Palestine: Facts about Palestine and Israel Conflicts

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            There are so many debates happening about Palestine and Israel conflicts. How they are different and what the conflicts is all about? How they start fighting and what is happening right now in this region? This article will help you to know all the history and facts about Palestine and Israel Conflicts.

             Palestine is a very small territory in the eastern Mediterranean region. This piece of land has played an important role in the modern as well as ancient history of the Middle East. The Palestine’s history is full of violent land seizures and frequent political conflicts. The reason behind these conflicts is that this piece of land is very important for several major religions of world. Another reason of political conflicts of Palestine is that it sits at a geographically valuable place. This region provides a crossroad between Asia and Africa. In today’s world, the Arab people who call this piece of land home called as Palestinians. Palestinians have a very strong desire for very long time to create an independent and free state in that contested piece of land of the world.

What is Palestine?

            The word Palestine derived from a Greek word ‘Philistia’. Which is a description of the region according to the ancient Greek writers in 12th century B.C. Afterward, since the Ottoman Empire had come to his fall in World War I till 1948. Typically Palestine referred as a region between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea geographically. Since the early 20th century, the Arab people who call this region home called as Palestinians. However most of the land from this territory known as present day Israel.

This image shows the historical Palestine map and the map of Palestine in present world.

West Bank

            In present world, theoretically Palestine includes a region that is sit between Jordan and modern-day Israel called as West Bank. It got its name in the relation to the Jordan River. It is the land that is located on the west side of the river or west of the bank. Hence, West Bank. In Arabic, you will hear it referred to as “Al Dhaffe”, which is the bank. Some of the major cities in the west bank include Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Ramallah, Nablus, Khalil or Hebron, Jericho, and Jenin.

Gaza Strip

            The second territory includes in Palestine is the Gaza or short name for Gaza Strip. This is located between Egyptian borders and modern-day Israel. Gaza is actually just one of the cities in that region. Some of the major cities here include the city of Gaza, Rafah, Khan Yunis, and Deir El Balah. So the West Bank and Gaza together make up Palestine.

The West Bank and Gaza Strip together make up current day Palestine.

Palestinian Population

            The Palestinians are just not live in the Palestinian territories that are west bank and Gaza. You will also find them living in Israel. Palestinians who live in Israel often refer to say as 48 or “thamanye w arbaeen” in Arabic. That use to say 48 as a short form for 1948. This is the year when Israeli state was establish. The Palestinians from current day Israel were either killed or forced to leave their land and never return. So, you might hear Palestinian live in Israel territories say something like “I am from 48”. They call it 48 because they don’t really enjoy calling it Israel. Knowing that this land was stolen from them in 1948.

            There are some areas in 48 that weren’t completely wiped of the Palestinian people. There are some areas that still have Palestinian populations, some more than others. Some of the major cities here include Yafa or what Israeli established as Tel Aviv. There is also Haifa, Nazareth, Akka, and Safad. So Palestinians live in all three areas West Bank, Gaza Strip and 48 or Israel. 

Control over Palestine

            The control over this land is an evolving and complex situation. Internationally there is no consensus about the borders of this region. More than 135 countries, member of United Nations recognize Palestine as a separate and independent state. On the other hand, other countries specially United States and Israel itself does not make any distinction between Palestine and Israel. There are so many areas those are claimed by Palestinians and Israel has illegitimately occupation over these areas for years. Under international law these areas supposed to be 100% Palestinian. No Israeli presence. No argument. But instead of just Palestine, you will hear it referred to as the Palestinian territories. Which is the name United nation gave West Bank and Gaza because they are both illegitimately occupied by Israel.

            Israelis have control over everyone and everything that goes in and out of the Palestinian territories. It is like if you want to drive from Jordan to the West Bank. You should be going through the Jordanian border control and then Palestinian border control, right? But no, Israel has complete illegitimate control over the borders. So you have to go through Jordanian border control and then Israeli border control to get into the West Bank. They have control over the water and food supplies of Palestinians. Whenever a clash happened, Israel stops Palestinians water and food supply.

Earl Roots of Palestine

            The scholars believe that the name “Palestine” is originally come from word “Philistia”. This refers to the “Philistines” who is basically occupied part of this region in 12th century B.C. Throughout the history, there have been numerous groups who ruled over Palestine. This includes Mamelukes, Egyptians, Crusaders, Seljuk Turks, Fatimids, Arabs, Babylonians, Romans, Persians, Greeks, and Assyrians. Almost about four hundred years, the Ottoman Empire had ruled much of this region.

