Beyond Images Challenging Myths and Presenting Facts About Israel
Leading Palestinians call for a “peaceful intifada”

London - published on 31 March 2004
Beyond Images Ref: 85

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Responding to the killing of Sheikh Yassin

On 22 March 2004, Israel killed the founder of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, in a targeted missile strike in Gaza City.

While leaders of Hamas threatened massive attacks against Israeli civilians, there was a second, and little-reported, Palestinian response: a public appeal for the Palestinians to embrace non-violence.

The information below was reported via news agencies in Israeli newspaper Haaretz on 26 March 2004.

Call by leading Palestinians not to resort to violence but to pursue a “peaceful intifada”

In a half-page advertisement published on 25 March 2004 in the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam, 60 prominent Palestinian officials and intellectuals called for the Palestinians to refrain from retaliating for the death of Sheikh Yassin, saying that it would ignite a new round of bloodshed and hurt Palestinian aspirations for independence.

The advertisement called on Palestinians to “lay down their arms and turn to peaceful protest” to end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and in this way show the “bankruptcy” of the policies of the Israeli government.

The signatories said that the occupation must be “toppled” but asked the Palestinian people to “reconsider the benefits” of a violent struggle which is “undermining” the Palestinian cause. Instead the appeal called on Palestinians to “rise again” in a “peaceful, wise intifada”.

“Resistance does not have to be violent resistance” said appeal signatory Hanan Ashrawi.

Among the other prominent signatories were Governor of Nablus Mahmoud Aloul, co-author of the Geneva Accords Yasser Abed Rabbo, and Abbas Zaki, a leading member of Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement.

Our comments: a challenge to Palestinian supporters in the West

Influential figures inside Palestinian society have been questioning the Palestinian violence for at least 2 years (see Beyond Images Briefing 37).

Those in Europe, the USA and elsewhere who support the Palestinian cause should be asked: do you support this new appeal for a “peaceful intifada”, or not?

For the Palestinians, terrorism is not an inevitable outcome of their situation, but a choice they make. The signatories to the appeal described above have indicated the choice which they believe the Palestinians should make.