The creation of Israel in 1948 (and the expulsion of many Palestinians from their land) left Palestinians without political representation and subordinate to the conflicting goals of the Arab states and Israel. Organized independent guerrilla resistance began to emerge by 1965, but Palestinian political consciousness grew after the 1967 Arab Israeli war, which ended with the Israeli occupation of the remaining Palestinian areas of previously Arab Palestine – Gaza, the West Bank of the Jordan river (previously controlled by Jordan) and Jerusalem.
Palestinian resistance is often associated with the well-publicized guerrilla tactics of groups such as Al Fatah, headed by Yasser Arafat, which drew recruits from the refugee camps and put the Palestinian cause on the world’s map from the late 1960s. But Palestinians inside the occupied territories did begin to resist in various ways the imposition of Israeli control and the taking of their land for Israeli settlements. The most effective internal opposition began in 1987 and continued into the early 1990s, though it had begun to flag by 1990. In combination with other developments in Arab and international politics, this campaign led to Israel entering into negotiations for the creation of an independent Palestinian state. This (first) ‘Intifada’ – literally ‘shaking off’ – was a mass movement of active civil resistance involving old and young, men and women, and using a range of nonviolent methods, including mass boycotts, as well as increasing self-organization through popular committees, for instance on health. Stone-throwing, often by children, is perhaps the dominant international image of the intifada, but the movement avoided use of firearms. It demonstrated not only Palestinian solidarity and determination, but the existence of an autonomous people asserting their rights. It drew international criticism of Israeli repression, and enabled the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), then based in Tunis, to enter into negotiation with Israel. These resulted in a historic Declaration of Principles in 1993 and the so-called Oslo peace process, which was undermined by increasing Israeli settlements and de facto Israeli economic and military control.
Useful overviews of Palestinian resistance, and specifically the role of nonviolent action, from the early 20th century to the present are: