battle for the holy land
homeon the groundcycle of violencecan anything end this?discussion
photos of israeli tanks entering bethlehem, palestinian firing an m16, and another israeli tank

the cycle of violence
A timeline of key events in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from September 2000 through March 2002. While not a record of every incident, it highlights the escalation of violence by both sides.


2000

Collapse of Peace Talks

In July 2000, seven years after the signing of the Oslo accords that initiated the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, President Bill Clinton hosts Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak for peace talks at the presidential retreat at Camp David. In signing the Oslo accords the two sides recognized each other's right to exist and agreed to negotiate a peace process, but they left negotiations on tougher issues for final status talks. At the Camp David talks, the two sides broach issues including Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the right of return for Palestinian refugees, and sovereignty over Jerusalem. Barak proposes that Israel will withdraw from 95 percent of the West Bank, allow some Palestinian refugees to return, and force the evacuation of 40,000 Jewish settlers. Arafat rebuffs the proposal, in part because he believes that the Palestinians should accept no less than 100 percent of the West Bank and Gaza.

Palestinian Actions/ResponseIsraeli Actions/Response

September 28-29
Riots spark "second intifada"

Israeli Arabs demonstrate in East Jerusalem in protest of Sharon's visit to the Al Aqsa mosque compound. The demonstrations turn into violent riots, sparking what has become known to Palestinians as the "second intifada" or the "Al Aqsa intifada." (The first Palestinian intifada, or "uprising," took place from approximately 1987 to 1992.) In the following days, street-fighting and riots spread to the occupied territories in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

September 28
Sharon visits Al Aqsa mosque compound

The head of the right-wing Likud Party (and current prime minister) Ariel Sharon visits the Al Aqsa mosque compound, Islam's third holiest site, located in Old Jerusalem. The rocky structure upon which the mosque is situated is considered holy by both Jews and Muslims.

October 2
Israel responds to riots with military action

In an attempt to quell the riots, Israel deploys tanks and gunship helicopters at the sites of violent flashpoints in the Palestinian territories.

October 6
Day of Rage

Palestinian leaders declare a "day of rage," with thousands protesting in the occupied territories and the Old City of Jerusalem. After Friday prayers at the Al Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, a few rock-throwing Palestinian youths hoist a Palestinian flag on the compound; hundreds more hurl rocks at Israeli police near the Western Wall in Jerusalem and later storm an Israeli police station, setting it afire. In the West Bank and Gaza, thousands of Palestinians protest, and several gun battles break out between Israeli troops and Palestinian militias.

October 6
Israel responds with troops

In Jerusalem, armed troops use tear gas and rubber bullets to subdue the rioters and tear down the Palestinian flag they had placed on the holy site. By the end of the day, 10 Palestinians are dead. Hundreds more Israelis and Palestinians are injured.

October 12
Israeli soldiers killed

Palestinian mobs beat two Israeli reserve soldiers to death in Ramallah.

October 12
Retaliatory air raids

In response to the deaths of the soldiers in Ramallah, Israel fires missiles from attack helicopters at targets including Palestinian police and security stations in the West Bank and Gaza. No Palestinians are killed, but at least 43 are reported injured.

October 16-17
Sharm el-Sheik peace summit

In the first international effort to halt the violence, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, U.S. President Bill Clinton, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Jordan's King Abdullah II, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, and E.U. foreign policy chief Javier Solana attend a peace summit in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt. At the conclusion of the summit, Clinton announces that Barak and Arafat have reached a cease-fire agreement. However, the violence on the ground continues. An international fact finding commission-- led by former U.S. senator George Mitchell-- is formed to investigate the cause of the clashes.

Palestinian Actions/ResponseIsraeli Actions/Response

November 2
Car Bomb

Two Israelis are killed by a car bomb in an open market in Jerusalem.

November 9
Targeted gunship shooting

Fatah militia leader Hussein Suyef Abeyat is killed when his vehicle is blown apart by a missile fired from an Israeli gunship near the West Bank village of Beit Sahur. Two bystanders are also killed.

November 20
Attack on school bus

A mortar attack on an Israeli school bus kills two and wounds dozens.

November 20
Israeli Response

Israel bombards Palestinian security targets in Gaza.

November 22
Car Bomb

A car bomb kills two Israelis and wounds dozens during rush hour in the coastal city of Hadera, Israel.

November 22
Fatah members killed

Israeli troops shoot dead four individuals associated with Fatah.

December 10-14
More militants killed

Israel hit squads kill at least four militant Palestinian leaders.

December 19-23
Peace talks in Washington

At separate Israeli-Palestinian talks at an air force base near Washington, D.C., U.S. President Bill Clinton proposes a peace plan that includes conditional Palestinian sovereignty over the holy sites in Jerusalem as well as 95 percent of the West Bank. Both sides have reservations about the plan. On December 28, a second summit between Mubarak, Arafat and Barak is cancelled.

