A decade after traveling to Israel to cover the first intifada (uprising), ABCNEWS State Department correspondent Martha Raddatz returned to the area to see how attitudes have changed about peace and coexistence. The following stories highlight the evolution several individuals have undergone over the last decade:
Twelve years ago few imagined it would ever get this bad. The Palestinians threw mostly stones in 1988, facing tear gas, rubber bullets and sometimes live ammunition to protest Israeli occupation. By the end of the five-year uprising more than 1,000 Palestinian lives were lost and more than 100 Israelis.
But this time, the violence is so much worse. The Palestinians use not only rocks, but also guns. The Israelis use not just guns, but tanks and helicopter gunships. In a period of just two months, more than 250 Palestinians and close to two dozen Israelis have been killed.
A Wedding In 1988, during a brief pause in the fighting there was a wedding in the West Bank village of Beit Sahour, which residents saw as a key to Palestinian survival.
Rana Izhaq, a guest at Munear and Eva Mesleh’s wedding, explained, “People have to go on marrying and bringing children, because this is the only way we Arabs, Palestinians, will stay in this country.”
And today, 12 years later, Nadine, Samer and Dina Mesleh have brought joy and hope to their parents and community. But looking back on scenes from that wedding, Izhaq said the memories are both good and bad. “The pride and the excitement, the power and the energy that Palestinians had at that time, they felt they could make changes.” And today she remarked. “It’s very sad to see the loss, but when you see the faces on TV of children, of young people just throwing themselves in the battle, you understand that their dreams have not been met and what they have hoped for hasn’t been achieved. And it is the only way they know how to do it.”
On the day of the Mesleh’s 1988 wedding, the villagers staged a street demonstration chanting: “With blood, with spirit, we’ll sacrifice for you our martyrs.” An hour later, things turned violent with women, young men and many children joining in just as they did across the territories during that first intifada.
That uprising and the 1993 Oslo Peace accords that followed, did result in some positive changes for the Palestinians: They gained full autonomy in the larger towns in the West Bank and Gaza Strip ending the occupation in those areas. But after seven years of relative calm, the fighting has turned more deadly than ever. And a cycle of anger continues from one generation to the next. “We must continue this struggle we’re fighting for our rights,” said Eva. “Just like these guys who were going out in ’88 fighting and they weren’t afraid.” Her husband added, “It’s not wrong to hate the Jews since they stole our rights.”
A Soldier Twelve years ago Yochai Ben Haim was a young army captain patrolling what was then the occupied West Bank, it was his first experience with Palestinian rage. “You can see in their eyes a lot of hatred,” said Ben Haim. “You can see sometimes a little child of 2 years old, 3 years old who is staring at you with hatred and waving his hand with the victory signal.”