This article has been written to bring awareness to all readers on the history behind the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine due to the current humanitarian crisis.
The struggle between Israeli and Palestinian land has been ongoing for centuries. This article hopes to discuss some of the conflict starting at the end of the nineteenth century. Known as the Partition Plan, Resolution 181 was adopted by the United Nations in 1947 to divide up the British Mandate of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states. As a result of the creation of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948, the first Arab-Israeli War began.
A victory for Israel in 1949 resulted in the displacement of some 750,000 Palestinians and the division of their territory into three parts: the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the State of Israel.
As tensions grew in the region, particularly between Israel and Egypt as well as between Jordan and Syria, the situation became increasingly tense. A mutual defense pact was signed by Egypt, Jordan, and Syria following the 1956 Suez Crisis and Israel’s invasion of the Sinai Peninsula.
In June of 1967, the Six-Day War began when Israel preemptively attacked Egyptian and Syrian air forces following maneuvers by Egyptian President Abdel Gamal Nasser. Egypt gave Israel the rights to the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip; Jordan gave Israel the rights to the West Bank and East Jerusalem; and Syria gave Israel the rights to the Golan Heights. To regain their lost territory, Egypt and Syria launched a surprise two-front attack on Israel six years later in what has been referred to as the Yom Kippur War or the October War.
There were no significant gains for Egypt, Israel, or Syria in this conflict, but Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat declared the war a victory for Egypt since he allowed Egypt and Syria to negotiate over previously ceded territory. Egyptian and Israeli representatives signed the Camp David Accords in 1979, ending the thirty-year conflict between the two countries following cease-fires and peace negotiations.
In 1987, Palestinians living near the West Bank and Gaza Strip would start what would be known as the first “infada” against the Israeli government, despite the Camp David Accords. As a result of the “infada”, the Oslo Accords would be created in 1993 in an attempt to mediate the conflict, allowing Palestinians to govern themselves in Gaza and the West Bank, and allowing mutual recognition between Israel and its Palestinian Authority.
Two years later, another agreement would be made consisting of the removal of six Israeli cities and 450 small towns known as as the Oslo Accords II.
In 2000, control over the West Bank frustrated Palestinians to the point that they launched yet another civil uprising which would last until 2005. In 2002, the Israeli government responded by approving the construction of a 450 mile barrier wall around the West Bank in order to prevent crossings and more attacks on Israeli citizens. This was never intended to be permanent, despite the International Criminal Court and International Court of Justice considering it “contrary to international law.”
Palestinians viewed the construction of the barrier as criminal considering it took 10% of Palestine’s already limited size in land within Israel.
In 2006, animosity between Palestinians rose yet again when Hamas won the Palestinian Authority’s election against the long standing Fatah, a Palestinian nationalist and social democratic political party.
Hamas was founded in Kuwait by Palestinian diasporas in the late 1950s after the 1948 Nakba, the Zionist movement aimed to create a Jewish modern state in historic Palestine by the removal Palestinians for the sake of Israel’s independence. Hamas was inspired by the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood as not only a political movement, rather a militant movement as well. They were considered a terrorist organization since the late twentieth century by the United States and European Union who refused to acknowledge the election as legitimate.
Control of the Gaza Strip would be one of the main ambitions of Hamas’ ruling during the 2006 election. Today, the Gaza Strip is a very small sliver of land in-between the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, with Israel to the east, along with a shared border with Egypt to the south. As of 1993, the land has been under the control of Palestinian Authority.
Once Hamas obtained control of Gaza, a series of violent events would break out with Fatah along with many failed negotiations for peace until 2011. The result of these violent negotiations would demonstrate Fatah eventually joining forces with Hamas to unify their government in 2014.
The differences in political agendas between the two consist of Hamas having an Islamic ideology strategized by armed resistance while Fatah remained secular, strategized by negotiations. Hamas also refuses to recognize Israel and views its control over the land as illegal. Fatah does recognize Israel yet, similar to Hamas, they wish to build a state within the the borders that were recognized in 1967.
Months after the unification, violent confrontations between Hamas and Israeli military would once again begin over Palestinian territories. Hamas would launch approximately 3,000 deadly rockets towards Israel which sparked a heavy offensive counter-attack of the Israeli military on Gaza.
