In the years following the 1993 Oslo Accords—which gave Palestinians, for the first time in history, limited sovereignty as a step toward political independence—Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians became more common. With the outbreak of the second intifada in 2000, suicide bombings became more frequent still, leaving hundreds dead. Shany Mor describes the state of public opinion at the time:
The consensus that a military offensive would be folly was not just the ramblings of mushy leftists and peaceniks. It was by and large the consensus of nearly all the experts in Israel and abroad. Any operation, it was argued, would result in hundreds of casualties to Israeli forces. It would not have the support of the United States or other major powers. It would leave in its wake hundreds if not thousands of civilian casualties. And, most importantly, it simply would not work. Every dead terrorist would spawn three new ones, increasing the sense of grievance and rage that was supposedly fueling the violence to begin with. We know today, with hindsight, that many of these premises turned out to be false.
In 2002, the IDF began extensive military operations that, contrary to all expectations, defeated the intifada. Israel has not since seen terror reach the levels of the 1990s, let alone the early 2000s. Mor assesses the impact of these events:
The 1993 Oslo Accords were pitched to Israelis with a double promise. They would improve the security of Israel, battered by decades of terrorism. And if that first promise remained unfulfilled—even after Israel recognized the PLO and carried out the staged withdrawals from the Gaza Strip and West Bank as called for in the agreements—then the whole world would see who the bad guys really were and stand by Israel. Neither promise was realized and each disappointment left deep scars on the Israeli psyche.
The rejection of statehood and descent into suicidal violence had yielded absolutely nothing positive for the Palestinian cause. . . . [Yet, the] idea that the final defeat of Israel is near if we just wish for it hard enough has never had more purchase on the pro-Palestinian intellectual discourse.