In contrast with the Second Intifada, which Israeli politician Ariel Sharon deliberately provoked when he and 1000 Israeli police officers marched on to the Haram al-Sharif in September 2000, the First Intifada (the Arabic word means “popular uprising”) began almost by chance. On December 8, 1987, an Israeli Defense Forces truck crashed into a line of cars stuck at the Erez checkpoint between Israel and Gaza, killing four Palestinians. This was probably an accident, notwithstanding a pervasive Palestinian belief that it had been an intentional IDF attack. A demonstration that broke out at the funerals that evening turned into mass Palestine Liberation Organization-led protests throughout Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem the next day, and that turned into nearly four years of violence. Over 2200 people lost their lives, more than 2000 of them Palestinians.
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