destroying smuggling tunnels, and stopping a shipment of SA-7 missiles and improved anti-tank weapons. A total of 41 Palestinian militants and 12 civilians were killed in the operation, and about 45–56 Palestinian structures were demolished. Israeli tanks shelled hundreds of Palestinian protesters approaching their positions, killing 10. The protesters had disregarded Israeli warnings to turn back. This incident led to a worldwide outcry against the operation.
On 29 September, after a Qassam rocket hit the Israeli town of Sderot and killed two Israeli children, the IDF launched Operation Days of Penitence in the north of the Gaza Strip. The operation's stated aim was to remove the threat of Qassam rockets from Sderot and kill the Hamas militants launching them. The operation ended on 16 October, leaving widespread destruction and more than 100 Palestinians dead, at least 20 of whom were under the age of 16. Thirteen-year-old Iman Darweesh Al Hams was killed by the IDF when she strayed into a closed military area: the commander was accused of allegedly firing his automatic weapon at her dead body deliberately to verify the death. The act was investigated by the IDF, but the commander was cleared of all wrongdoing, and more recently, was fully vindicated when a Jerusalem district court found the claim to be libellous, ruled that NIS 300,000 be paid by the journalist and TV company responsible for the report, an additional NIS 80,000 to be paid in legal fees and required the journalist and television company to air a correction. According to Palestinian medics, Israeli forces killed at least 62 militants and 42 other Palestinians believed to be civilians. According to a count performed by Haaretz, 87 militants and 42 civilians were killed. Palestinian refugee camps were heavily damaged by the Israeli assault. The IDF announced that at least 12 Qassam launchings had been thwarted and many terrorists hit during the operation.
On 21 October, the Israeli Air Force killed Adnan al-Ghoul, a senior Hamas bomb maker and the inventor of the Qassam rocket.
On 11 November, Yasser Arafat died in Paris.
Escalation in Gaza began amid the visit of Mahmoud Abbas to Syria in order to achieve a Hudna between Palestinian factions and convince Hamas leadership to halt attacks against Israelis. Hamas vowed to continue the armed struggle sending numerous Qassam rockets into open fields near Nahal Oz, and hitting a kindergarten in Kfar Darom with an anti-tank missile.
On 9 December five Palestinians weapon smugglers were killed and two were arrested in the border between Rafah and Egypt. Later that day, Jamal Abu Samhadana and two of his bodyguards were injured by a missile strike. In the first Israeli airstrike against militants in weeks, an unmanned Israeli drone plane launched one missile at Abu Samahdna's car as it travelled between Rafah and Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. It was the fourth attempt on Samhadana's life by Israel. Samhadana is one of two leaders of the Popular Resistance Committees and one of the main forces behind the smuggling tunnels. Samhadana is believed to be responsible for the blast against an American diplomatic convoy in Gaza that killed three Americans.
On 10 December, in response to Hamas firing mortar rounds into the Neveh Dekalim settlement in the Gaza Strip and wounding four Israelis (including an 8-year-old boy), Israeli soldiers fired at the Khan Younis refugee camp (the origin of the mortars) killing a 7-year-old girl. An IDF source confirmed troops opened fire at Khan Younis, but said they aimed at Hamas mortar crews.
The largest attack since the death of Yasser Arafat claimed the lives of five Israeli soldiers on 12 December, wounding ten others. Approximately 1.5 tons of explosives were detonated in a tunnel under an Israeli military-controlled border crossing on the Egyptian border with Gaza near Rafah, collapsing several structures and damaging others. The explosion destroyed part of the outpost and killed three soldiers. Two Palestinian militants then penetrated the outpost and killed two other Israeli soldiers with gunfire. It is believed that Hamas and a new Fatah faction, the "Fatah Hawks", conducted the highly organised and coordinated attack. A spokesman, "Abu Majad", claimed responsibility for the attack in the name of the Fatah Hawks claiming it was in retaliation for "the assassination" of Yasser Arafat, charging he was poisoned by Israel.
Palestinian presidential elections were held on 9 January, and Mahmoud Abbas
I’ve had so many people ask me for so long to share my Sports Photography workflow, but honestly I’ve been so incredibly unhappy with my workflow, that I wouldn’t curse it on anyone. Of all the photographers in the photo work room, I was usually literally the last man to be able to leave at the end of the game (after uploading images to the wire service).
Luckily, it’s now finally (finally!) starting to come together to the point that I thought I’d at least share it, but I want to give you this important disclaimer up front: this workflow is a work in progress. It’s not “fully there” yet, but I was the third photographer to go home this week, and I’ve literally cut my processing/tagging time in half, but again — it’s far from perfect. My sincere hope is:
(a) This will help someone who was struggling along, like me,…
(b) Someone who really has their sports workflow down to a science will show me how to improve what I’m doing, which is very likely since I know mine isn’t fully baked yet.