2001

January 21-27
Taba Peace Talks

In Taba, Egypt, marathon talks are held in the hope of achieving a peace accord. They are also unsuccessful.

Palestinian Actions/ResponseIsraeli Actions/Response

March 4
Suicide bomb

A suicide bomber kills three people and himself in a rush hour explosion in Netanya. Hamas claims responsibility.

March 7
Sharon takes office

Hard-line Likud leader Ariel Sharon becomes prime minister.

March 8
Arafat moves to resume peace talks

Arafat sends a letter to new Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, asking to restart peace talks.

March 12
Blockades in West Bank stepped up

As part of Sharon's strategy to isolate violent areas of the occupied territories, the Israeli army imposes a total blockade on the West Bank city of Ramallah, surrounding the city with tanks and imposing road blocks between the city and neighboring areas.

March 27-28
Three bombs in 24 hours

Four Israelis are killed and dozens injured in three bomb blasts, two in Jerusalem and one in the West Bank.

Also, a Palestinian gunman shoots dead a 10-month-old Israeli girl.

March 28
Air raids

Israel begins helicopter gunship raids on Gaza and the West Bank. At least two are killed and dozens wounded in strikes aimed at Force 17 bases in Gaza and Ramallah. Arafat's home is also hit.

April 2-5
Islamic Jihad members killed

On April 2, Mohammed Abdel Al, a military activist in Islamic Jihad, is killed when Israeli helicopters fire rockets on his car in Gaza. Three days later, Iyyad Hardan, the military leader of Islamic Jihad in Jenin, is blown up while standing in a public telephone booth.

April 22
Suicide bomb

Two were killed and some 40 wounded by a suicide bomber at a bus stop in Kfar Saba, northeast of Tel Aviv.

May 4
Mitchell Commission report

The Mitchell Commission, convened in the aftermath of the failed Sharm el-Sheikh Peace Summit issued its report, recommending a six-week cooling-off period followed by "confidence-building measures," a freeze on developing Jewish settlements and, ultimately, a return to political negotiations.

Palestinian Actions/ResponseIsraeli Actions/Response

May 18
Suicide bomb

At least five Israelis are killed when a suicide bomber blows himself up at the entrance to a shopping center in Netanya. The attack is claimed by Hamas.

May 18-19
F-16 strikes

In response to the Netanya bombing, Israel strikes a police station in Nablus with missiles from U.S.-supplied F-16 jets, killing eleven Palestinian police officers. It is the first use of the warplanes since the Six Day War in 1967.

The next day, helicopter gunships fire missiles at Palestinian security positions in the West Bank towns of Jenin and Tulkarem, injuring at least 30 people.

June 1
Suicide bomb

Twenty Israelis are killed and scores more injured outside a beach front Tel Aviv nightclub in a suicide bombing claimed by Hamas. The next day, Arafat promises a cease-fire.

June 1
No Military Action

Despite right-wing criticism, Sharon decides against military reprisals for the Tel Aviv bombing, in an attempt to stick to the truce announced by Arafat.

June 13
Tenet brokers cease-fire

A cease-fire plan is brokered by the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, George Tenet, Israeli and Palestinian authorities, but fails to take hold on the ground.

Palestinian Actions/ResponseIsraeli Actions/Response

July 16
Suicide bomb

Two Israelis are killed in a suicide bombing in the northern Israeli town of Binyamina. Islamic Jihad claims responsibility.

July 31
Israeli helicopters shoot at Hamas office

Two leading Hamas officials in the West Bank and four other activists are killed, along with two children, when Israeli helicopters fire on the Hamas office in Nablus.

August 9
Suicide bomb

At least 15 people are killed and more than 100 injured in a suicide bomb attack claimed by Hamas on a pizzeria in central west Jerusalem.

August 9
PA office seized; More F-16s

In retaliation for the Jerusalem bombing, Israel seizes and shuts down the East Jerusalem office of the Palestinian Authority, and F-16s flatten a Palestinian police station in Ramallah.

August 14
Tanks enter Jenin

Israel sends tanks into the West Bank city of Jenin, leveling the police station there.

August 15-22
Targeted killings continue

Israeli troops kill a Palestinian militia leader, Emad Abu Sneineh. The next week, Palestinian militant Bilal al-Ghul is killed by a rocket strike on his car.

August 25
Three Israeli soldiers killed

Three Israeli soldiers are killed when guerrilla soldiers breach security at a Gaza Strip Israeli army post. The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine claims responsibility.

August 26
Air Strikes

Israeli F-16s and F-17s destroy security installations in Gaza and the West Bank.

