In December 1987, Arabs in Palestinian territories occupied by Israel conducted a violent revolt. The uprising was known as the First Intifada. Israel was founded in 1948 in what was then Palestine. The new state was established to give a homeland to the Jewish people, who had been dispersed throughout the world for centuries and suffered frequent persecutions. About a million Palestinian Arabs lived in Palestine in 1948. Immediately after Israel declared statehood, war broke out with surrounding Arab states. Many Palestinians took refuge in these neighboring states during the war. In 1967, after the Six-Day War, [1967] Israel annexed neighboring territories inhabited by Arab Palestinians including the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Israeli settlers willing to make their homes in Gaza and the West Bank received substantial funding from the Israeli state. The Arabs lived in what the UN would deem “occupied territories,” living precariously with no political rights. In 1964, the Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO] was founded. Led by Yasser Arafat, from 1969 onwards the PLO fought for Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories, for the recognition of a Palestinian state and for the destruction of Israel. The PLO also organized terrorist acts, including a number of airplane hijackings, and the kidnapping and murder of Israeli athletes during the 1972 Munich Olympics.

The uprising in the occupied territories began December 9, 1987 after an Israeli army vehicle killed four Palestinian workers in a car crash. Israel responded to the widespread protests in Gaza and the West Bank with force, injuring many of the protesters. Initially, the Palestinians’ rebellion was spontaneous, but it soon began to be directed by the PLO. Young people threw stones at tanks and soldiers; adults organized strikes, demonstrations and boycotted Israeli products. The First Intifada lasted five years.
It raised worldwide awareness of the Palestinian problem, but this new awareness came at a high price: more than 1,000 Palestinians and around 200 Israelis were killed. The First Intifada ended in 1993 with the Oslo Accords. The treaties provided for the withdrawal of Israelis from Gaza and the West Bank, the Palestinian right to self-govern these two areas and the Israeli government’s recognition of the PLO as a legitimate political organ. The PLO in turn acknowledged Israel’s right to exist, and agreed to renounce terrorism and its aim of destroying the Jewish State. However, the peace process between the two populations has encountered many obstacles. Further tensions led to the outbreak of the Second Intifada in 2000.
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