So, with that said, here what I’m doing now:
Working on Assignment:
I’m shooting for a sports wire service, and the faster you get your images uploaded to them, the better (so they can get them out to potential news outlets for distribution). At hafltime, (actually, usually a minute or two of gametime beforehand) I head into the photo work room, download two memory cards; quickly pick six to eight good sharp images, add all the required metadata (there’s plenty), tweak the photos a bit (sharpen, contrast) and upload them live from the stadium and get back out before the third quarter starts. That has never actually happened. Halftime is only 15 minutes, and I’ve never finished the process in just 15 minutes, so I usually miss some of the start of the third quarter. Sometimes as much as half of the third quarter. Hey, it happens.
Speed is the main issue
I learned the hard way — you need very fast memory cards (I use Lexar 1000X cards), and a fast Lexar USB 3 card reader to get my images on to my computer as quickly as possible. I actually use two card readers so both cards can be downloading at once.
I don’t use Lightroom. Or the Bridge. Ever.
I’ve tried both. It’s a death-trap for pro sports photography. Every pro sports shooter at an NFL game (or otherwise) uses a program called Photo Mechanic (by a company called Camera Bits). If there are 40 photographers in the photo work room, you see 40 copies of Photo Mechanic open on their laptops.
It was created for photo journalists and it has some features that you absolutely positively need for this type of work. They are:
(1) Absolutely insanely fast drawing of full screen previews.
As soon as the thumbnails appear (which is really quick), you can instantly view the images at full-screen size. I’m talking lightning fast. I’m talking so fast that you had no idea any program could possibly load full-screen images at this speed, but somehow it just does. I know what you’re thinking: “Does Adobe know about this technology?” Absolutely. “Have you talked to them about adding this to Lightroom?” Many times. “Do you think we’ll ever have fast-loading thumbnails like that?” Nope.
(2) A very well-thought out and designed system for adding metadata to your images
Every photo you submit needs a full description of what’s happening in the photo, where the photo was taken and when, including each player fully identified by team name, player name, position on the team, and jersey number. You need this for every player in the shot. Three players, three full IDs.
(3) An automated process, using keyboard shortcuts, that lets you do all the stuff you have to do in #2 above really, really fast (with the help of a website I’ll mention in a moment).
Plus, you can FTP right from the program straight to the server of your local wire service.
So, step one is Buy Photo Mechanic
The program costs $150, and once I saw it in action, it was the fastest $150 I ever spent. Worth every penny. I’d have paid $250. Maybe more. But Photo Mechanic is just an image sorting and metadata application, albeit a great one, but it’s not Photoshop and doesn’t do Photoshop-like stuff, so you still need Photoshop.
But before you start importing photos, you need to set up a Metadata template (they call it an “IPTC Stationary Pad”) like the one you see above. This includes a bit about the game and where it’s being played and such. (I do this before I even leave for the stadium).
Then, when I walk in from the first half, I open this Stationary Pad, add the score as it stands “The Bucs lead the Saints 21-14 at the half” to the end, and now when I import my photos, it automatically applies this metadata, including the date, stadium location, copyright info and such to every photo.
The greatest thing to happen to Metadata since….whenever the last good thing happened
There is a website called “CodeReplacements.com” and you pay a small subscription fee and it generates a current roster of both teams for any pro sporting event, which itself is handy, but that’s not what makes it totally rock. You import this roster into Photo Mechanic (it’s then called a “Code Replacement”) and now all you have to do is look at the number on the player’s jersey, type a shortcut and that number, and it automatically fills in all the team info, player’s name, position, and number. For example, if the player plays for Tampa Bay, I just type a backslash, “t” for Tampa Bay, his jersey number, and another backslash, and it instantly types in this for me:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers free safety Ronde Barber (20)
Then I type in “breaks up a screen pass intended for” and I type the other guy’s jersey number like this \n16\ and it writes
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Lance Moore (16)
and then the rest of the metadata about what week it is, and what kind of game it is and where it’s played is already there because I added that to the IPTC Stationary Pad before the game (mentioned above). So, the whole thing reads like this is all of 20-seconds:
“Tampa Bay Buccaneers free safety Ronde Barber (20) breaks up a screen pass intended for New Orleans Saints wide receiver Lance Moore during week seven of the 2012 NFL season in a game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New Orleans Saints. The Bucs lead the Saints 21-14 at the half.”
Those code replacements rock, and my hats off the guy who came up with the service. May he earn a millions bucks!
Now, you’re ready to download your cards when you come in off the field at halftime
Photo Mechanic calls this process “Ingesting” and it’s pretty quick (and you can ingest multiple cards at once, and I do). It automatically names and numbers them, similar to what you’d do in Lightroom’s Import Window (ya know, if you had all freakin’ day to import your images — don’t get me started).