August 27
PFLP leader assassinated

Israeli troops kill the secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine by firing missiles through the window of his office in a suburb of Ramallah.

September 9
Two suicide bombs

Three people are killed and more than 30 wounded when a suicide bomber blows himself up at a train station at Nahariya in northern Israel. Another suicide bomber attacks an intersection at Beit Lid killing himself and wounding three people.

September 12&16
More incursions into the West Bank

On Sept. 12, the Israeli army sends tanks and bulldozers into Jericho and pushes again into Jenin. On Sept. 16, tanks enter Ramallah.

September 26
Agreement to work toward truce

Yasser Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres meet at Gaza International Airport and agree to work to build a lasting truce and resume security cooperation.

Palestinian Actions/ResponseIsraeli Actions/Response

October 2
Two Israelis shot dead

Palestinian gunmen infiltrate a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip and shoot dead two Israelis, wounding 15 others. Hamas claims responsibility.

October 3
Retaliatory attacks

Israel destroys seven Palestinian police posts near the Jewish settlement in Gaza that had been attacked the night before.

October 17
Israeli minister shot dead

Right-wing Israeli tourism minister Rehavam Zeevi is shot dead in a hotel in east Jerusalem. The PFLP claims responsibility.

October 18-20
Major military assault

In the most extensive military operation in the occupied territories at the time, Israel deploys forces into and around six Palestinian cities, including Bethlehem.

October 28
Gunmen kill four

Two Palestinian gunmen kill four women in the northern Israeli city of Hadera before police shoot them dead.

December 1-2
Suicide bombs kill 25

A suicide bomb in Jerusalem kills 10; the next day another in Haifa kills 15.

December 3
Air attacks

Helicopter gunships and jets hit Palestinian Authority targets near Arafat's headquarters in Gaza City, in retaliation for the killing of 25 people by suicide bombers over the preceding weekend.

December 12
Israelis gunned down

Ten Israelis are killed by Palestinian gunmen on a bus in the West Bank near a Jewish settlement close to Nablus.

December 13
Israel responds with gunships

In retaliation for the Dec. 12 bus attack, helicopter gunships fire at numerous Palestinian buildings in the West Bank and Gaza, including a Palestinian police station in Ramallah.

December 16
Arafat calls for end to violence

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat calls for an end to attacks on Israel in one of his strongest statements in 15 months of violence.

December 20
Hamas says it will stop attacks

The political wing of Hamas announces it will stop its suicide bombings and mortar attacks on the condition that Israel halt political assassinations and the killing of civilians. The next day, the armed wing of Hamas, the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, agrees to halt anti-Israeli attacks.

2002

January 5
Israel intercepts arms shipment

Israel intercepts a Palestinian freighter loaded with 50 tons of arms, including anti-tank missiles. Israel claims Iran supplied the arms to the Palestinian Authority. Arafat denies any connection to the weapons.

January 17
Al Aqsa gunman kills six civilians

In the first major attack on civilians in Israel since Arafat declared a cease-fire on Dec. 16, a Palestinian gunman from the Al Aqsa Brigades shoots dead six Israelis and injures at least 24 others at a bat mitzvah party in Hadera before being killed himself.

January 27
First woman suicide bomber

Wafa Idris becomes the first Palestinian woman suicide bomber when she blows herself up in busy shopping street in West Jerusalem. One Israeli is killed and dozens wounded. The attack is claimed by the Al-Aqsa Brigades.

February 10
Palestinian rocket attack

In an unprecedented attack, Palestinian fire homemade Qassam-2 rockets from the Gaza Strip into the Negev desert.

February 11-13
Air strikes; major incursion into Gaza

Calling the Feb. 10 rocket attack "a new level of threat," Israel bombs security compounds in Gaza City and launches an extensive military incursion into the Gaza Strip in a search for the manufacturing and launch sites of the rockets.

February 15
Palestinians blow up tank; kill elite Israeli commander

Palestinian mines blow up an Israeli tank, killing three of the crew. This marks the first time that one of the highly sophisticated Israeli tanks is destroyed or badly damaged. The same day, the head of a elite Israeli commando unit is killed.

February 15
F-16s strike Jabalya

In reprisal for the death of the commando and destruction of the tank, Israeli jets attack a Palestinian police compound at Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza.

February 19
Attack on army checkpoint

In one of the deadliest attacks on Israeli troops in the 17-month intifada, Palestinian gunmen storm an army checkpoint near Ramallah in a commando-style raid and kill six Israeli soldiers.

February 20
16 Killed

Israel launches an assault on Palestinian Authority buildings, including Arafat's Ramallah headquarters and the Palestinian Authority compound in Gaza City. Sixteen Palestinians are killed.