            In 1918 when World War I ended, the control over Palestine taken by the British Empire. A British mandate issued by The League of Nations for Palestine. This mandate is a document that gave the control of this region to the Britain administrative. This mandate also includes a provision for Jews to establish a Jewish national homeland in Palestine. In 1923, the result of this mandate went into effect.

Partition of Palestine

            British Empire ruled over Palestine for more than two decades. After that in 1947, the United Nations proposed a plan to divide Palestine into two sections. These two sections consist of an independent Arab state and an independent Jewish state. The city of Jerusalem claimed by both Palestinian Arabs and Jews as a capital. This city has a special status and was to be an international territory.

            The plan was happily accepted by Jewish leaders but many Palestinian strongly opposed it. The Palestinian Arabs groups who opposed this plan are those had been actively fighting Jewish and British interests in this region since 1920. The Palestinian Arabs had a strong argument that certain region represented the majority of Palestinian Arabs population. So, they should have more territory. These activists Palestinian groups started to create volunteer armies all over the Palestine.

Israel: Becomes a State

            Afterward less than a year later, when the Partition Plan was introduced for Palestine Israeli started to act. In 1948, when Britain withdrew ruling over Palestine. Israel started to declare itself as a separate and independent state. Israel was willingly showing the implementation of the Partition Plan for Palestine given by United Nations. When the Israel started to establish their state then almost immediately the neighboring Arab armies started to move in and prevent Israeli establishment. Arab-Israeli war happened in 1948; five Arab nations involved in this war against Israel. Those five Arab nations include Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Jordan.

            When the war ends in july1947, unfortunately Israel took control over more than two third part of the Palestine. That is more occupation than former British Mandate. On the other hand the control over Egypt, Gaza Strip and West Bank taken by Jordan. The conflicts happen in 1948 opened a new chapter. The struggle between Palestinian Arabs and Jews became a regional contest now. These regional level conflicts involve a tangle of economic, political and diplomatic interests and national states.

Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)

            An organization formed in 1964 called as Palestine Liberation Organization. The main purpose of this organization was to create an independent Palestinian Arab state. This separate independent state will be on the land that is administered by the British Mandate. Palestine Liberation Organization considered that the Israel illegitimately occupied this land from Palestinians. However, the PLO originally generated for the destruction of Israeli state. PLO has these motives as means to attain their goals of an independent state for Palestinians.

            In 1993 another agreement signed between the Palestine Liberation Organization and the government of Israel. The agreement known as Oslo Accords. In this agreement, the PLO accepted rights of Israel to exist. In exchange to accept Israel’s right, PLO wants its formal recognition by Israel. It was a high water-mark in the history of Palestinian-Israeli relations. Yasser Arafat was a well-known Palestinian leader who became the Chairman in 1969 of Palestine Liberation Organization. He held that title until he passed on in 2004.

Six-Day War

            In 1967 a six-day war was happen between Israel and its neighboring countries. This war was trigger when a tense period of clashes and diplomatic friction happened between Israel and its neighboring countries. Moreover, In April 1967, the skirmishes get worse when Syria and Israel fought aggressive artillery and air engagement. In addition, In this engagement almost six fighter jets were destroy of Syrian air force. After this ferocious air battle between Syria and Israel, Soviet Union wakes up. Soviet Union provided intelligence to Egypt that Israeli Government was moving their troops toward northern border of Egypt. Moreover, Soviet Union also claimed that the Syria was also preparing a full-scale invasion for Egypt.

            The information was wrong but it still stirred the president of Egypt Gamal Abdel Nasser. Therefore, He started to advance the forces into the Sinai Peninsula. He also expelled a peace-keeping force of United Nations from northern border. This force had been guarding the border for over a decade with Israel. On 5 June 1967, Israeli Defense Forces launched a pre-emptive aerial attack against the Egypt. Both countries claimed that these attacks were in self-defense. This aerial attacking fight ended after six days on 10 June. This war also drew in Syria and Jordan, both of them sided with Egypt. It came to be called as The Six-Day War. In the result of this war Israel gains major land claimed by Palestinians.

