Interview by Marwan Barghouti to "Al Hayat"
September 29, 2001

In a September 29, 2001 interview to the "Al Hayat" newspaper, published in London, Marwan Barghouti exposed his role in igniting the "Al-Aqsa Intifada".

Following are selected excerpts from the newspaper article, including quotations by Barghouti as told to the reporter Hashem Abdallah:

"I knew that the end of the month of September [2000] would be the last opportunity before the explosion, but when Sharon arrived at the Al Aqsa Mosque it was the strongest (most suitable) moment for the breakout of the Intifada. This is because the subject concerns Jerusalem, and even more it regards Al Aqsa. The meaning of this – setting fire to the entire region and specifically [due to the fact] that the issue of Al Aqsa inflames and ignites the sensibilities of the masses."

"On the eve of Sharon’s visit I participated in a TV panel, on a local TV station. I found this to be the right opportunity to call upon the public to go to Al Aqsa on the following morning because it is not possible for Sharon to arrive at the Temple Mount [El-Haram Al-Sharif] ‘just like that’ and walk away peacefully. I was determined, and early the next morning I went to Al-Aqsa."

"Sincerely, when I arrived at the area of the mosque, I was surprised by the people who had arrived. The gathering there consisted entirely of Palestinians of 1948, eight of them Israeli-Arab members of the parliament and over 60 other well-known people. I was dissatisfied with the small attendance and when friction did not occur, I became angry. We tried to create friction, but with no success – due to conflicts of opinions that emerged with other people surrounding the friction created at the Al Aqsa square at the time."

"We did not need a war. The issue is completely different. War breaks out according to the decision of the president or the commander of the military. The Intifada however, was not ignited by a person or a group of people, but it evolved from reaching deeply into the feeling of the masses. There were those who were opposed to the conflict. At the same time, I saw within the situation a historic opportunity to ignite the conflict. The strongest conflict is the one that initiated from Jerusalem due to the sensitivity of the city, its uniqueness and its special place in the hearts of the masses who are willing to sacrifice themselves [for her] with not even thinking of the cost."

"After Sharon left, I had stayed in the area for two hours with other well known people and we spoke about the character of the reaction and of how people should react in all the towns and villages and not only in Jerusalem. We made contact with all the factions."

Barghouti made it clear that he did not leave Jerusalem until the early hours of Thursday evening – Friday morning, after speaking and consulting with operatives of the Fatah’s Shabiba organization [Fatah youths]. The Shabiba organization distributed a proclamation on Wednesday, the eve of Sharon’s visit, calling upon the public to disapprove of the visit. The contacts, which included members of the Fatah organization dealt with one thing: the character of the reaction of the following day, Friday, September 29, 2000 – a day that will forever be remembered and inscribed in the minds of this entire generation, as the day on which the Intifada was ignited and turned inside-out and upside-down the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations of the last 10 years and the fragile peace process.

When Barghouti left Jerusalem that same night, he knew very well that he would return there in several hours. He returned on Friday morning in order to witness the outbreak of the Intifada.

"When I arrived to the Old City, the conflict had started already and no-one could either enter or leave. I went towards Salah A-Din Street and it was closed. I then went to the area of A-Tur to the hospital Elmakuasad in order to examine the condition of the hurt and the wounded. When we came near the area, the conflict arrived there. Close to 3,000 people barricaded the area."

"The situation was war. By definition. Now, more then ever I felt as if the city of Jerusalem was burning. I also felt that there was a good Jerusalemite and Palestinian response. Through the media I called to turn the next day into a day of solidarity with Jerusalem."

The same evening Barghouti went to area of the Arab Triangle within Israel, where he was supposed to attend a convention. Concerning this, he said:

"While we were in the vehicle on our way to the Arab Triangle, I prepared a proclamation on behalf of the high Fatah committee in coordination with the brothers [apparently the Hamas] in which we called upon [opon the people] to react to what happened in Jerusalem. When I came back to Ramallah I continued the talks with the contacts I had gathered around me regarding the character of our activity and the continuation of the reaction."

Barghouti makes it clear that matters had not yet been fully established, though the reaction on the last Saturday of the month of September tipped the scales in the other directions, and no-one could do anything, even though pressures were operated, in order to stop the human flood on All the conquered lands?".

     
 Interview by Marwan Barghouti to Al Hayat-29-Sep-2001
Marwan Bin Khatib Barghouti