Dr. Mahdi Abdul Hadi
Head of PASSIA, Jerusalem
Since its establishment in 1987, PASSIA has devoted much of its activities to research and documentation, covering a diversity of subjects relating to the Palestine Question, with the aim to contribute to a better understanding of the Palestinian cause and Palestinian perspectives.
Part of this endeavor is PASSIA’s ongoing efforts to compile and maintain annual chronologies with the intention to preserve the unfolding day-to-day history of the Palestinian struggle. In doing so, the documentation is set in the context of local, regional and world affairs with a special section also devoted to the fate of the city of Jerusalem.
To date, PASSIA has published one vast volume, entitled 100 Years of Palestinian History, covering the 20th Century (1900-1999) as well as volumes reviewing the yearly events in Palestine in 2000 and 2001.
The task of keeping track of and recording Palestinian contemporary history is no easy one taken into consideration the complexity of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as well as the many related events – speeches, statements, resolutions, decisions, violent acts, reconciliatory moves, political initiatives, announcements, declarations, and so on.
With THIS WAS 2002, PASSIA presents the story of 2002 day-by-day, providing a comprehensive and chronological account of the events that unfolded during that year. While trying to be as objective as possible in selecting those events, we are well aware that this volume remains our version of 2002, and that others may have included additional or omitted some of the entries listed. We have tried our best to uphold our deep commitment to truth and accuracy and can only apologize in advance for any errors that the reader may encounter.
Yet, we are proud to present THIS WAS 2002 as a snapshot of a year that will be remembered as a year of massive Israeli army operations, incursions and an unprecedented level of destruction of Palestinian property, including numerous homes, roads, Gaza airport, and other infrastructure facilities. "Operation Defensive Shield," launched in March, still clings to peoples’ memories, having been one of the worst shows of Israel’s military might and involving the reoccupation of most of the West Bank for extended periods.
Despite events such as the reform efforts on the part of the Palestinian Authority, the Saudi peace initiative, US President Bush’s speech endorsing a Palestinian state, and the release of the ‘Road Map’, the overwhelming images of 2002 will remain those of hundreds of Palestinian martyrs and thousands of wounded, the invasion and siege of Palestinian cities, the destruction of the Muqata’a and parts of the Jenin Refugee Camp, and the standoff at the Nativity Church in Bethlehem. The year claimed on both sides of the conflict more victims then ever.
But not only death and destruction made 2002 one of the most traumatic years for Palestinians, the Israeli army continued unabated tightening its stranglehold on the population via checkpoints, roadblocks and curfews and vast areas of Palestinian land were confiscated and razed, be it in preparation for the construction of Israel’s separation barrier or for settlement expansion purposes.
Heartfelt thanks go to the PASSIA team members who continue to carry the responsibility and the burden of work and whose professional integrity I am very proud of. Thanks also go to the Finnish Representative Office in Ramallah for their kind support, without which this volume would not have been possible.