Palestinians Push for Third Intifada

Violence, tension mount as peace process stagnates

Mahmoud Abbas, members of the Palestinian delegation react during a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in November 2012 / AP

Palestinian militant groups are pushing for a "third intifada" in Israel to combat what they call the "Judaization" of Jerusalem, according to Arabic reports.

The group Islamic Jihad rallied hundreds of Palestinians in support of an uprising against Israel during a gathering Thursday evening at the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza, according to the Palestinian Press Agency.

Islamic Jihad leaders urged Palestinians to rise up in pursuit of a "third victory of the al-Aqsa Mosque," the Muslim holy site located on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, according to the report.

Palestinian leaders accused Israel of intentionally damaging and attempting to destroy al-Aqsa, though none of these claims are substantiated by facts. Israeli authorities have preserved the site and granted Palestinians free access to the holy site.

However, Islamic Jihad’s leader urged Palestinians to "resist the occupation" and rise up against Israel.

The Jabalia refugee camp is where the first Palestinian intifada broke out in 1987. Palestinian rioters killed some 160 Israeli civilians and military personnel during the intifada, according to human rights group B’Tselem.

The latest calls for violence come as U.S.-led peace talks in the region languish despite attempts by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to promote a final deal.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned of "catastrophic" repercussions should the peace process fail during an address Thursday afternoon at the United Nations.

Islamic Jihad leaders urged Palestinian officials to "halt negotiations immediately," deeming them an "absurd" ploy by the Israelis.

Hamas officials have publicly stated that the conditions are ripe for another intifada.

"We are facing a political failure for the Palestinian Authority and the beginning of a new popular intifada against Israel," Moussa Abu Marzouk, Hamas’s deputy political bureau chief, stated on his Facebook page last week, according to Israel News.

A Palestinian "day of rage" is scheduled to take place on Friday, according to the report.

The push for a third intifada follows an announcement by Hamas last week stating that it would form a "joint command" with Islamic Jihad.

"Following a meeting between the two Islamist movements, titled ‘Political Developments and Bilateral Relations,’ it was decided that Hamas and Islamic Jihad would appoint four officials each to formulate a ‘political plan,’ Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar wrote in his Facebook page" last week, according to the Times of Israel.

"The meetings between the two movements are ongoing," the report stated.

"We emphasize the depth of the political relationship between Hamas and Jihad, hoping that the negotiations and meetings between us can continue on all levels," Zahar went on to say. "Hamas has taken serious steps. These are not just theoretical writings."

Rumblings of a third intifada have been building for weeks. The killing of two Israeli Defense Forces soldiers over the weekend has only reinforced the belief that Palestinians are on the verge of rioting.

The conditions on the ground closely resemble those that preceded the past intifadas.

Israeli settlers have continuously clashed with Palestinians in Jerusalem, and the IDF has routinely apprehended Palestinians in the West Bank.

Hamas has also clashed with members of the rival Fatah party in recent weeks.

"Things have not been quiet," said Jonathan Schanzer, a Middle East expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). "It’s been a slow and steady simmering beneath the surface with regular clashes week after week."

"The potential for a third intifada has been there," said Schanzer, noting that the peace process tends to rekindle "deep seated anger and frustration."

However, this time around, there is the "possibility of not only an intifada but an intrafada" that could take out Abbas, Schanzer said.