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The intifadah (1987-1993), frequently described as a ‘spontaneous’ Palestinian uprising, was anything but spontaneous. Israelis were caught unawares, because they had made the conscious decision to forget that they had become occupiers. They were rudely awakened when the youths of the Palestinian refugee camps--the traditional vanguards of protest--were joined in the streets by middle-aged businessmen, shopkeepers, teachers, labourers, mothers and daughters, in an outpouring of rage that had been simmering in the territories for almost twenty years.

The intifadah forced Israelis to face up to reality; the status quo could no longer be maintained.

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