Israel-Palestine Conflict: The History

The Israelis and Palestinians have been at war since the mid-20th century. After witnessing numerous wars, suicide bombings, and the loss of innocent civilians on both sides, it is difficult to contemplate the possibility of peace at this moment. This century-old conflict has its roots in the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.

Throughout history, many groups such as the Arabs, the Greeks, the Romans ruled the Palestinians. In 1922, Palestine, part of former Ottoman territories, was placed under UK administration by the League of Nations. The League of Nations was a worldwide intergovernmental organization intended to maintain world peace. Eventually, all of these territories became fully independent States, except Palestine. The Balfour Declaration issued by the British, which came into effect in 1923, supported the establishment of a national home for the Jews in Palestine.

While the Jews wanted to set up a Jewish national state, the native Palestinian Arabs attempted to curb Jewish immigration and establish a secular Palestinian state. The desire for a homeland incited a small number of Jews to immigrate to Palestine. This number drastically grew with the persecution of Jews by Nazi Germany. The vast immigration caused tension between the Jews and the native Palestinian Arabs. From 1929, Arabs and Jews openly expressed their distaste against each other. 

The continued terrorism and intense violence led the British to hand over the situation to the United Nations. On November 29, 1947, after more than two decades of British rule, the United Nations proposed a plan to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. In the partition, Jordan got West Bank and East Jerusalem, whereas Egypt got the Gaza Strip.

Finally, the state of Israel was created on May 14, 1948. Both the Jews and the Arabs claimed Jerusalem as their capital. So, Jerusalem was given special status as an international territory. 

Despite making up less than half of the population of Palestine, the Jews gained more than half of Palestine after the partition. The Arabs opposed and demanded more territory since they represented a majority of the population. In 1948, the neighbouring Arab states allied with the Palestinian Arabs fought against the Israeli forces. The Arab nations involved in the Arab-Israeli War included Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and Lebanon. 

When the war ended in July 1949, Israel controlled the UN-allocated territory of Palestinian Arabs and also some Arab sections. Millions of native Palestinians fled from their land to the West Bank, Gaza and neighbouring Arab countries, leaving the country with a Jewish majority. 

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was an organization formed in 1964 to establish an independent Palestinian Arab state through armed struggle. 

In June 1967, the Six-Day war emerged due to the volatile animosity between Israel and the Arab states. Israel fought against Syria, Egypt and Jordan. After its victory, Israel took control of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. 

On October 6, 1973, the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur, an alliance of Arab nations launched a surprise attack on Israel. Although the Arab states gained the upper hand initially, Israel repelled the attack aided by its allies consisting of the US.

The first intifada or Palestinian uprising against Israeli domination occurred in December 1987. Countless lives became prey to the rebellion, which lasted till 1997.

In 1993, the Government of Israel and the PLO initiated a peace process to resolve the region-wide issues. Both the parties signed the first of two pacts known as the Oslo accords. 

In September 2002, Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon visited the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in east Jerusalem. Many Palestinians considered his visit to the Muslim holy site an offensive step. As a result, Israel witnessed the second Palestinian intifada. The attacks and riots that ensued put a stop to the once-promising peace process. This period of violence continued until 2005. 

In 2006, a Sunni Islamist militant group Hamas won the elections in Gaza. Fatah political group that controlled the West Bank clashed with Hamas. Hamas overthrew Fatah and seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007.

The subsequent years saw numerous cruel killings and suicide bombing by Hamas and Israel. Some of the brutal wars include Operation Cast Lead in December 2008, Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012 and Operation Protective Edge in July 2014. Finally, both the parties signed a reconciliation accord in October 2017.

Palestinians are still struggling to establish an official state. Although many propositions have been formulated, none of them has been kind enough to accommodate the Israelis. The history of Palestine involves lots of bloodshed and the loss of innocent lives. To date, world leaders have been working cooperatively to find an efficient solution for Palestinians and Israelis.

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