Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A History



Abuzar Imran

The history of this conflict begins well before World War 1. At that time most of the Jews lived in Europe.

Palestine was inhabited by Arab Muslims and a small number of Jews. It was controlled by the Great Ottoman Empire which ruled the area for almost 500 years. Around the end of the 19th century nationalist movements began to rise (Jewish) called the Zionist movement.

The Jews started discussing migration towards Israel and establish the Jewish state as a solution to the widespread persecution of the Jews.

Zionist ambitions were increasingly identified as a threat by the Arab leaders in the Palestine region. There were many skirmishes from both sides as early as the 1880s.

By 1908, the Arabs had killed 13 Jews trying to settle in the Palestine region. 6 Arabs had also been fatally wounded during these skirmishes. The wealthy Jews started buying land in Palestine and allowed the Jews to settle there.

The Arabs protested against this acquisition of the land by the Jewish population, as a result, the Ottoman authorities banned the sale of land to foreigners in 1892. But the Jewish immigrants kept coming and settled in the already Jewish-owned land. By 1914, 61,000 Jews had settled in Palestine, 33,000 of them being recent settlers.

During World War 1, the Ottoman Empire had sided with Germany against the Allied Forces. Germany had lost the war and the Allies forced it to sign the treaty of Versailles.

The Ottoman Empire was also forced to sign the Treaty of Sevres, which resulted in the abolishment of the Great Ottoman Empire which ruled the area for almost 600 years. With the abolishment of the Ottoman Empire, Palestine came under British rule.

In 1917, the British released a public statement which was proposed by Arthur Balfour and came to know as the Balfour Declaration.

The proposal was to “Favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, but that nothing should be done to prejudice the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”

Exactly one month after the declaration was issued, a large-scale celebration took place at the Royal Opera House. Speeches were given by leading Zionists as well as members of the British administration.

From 1918 till the beginning of World War 2 in 1939, Almost 400,000 Jews had migrated towards Palestine, towards their self-proclaimed home in a period of 20 years.

The local Christian and Muslim community of Palestine, who constituted almost 90% of the population, strongly opposed the declaration.

This was seen as an invasion by the local Arabs because without their permission, how could the British allow the Jews to settle in their homeland.

When the Nazi Dictator, Adolf Hitler rose to power he began a campaign to kill the Jews known as the Holocaust. During World War 2, primarily between the years 1941 till 1945 the Jews were persecuted. Adolf Hitler was against the Jews.

They were forced to wear yellow badges and were sent to concentration camps. Many died because of starvation, the spread of diseases, mass shootings, and gas chambers. This period was a nightmare for the Jews.

Around 6 million Jews were killed during this massacre. Jews were killed in German-controlled Europe.

After this genocide many more Jews started migrating towards Palestine. Around 181,000 more Jewish people settled in Palestine within two years after World War 2 (1945-1947).

Now from 1947 onwards this conflict took a deadly turn and became what we see today, a genocide. This conflict was taken to the United Nations. A committee was formed and a resolution was reached on 3rd September 1947.

The plan was to partition Palestine into two. 44% of the area was to be given to the Arab Muslims including Jerusalem but had to accommodate a tiny Jewish population. 56% of the land was to be given to the Jews but they had to accommodate a sizeable Muslim minority. Non-side was too happy with the proposals made.

The Jews weren’t satisfied because they were losing Jerusalem and the Muslims were worried that a large number of Muslims were under Jewish control. However many Jews and Jewish activists in Palestine were ready to accept the proposals.

The British still had authority over the area on mandate till May 15th, 1948. Every major Arab leader objected in principle to the right of the Jews to an independent state in Palestine.

The Arab countries (all of which had opposed the plan) proposed to query the International Court of Justice on the competence of the General Assembly to partition a country against the wishes of the majority of its inhabitants but were defeated. This was the major reason that sparked the first war between the two nations.

The 1947-1948 war began almost immediately after the approval of the resolution on 29th November 1947. There were riots, stoning, and murders.

Many were shot. The Arabs also attacked the Polish and Swedish consulates as they had voted for the partition. Snipers started shooting people in the streets of Tel Aviv.

On 9th April, 120 Jews went on and attacked a village. There was no one to defend it and a total of 600 people were massacred.