73 Israelis and 2,251 Palestinians were killed among the chaos that ended in late August 2014 after an Egyptian cease-fire was brokered. Amongst the cease-fire, President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah announced that Palestinians shall no longer abide by the territorial borders of the Oslo Accords.
In March of 2018, Palestinians would begin a series of protests along the Gaza Strip — the southwestern border to Israel which would be known as the “Great March of Return”. Palestinians would demonstrate its final protest, occurring during the seventeenth anniversary of Nakba. Despite the majority of their previous protests remaining peaceful, some Palestinians became violent, storming the perimeter. 183 Palestinian demonstrators were killed along with 6,000 Palestinians wounded by Israeli gunfire.
These protests would result in Fatah divorcing itself from Hamas. Following the divorce, Fatah would maintain its Palestinian authority of the West Bank from 2010 until 2020.
In 2018, Israel and Palestine witnessed its most violent spell since Hamas militants once again launched approximately 100 rockets into Israel. Similarly to Israel’s response in 2014, Israel countered with military strikes on what they deemed 50 of their most dangerous targets within one day.
In 2020, despite part of the Trump administration’s campaign to achieve peace between the two parties, the administration would relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, surrounding itself by Palestinian territory. The administration also enforced the removal of its funding towards the United Nation’s Relief and Works Agency, who supplied aid to Palestinian refugees.
While the these decisions were favored by Israel, it was seen as a major setback of Palestine’s goal of obtaining Jerusalem as its own. During the United States’ attempt to reconcile with Palestine, the Peace to Prosperity Plan was offered. Palestine rejected their proposal because it granted Israel overriding responsibility for the land west of the Jordan River, allowing for defensible borders and preventing compromises on the safety of its people.
In October of 2020, a court decision by the Israeli government would once again ignite another wave of Palestinian protests. The decision enforced the removal of a handful of Palestinian families that lived in a neighborhood in the eastern part of Jerusalem known as Sheikh Jarrah and were to be forced to relocate to Palestinian territory by May of 2021, leaving their land ownership to local Jewish families . The Palestinian families appealed the courts decision and were eventually denied.
A month before the evictions were to take place, Palestinians and other activists would demonstrate somewhat peaceful protests in the streets of Sheikh Jarrah along with nightly sit-ins. The al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem was the scene of violence on May 7, following nearly a month of daily demonstrations and rising tensions between protesters, Israelis, and police during Ramadan. The clash between these three parties included Israeli police using stun grenades, rubber bullets, and water cannons leaving hundreds wounded.
Three days later, Hamas along with smaller Palestinian militant groups like the Islamic Jihad would send rockets into Israel territory for the third time since the beginning of the twenty first century. Once again, Israel responded firmly with airstrikes towards Hamas in Gaza and killed more than 20 Palestinian civilians.
Israel claimed its response was solely targeting Hamas and the Islamic Jihad’s infrastructure in Gaza of tunnels and safekeeping of its storage of rocket launchers and other deadly weapons. The airstrikes did not only end up firing upon Hamas and the Islamic Jihads, but also devastatingly media headquarters, residential buildings along with refugee and healthcare facilities occupied with Palestinian civilians.
On the May 21, another cease-fire was conducted between Israel and Hamas, once again brokered by Egypt. Even though by the end of the month, 250 Palestinians were killed with 2,000 wounded along with 13 Israelis were also killed, both sides would declare victory over one another.
According to the United Nations, more than 70,000 Palestinians were relocated and millions of dollars worth of damage had been done in Gaza all stemming from the Israeli court decision of eviction taken place in October 2020.
On the mornings of October 7th and 8th of this year, Hamas sent 5,000 rockets over the borders of Israel and infiltrated Israel with 2,500 soldiers. While the Hamas militants aimed to crush soldiers in southern Israel, intensifying its bombardment of the Gaza Strip, Israel gave the green light to take calculated steps including cutting off gas, electricity, water, and other goods within Palestinian borders.
According to the Arabic independent media network, Al Jazeera, as of Tuesday October 24, 2023, Palestinian casualty statistics show at least 5,791 killed, more than half are women and children along with 16,297 injured, and an estimated 1,500 missing, 830 being children. Al Jazeera also shows the Israeli statistics with 1,405 killed, 5,431 missing, and 218 currently held captive by Hamas.
This article is a running story that is subject to change.