February 28-March 1
Invasion of Balata and Jenin refugee camps

Israeli troops invade two Palestinian refugee camps near the West Bank towns of Nablus and Jenin. Twelve Palestinians and one Israeli soldier are killed. Fighting continues through the next day, with more than 20 Palestinian casualties in total.

March 2-3
Suicide bomb; sniper attack

A suicide bomber blows himself up in an religious neighborhood of Jerusalem. Nine are killed and dozens injured. The Al Aqsa Brigades claim responsibility.

The next day, a lone Palestinian sniper attacks an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank, killing 10 Israelis. Al Aqsa Brigades again claims responsibility.

March 7-8
Further incursions into Palestinian territory

Israel continues advancing into Palestinian-controlled territory, killing several Palestinians as they storm refugee camps near Tulkarem in the northern West Bank in search of suspected militants. Later, Israeli helicopters fire rockets into Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza Strip. Forty Palestinians are killed.

March 9
Suicide bomb; shooting spree

A Palestinian suicide bomber blows himself up in a crowded Jerusalem cafe a short distance from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's residence, killing 11 and wounding some 50.

Hours earlier, Palestinian gunmen had gone on a shooting spree in the coastal town of Netanya, killing three and wounding dozens.

March 10
Suicide bomb

A suicide bomber in a Jerusalem cafe kills 11 and wounds more than 50.

March 11
Massive military assault

In the largest military offensive since the invasion of Lebanon two decades earlier, Israeli tanks and troops storm refugee camps in Gaza and invade Ramallah, occupying the city. At least 30 Palestinians are killed, along with several Israelis.

March 14-15
Tanks pull out

Under pressure from the U.S., Israeli tanks begin pulling out of Ramallah. The next day, Israelis pulls troops out of all West Bank towns except for Bethlehem.

March 20
Suicide bomb

A suicide bomber killed seven Israelis in a bus in Umm el-Fahm in central Israel. Islamic Jihad claims responsibility.

March 21
Suicide bomb

A suicide bomber blows himself up in a Jerusalem shopping center, killing at least two Israelis and wounding dozens of others. The Al Aqsa Brigades claimed responsibility.

March 26-28
Arab League Summit

At a summit meeting in Beirut, Lebanon, delegates from many Arab states endorse a plan for peace in the region proposed by Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah. The plan calls for Arab nations to accept Israel as their neighbor if Israel withdraws from the all the occupied territories, accepts the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital, and allows for the return of Palestinian refugees.

Arafat is notably missing from the conference, having refused to attend out of fear that Israel would not allow him to return to the West Bank. Also missing were Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak, Jordan's King Abdullah II, and 10 other members of the Arab League.

Palestinian Actions/ResponseIsraeli Actions/Response

March 27
Suicide bomb

A suicide bomber blows himself up in the lobby of the Park Hotel in Netanya as guests gather to celebrate the first night of Passover. The blast kills at least 19 and wounds around 100 others. The radical Islamic group Hamas takes responsibility, and a spokesman from the group is quoted in Israeli media as saying that the attack was timed to undermine the Beirut meeting of the Arab League.

March 29
Suicide bomb

A female suicide bomber kills two people and herself and wounds at least 20 others when she sets off explosives in a West Jerusalem supermarket. The Al Aqsa Brigades claim responsibility.

March 29
Israel storms Arafat headquarters in Ramallah and moves into other West Bank towns

Israeli sends tanks and bulldozers to attack Arafat's Ramallah compound. As of April 4, 2002, Arafat remains isolated in the compound, having vowed that he would die as a martyr rather than surrender. The assault on Ramallah is the beginning of a crackdown on Palestinian territories in the West Bank. By April 4, Israeli tanks enter Hebron, Nablus, Jenin, Tulkarem, Qalqilya, Ramallah, and Bethlehem, as well as a number of Palestinian-controlled villages in the West Bank. Ariel Sharon says that the goal of the Israeli operation is to root out terrorists in the areas under control of the Palestinian Authority.

March 30
Suicide bomb

A suicide bomber blows himself up in a crowded café in Tel Aviv's entertainment district, killing himself and wounding dozens.

March 31
Suicide bomb

A suicide bomber sets off an explosion in a crowded restaurant in Haifa, killing at least 16 people and wounding dozens. Izzedine al-Qassam, the armed wing of the Hamas militant group, claims responsibility.

March 31
"Israel is at War"

Ariel Sharon says Israel is at war and calls Yasser Arafat "the enemy of Israel and the entire free world."

home - on the ground - cycle of violence - can anything end this? - combatants - introduction
discussion - video excerpts - producer chat - map
tapes & transcripts - press - credits - privacy policy
FRONTLINE - wgbh - pbs

web site copyright 1995-2014 WGBH educational foundation

SUPPORT PROVIDED BY

RECENT STORIES

FRONTLINE on

ShopPBS