Outcome of Six-day war

            At the end of this war, Israel took control over of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Israel also had taken control over the Sinai Peninsula. Sinai Peninsula is a desert region that is located between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Israel also took control of the Golan Heights. It is a rocky plateau that is situated between modern-day Israel and Syria. This Arab-Israeli six day war of 1967 resulted into a continued armed conflict and tension between Israel and its neighboring Arab states.

First Intifada and The Oslo Accords

            The first Intifada was break out in 1987. It is a Palestinian uprising against Israel who illegitimately occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In this uprising militia groups of Palestinian revolted and hundreds of hundreds people got killed.

            A subsequent peaceful agreement was initiate in the early 1990s. This is known as the Oslo Accords. The main aim of this agreement was to end the ongoing conflicts and violence.

First Oslo Accord (Oslo I)

            The agreement of first Oslo Accord (Oslo I) was sign in 1993. This Oslo Accord was witnessed by well Known Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and prime minister of Israel Yitzhak Rabin. In this agreement a timetable created for peace process in Middle East. This peaceful Accord created a plan for an interim Palestinian government in parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In 1994 Yasser Arafat was returned to Gaza after being exiled from Palestine for 27 years. He became the head of newly formed Palestinian Authority.

Second Oslo Accord (Oslo II)

            A second Oslo Accord was happen in 1995. This time Oslo tries to set groundwork to force Israeli troops to complete withdrawal from different parts of West Bank and so many other areas. In this Oslo Accord, a schedule set for the electronic of Palestinian Legislative Council.

            Unfortunately, the Oslo peace process was fail in their ultimate goals. Oslo Accord couldn’t bringing the Palestinians and Israeli to agree over their full-fledged peace plan.

Second Intifada: Continues Violence

            The Second Palestinian Intifada was begin in September 2000. The reason behind this Intifada was a right-wing; Ariel Sharon who was a Jewish Israeli visit Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Later on, this Ariel Sharon would become Israel’s prime minister. Many Palestinians felt offensive and think that this was a move against them and they start protesting. Palestinians felt that way because Al-Aqsa is one of the holiest sites of the Muslims.

            There were so many suicide bombings, riots and other attacks broke out subsequently. This Intifada putting an end to Oslo peace process and all the agreements happened in it. This violence period lasted almost five years between Palestinians and Israelis. In August 2005, Israel finally withdrew its army from Gaza.

Hamas

            Palestinian legislative elections Happened in 2006 and a Sunni Islamist militant group won the elections. This group is known as Hamas. In the same year there had been a fight between Fatah and Hamas. Fatah is a political group that would control the PLO afterwards. Finally in 2007, Hamas won a battle for Gaza from Fatah. Some countries consider that Hamas is a terrorist organization. The Hamas group all the time carried out suicide bombings with them and called for the Israel’s destruction repeatedly.

            Hamas fought with Israel in several aggressive and violent wars. Such as: Operation Cast Lead in December 2008, in November 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense and in July 2014 Operation Protective Edge. In April 2014, Fatah and Hamas make a deal that they together would create a unified national Palestinian government.

Current State of Palestine

            Palestinians still are fighting with Israel for an official state that is formally recognize by all over the world. However, Palestinians occupy main areas of this region including Gaza Strip and West Bank. In addition, for many years Israel continue to settle in the areas specifically under Palestinian occupation according to British mandate. Several international rights groups considered that these settlements are totally illegitimate. A number of Israeli also considers that these settlements are illegal. They oppose these settlements and really prefer to resolve their land issues with Palestine in a better way. The borders of this region are not fully define and persistent conflicts keep on being a norm.

            Hamas leader presented a document in May 2017 in which they proposed a plan for a separate and independent state for Palestinians. The boarders of this state would be define according to the 1967 British Mandate. This plan proposed Jerusalem as the capital of Palestinian state. Moreover, the Hamas refused to consider Israel as a separate state. So, the Israeli government rejected the plan of Hamas organization.

            The tension increased in May 2018, when U.S. Embassy relocates their office from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This move of America shows that they consider Jerusalem as a capital of Israel not the Palestine. As the response, Palestinians started to protest at Gaza-Israel border. This border met with Israeli force and as the result the dozens of Palestinian protesters were dead.

Al-Aqsa Attacks in 2021:

            In May 2021, Israel starts to shooting and attaching Palestinian worshipers at Al-Aqsa mosque. There are the facts that will help you to understand the reasons behind these attacks.

