The second intifada, or uprising, began in the autumn of 2000, following a summer of failed peace talks at Camp David. The immediate provocation was a visit by the then head of the Likud party, Ariel Sharon, to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the site of the first and second temples of the Jews in the common era, and today the site of the Al Aqsa mosque. Sharon may have wanted to scuttle the peace process with his symbolic demonstration of Israeli power over Islamic sites. The visit provoked demonstrations and violence by Palestinian protesters, to which Israel responded with force.
The deeper cause of the uprising, however, was Palestinian frustration at continued Jewish settlement in the West Bank, increasing doubt that Israel intended to fulfill promises made at Oslo, and ineffective governance by Arafat and the Palestinian Authority. Palestinians dismayed at these failures gave more support to a new generation of leaders, who created alliances with Islamist groups such as Hamas. Militias authorized by Fatah also made allegiance with Hamas.
Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other groups' use of suicide bombing had a fundamentally different tenor in the period following the second intifada. Such bombings appeared to be part of a more coordinated effort to achieve strategic parity with the comparitively overwhelming power of the Israeli military. Hamas and other Islamist groups also gained power vis-a-vis the existing secular Palestinian leadership. Hamas' militarism bespoke its potential efficacy and raised its stature in the eyes of many Palestinian civilians. An increasing number shared Hamas' rejection of attempted truces negotiated between Israel and Fatah.
Violence spawned self-fulfilling prophecies on both sides, as Serge Schemann pointedly noted in the spring of 2002: "To the Israelis, the endless slaughter of innocents becomes confirmation that the goal of the Arabs is to drive them into the sea. To the Palestinians, the anguished Israeli response becomes a confirmation that they will never willingly fulfill the Palestinians' longings, creating a spiral that only inspires more youths to embrace a murderous death and more Israelis to demand military action."
Hamas also provided badly needed social services, such as schooling and medical care, which helped them garner support.