Once they’re in Photo Mechanic, you can either scan your thumbnails really quickly looking for key shots, or just go to full-screen size and zip through them lickity split using the right-arrow key on your keyboard. When you see a photo you might want to upload, you press the letter “T” to “Tag” it. When you’ve gone thru all your photos, you turn on a filter that only shows your Tagged images, which is seen above (I usually have about 10 to 15 tagged images at this point. Occasionally more, but I’m only going to have to time to process six or eight at best, so I have to whittle it down to the best six or eight of those).
Here’s where my first hurdle comes in
At this point, I look at the, say…15 tagged images at full screen size and when I see one I want to make my cut of just six or eight for uploading, I press the number 6 to label it with a blue label. In just a few seconds, I have six or blue-labeled shots. I select those images (we’ll say I chose six) and jump into the Metadata editing window, where I add the player info using those automated Code Replacements. This is a little tedious, especially if you can’t clearly read a player’s number of their jersey or helmet. Then you have to go back to your full shoot and figure it out by looking at shots before or after the one you want to upload. This kind of drives me nuts, but you’ve got to have the right number or the player’s name will be wrong.
Metadata Done Right
Camera Bits did a kick-butt job on this part, as you can click on the thumbnail in the metadata entry window and see a huge-preview (helpful in reading jersey numbers), and you can copy and paste metadata from one similar image to another (big time-saver), and you can use code replacements for everything the ref’s to special codes that have to be added on a per-player basis (in another field, I have to enter a bracket, the player’s last name, first name, and a closed bracket (like this: [Barber, Ronde]) for each player, but there’s a Code Replacement shortcut that does that, too (thankfully —- another big time-saver in an already tedious process). This whole part is very well designed on Photo Mechanic’s part.
Now over to Adobe Camera Raw
Once I click OK after adding all the metadata to those six photos, I press Command-E and open those six all up in a Camera Raw at once (they appear in a filmstrip along the left side of Camera Raw, as seen above). Now I take a quick moment to crop each photo tight (if necessary, and it often is), then I check the White Balance, add Contrast if necessary and any other very minor tweaks (This is reportage so you can do very little editing whatsoever to these images)
Sharpening and Saving as JPEGs
This is another place I’m not certain I’m totally nailing this workflow thing, but I then export the images out of Camera Raw as JPEGs and have Camera Raw apply sharpening (set to “For Screen” and amount “High” in Camera Raw’s Output Preferences) as they’re exported. This leaves them with a folder with six images in it, with all the metadata embedded, cropped, edited and sharpened ready for uploading, which takes all of 30-seconds (if that). I know some guys are running sharpening and resizing actions that do all that stuff in Photoshop, but I actually don’t go into Photoshop at all — just Camera Raw and save out to JPEGs with the sharpening applied at export, but again, I’m not sure that’s the best time-saving route (but that’s what I’m doing thus far).
The problem is: that takes longer than 15 minutes.
I think I probably spent too much time looking through my images trying to find the best ones to upload, and I may be over-thinking that part, but I haven’t found a way to speed the process. I have a hard time searching through tiny thumbnails — I like to see them big, and that definitely impacts my speed —- not because of Photo Mechanic — just because if you can judge by thumbnails you can breeze through hundreds really fast. I’ve tried it, and I feel like I miss too much that way, but maybe again I’m over-thinking it.
After the game, I do it all again…
But now I’m looking for 20 or so images to upload, and I’ve got the process down to about 45 minutes, but I’d like to see it down to 30 minutes, and if you see an area here where I’m doing double-the-work, or I’m making extra work for myself (I’m not an expert at Photo Mechanic) let me know because my goal is to cut time off this workflow, and anything that save time is a big win for me.
(1) Set-up IPTC Stationary Pad, and download CodeReplacments.com file at home before game
(2) Import two cards at once (one from each camera); Apply Stationary Pad on import and rename
(3) Quickly go through images and Tag 10 to 15 of the best ones
(4) Narrow that down to just six or eight (label those blue)
(5) Add detailed Metadata for those six or eight keepers
(6) Open all those images at once in Camera Raw for cropping & editing
(7) Export those as JPEGs with Sharpening Applied on Export
(8) Upload those to the wire service
So, there you have it
As you can tell from my comments, I’m not fully satisfied with this workflow, but at least it’s at the point that I feel like I can share it and hopefully some part of it will help you with your workflow. Just for the record: I’ve tried using Lightroom, and/or the Bridge and Camera Raw combo, but neither can come close to the Photo Mechanic workflow (ask any pro sports photographer), but I think if I have an achilles heel in my workflow, it’s what happens after I leave Photo Mechanic.
Hope that all makes sense, and I hope it helps. I’ll be in Washington DC this weekend for my seminar there next week, so I don’t think I’ll be shooting any games this weekend (rats!), but just know I do, when I pick up a timesaver, I’ll be sure to share it with you guys here. Cheers, -Scott