What and where is Al-Aqsa mosque?

Al-Aqsa Mosque

            Al-Aqsa is the third most holy site in Islam. It is a huge open space with multiple indoor praying areas and but the entire compound is considered as Al-Aqsa. Now Al-Aqsa is located in the old city of Jerusalem. The old city is basically a huge enclosed city like a massive fort with only a handful of doors to get in and out. It has housing, market places, alleyways and religious spaces.

The Old City of Jerusalem

            The old city is made up of four quarters. The Christian quarter, the Jewish quarter, the Armenian quarter, and the Muslim quarter. Al-Aqsa located in the Muslim quarter.

Who has control of Al-Aqsa?

            Under international law the Palestinian territories made up of West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Jerusalem is in West Bank. Also under international law and the UN, Jerusalem suppose to be break up into East and West Jerusalem. West Jerusalem belongs to Israel and East Jerusalem belongs to Palestinian territories. Al-Aqsa and the Muslim quarter are in the East Jerusalem. So, legally Palestine has ownership of Al-Aqsa. That is how it’s suppose to be. But in 1967, Israel took control over East Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories as we discussed above.  This includes Al-Aqsa, the Muslim quarter and all the neighborhoods outside the old city, like Shaik Jarrah.

Map of Jerusalem divided into two sections, West belongs to Israel and East belongs to Palestine and Al-Aqsa is in East Jerusalem.

            So because Israel has control over the East Jerusalem, Palestinians in Palestinian territories don’t have access to Al-Aqsa. They have to apply for a special permit from Israel to visit Al-Aqsa and most of the time Israel rejects the requests. There are people who were born and raised 30 minutes from Al- Aqsa and they have literally never been. This isn’t just for Muslim Palestinians; even Christian Palestinians in the West Bank don’t have open access to their holy sites in the Christian quarters of Jerusalem. Israel illegally has full control over the old city and all the religious sites that are in it.

What happened at Al-Aqsa in May 2021?

            It was the holy month of Ramadan for Muslims everywhere and last ten days of Ramadan are extremely important. So, Al-Aqsa was jam-pack with Palestinian Muslims praying together. One night when Palestinians were praying together at Al-Aqsa, Israeli police barged their way into the Al-Aqsa compound with guns and full protective gear. They started shooting rubberized steel bullets and throwing stun grenades at the Palestinians who were praying at their mosque. They also threw stun grenades at Palestinians at marketplace who were also not doing anything.

            The Israeli police also broken into the actual mosques, the indoor areas, punch the glass doors down. They walking into the mosque with their shoes on, that are not allow in the mosque. They also threw stun grenades inside the mosque, indoors, close the doors and block it. This isn’t just a random mosque, this is one of the holiest sites in Islam and they literally treat it like it was a trash. This left hundreds of Palestinians extremely injured. Israeli police also attack the medical tents. They threw stun grenades at Palestinian medics.

What is the reason behind Al-Aqsa Attack?

            As I mentioned above Israel has illegal control all over Al-Aqsa and East Jerusalem. So what Israel does is use the Al-Aqsa mosque as a way to control the Palestinian people. Historically anytime the Palestinians in any part of the country start to protest or rebel against Israel government. Israel attack Al-Aqsa to send a message to the Palestinian people that if you keep protesting and rebelling we are going to take away Al-Aqsa from you. They know Al-Aqsa is a soft sport of Palestinians; it is their holy site they have to protect it. Israel has been using Al-Aqsa as a tool to repress Palestinian rights since 1967. When Israel took control over Al-Aqsa, East Jerusalem and Palestinians territories.

            Sheik Jarrah is a Palestinian neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem that supposed to be Palestinian land. But Israel is forcing Palestinians to leave their homes so that Israel settlers can move in as they have been doing since 1967. As a result hundreds of Palestinians had been protesting in Sheikh Jarrah trying to physically protect the Palestinians who are about to get kicked out of their homes. So what does Israel do when Palestinians protesting? They attack Al-Aqsa. That is what happing now in Palestine. Al-Aqsa is being attack by Israeli police because of the protests at Sheik Jarrah. To scare the Palestinians to not protesting.

            The history of Palestine involves so many instability, bloodshed and displacement. Although, many world leaders working toward the resolution that will result as peace throughout this region.

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