By the end of March 1948, 2000 people had been killed and more than 4000 people were injured.

On 14th May 1948, one day before the British mandate expired, it declared “the establishment of the State of Israel “.

The Declaration stated that the State of Israel would “ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations”. With this, the first war came to an end but led to the start of another.

After the British mandate expired on 14-15 May 1948 armies of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon intervened and a full-scale war (Arab-Israeli War) began.

The Arab armies went and took control of many Palestinian villages and urged the people to stay in their homes while they fought.

On the other hand, the Israelis started assaults on the Arabs and they were forced to retreat. The war ended in an Israeli victory.

Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt signed the 1949 Armistice Agreements with Israel. The remaining territories, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank were occupied by Egypt and Transjordan, respectively.

Jordan also annexed East Jerusalem while Israel administered West Jerusalem. In 1950, the West Bank was unilaterally incorporated into Jordan.

With the ending of the second war, the Jews expelled more than 700,000 Arab Muslims from Israel.

The refugees came to be known as Palestinian Refugees. The Arab countries also responded to this and a total of 856,000 were expelled from the Arab countries including Jews from Libya, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, and North Africa left due to physical and political insecurity. The majority of them were forced to abandon their properties.

During the period of 1948-51, a total of 250,000 refugees migrated to Israel and by the end of 1972, the number of people increased by 600,000.

The period of 1950-67 was a period of great violence for the Israelis. The Jordanian army made many attacks on the Israeli citizens.

The Palestinian militants were also responsible for many attacks on the Jews. The Lavon Affair led to the distrusting of the Egyptians and in February of 1955, Israel attacked the Egyptian Military base in Gaza. 39 Egyptians were killed.

This resulted in the Egyptians turning against the Israelis. They started training and supplying to the Palestinian militants who attacked the Israelis.

The Muslim countries in the world especially the Arabs were determined to drive the Jews out of Palestine and establish a Muslim government.

In the year 1967, the Egyptians expelled the United Nations Emergency Force from the Gaza strip and increased the number of troops. Several other threatening gestures were made by the Arab countries.

Seeing the Israelis launched a series of attacks on the Muslims and this came to be known as the 6-day war.

By the end of the war, Israelis had captured Jerusalem, which was a huge blow to the Muslims. Palestinian were allowed to live in East Jerusalem.

This was the key war that strengthened the Jewish state of Israel. The Arabs were furious and met in Khartoum in August 1967.

They reached a consensus that there should be no recognition, no peace, and no negotiations with the State of Israel.

The defeat of the Arab countries in the Six-Day War prompted fractured Palestinian political and militant groups to give up any remaining hope of independence from the Jews.

In the next 25 years, from 1967-93, there were many mass shootings and skirmishes from both sides. Many rockets were shot at school buses, homes, and offices.

This was a time of genocide for all the people living there. . A total of 45,987 Muslims and 5528 Jews were killed during this period.

Then things took a turn when the Israeli President Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat were invited to Oslo by the American President Bill Clinton in 1993. This was the first attempt to make peace between the two nations.

A peace agreement was reached and in 1994 Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat were given the Nobel Peace Prize.

In February 1994, the Israelis murdered 29 Palestinians and wounded 125 at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

As an act of revenge for the massacre, in April 1994, Hamas launched suicide attacks targeting the Israeli civilian population in many locations throughout Israel. In September 1995, the two leaders signed the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement.

But in January 1996, Israel assassinated the chief bomb maker of Hamas, Yahiya Ayyash. As a result, Hamas carried out two suicide bombings in Jerusalem.

Because of this there relations weakened. Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat were called in for Camp David Summit in 2000 but little was achieved.

From 2000 till present, the Israelis had dominated the region and had killed hundreds of Palestinians and thousands more had been made homeless. According to History, we can see a few things.

Firstly, the Jews had no right to come in and settling in a foreign land that belonged to the Palestinians.

This was clearly an invasion. Secondly, the British had no authority to help the Jews settle there without the permission of the Jews. The British were the major reason for the migration of hundreds of thousands of Jews.

Third and the most important thing, the United Nations kept silent in this matter. This matter could have been solved peacefully if the UN had intervened properly.

The world kept silent when the people were being massacred. But neither the Jews nor the Muslims is to be blamed for the rise of this issue but the question still remains WHO IS?