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Fatah boasts that Yasser Arafat deliberately started the second intifada

The years-long terror campaign would not have been possible without the Oslo Accords.

Yasser Arafat. Credit: World Economic Forum.
Yasser Arafat. Credit: World Economic Forum.
Itamar Marcus
Itamar Marcus

This week, the Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah Party posted an old interview with Mamdouh Nawfal, who served as Yasser Arafat’s advisor on internal affairs in 2000. Nawfal described in detail Arafat’s decision to take advantage of then-member of Knesset Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount in Sept. 2000 to start a terror campaign that would last a “long” time.

The terror orchestrated by Arafat and the P.A. lasted four-and-a-half years, during which Palestinian terrorists, including many members of Arafat’s P.A. security forces funded by the West, murdered 1,100 Israelis.

Palestinian Media Watch reported at the time, and has added extensive documentation since, that the “second intifada” was a terror campaign initiated and directed by Arafat, contrary to claims by Western governments and some Israeli leaders who were misled into believing that Arafat was merely unable to stop it.

In the interview originally broadcast on Al Jazeera on Feb. 3, 2009 and posted by Fatah on Facebook on Sept. 6, 2022, Nawfal said that by the day of Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount, Arafat “dispatch[ed] many people under the name Guardians of Al-Aqsa” to initiate violence.

The very next day he gave orders that the Palestinian terror was to be “everywhere.”

“The orders and instructions to the security forces and the Tanzim [a Fatah terror faction] were to take action after the Friday prayers,” Nawfal said. “The activity was not limited to the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The instructions to the Fatah organizations were to take action in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and everywhere.”

Arafat’s plan was that the terror campaign would be “long” and Fatah and not Hamas would lead it. “The path is still long, and we will see who will lead,” he said.

This is not the first time that Arafat’s advisor admitted that Arafat was solely responsible for the intifada. PMW exposed a previous interview with the newspaper Al-Hayat in 2005 in which he said this explicitly: “As to the second intifada, one could say with complete objectivity that Arafat exploited Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount and the people’s hatred of the occupation to bring about the outburst. … Arafat made no attempt to evade responsibility when he was blamed for its eruption.”

It is unclear why Fatah decided to rebroadcast this old interview now. One likely explanation is that Sept. 13 is the 29th anniversary of the signing of the Oslo Accords. The P.A. has said many times that the “success” of the intifada—i.e., the murder of over 1,000 Israelis—was proof that Arafat made the right decision by signing the Oslo Accords.

The intifada terror campaign would not have been possible without the Oslo Accords, which enabled the P.A. to build its terror infrastructure, since part of the agreement allowed the P.A. to arm itself. Fatah, which is very weak today, and would likely be defeated by the terror organization Hamas were elections to be held, is taking the opportunity of the Oslo Accords anniversary to remind Palestinians that it was Fatah’s Arafat who decided both to sign the Oslo Accords and launch and direct the second intifada.

Itamar Marcus is the founder and director of Palestinian Media Watch, which originally published this article.

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