Why in news? Israel declared a war on the Gaza Strip after an unprecedented attack by the armed Palestinian group Hamas
- The history of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict traces back to the late 19th century when Zionists sought to establish a homeland for the Jewish people in Ottoman-controlled Palestine.
The Balfour Declaration of 1917
- It issued by the British government, endorsed the idea of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, which led to an influx of Jewish immigrants to the region.
Post Balfour declaration
- During that period, the British facilitated mass Jewish immigration many of the new residents were fleeing Nazism in Europe and they also faced protests and strikes.
- Palestinians were alarmed by their country’s changing demographics and British confiscation of their lands to be handed over to Jewish settlers.
What happened during the 1930s?
- Escalating tensions eventually led to the Arab Revolt, which lasted from 1936 to 1939.
- The newly formed Arab National Committee called on Palestinians to launch a general strike, withhold tax payments and boycott Jewish products to protest British colonialism and growing Jewish immigration.
- The six-month strike was brutally repressed by the British, who launched a mass arrest campaign and carried out punitive home demolitions, a practice that Israel continues to implement against Palestinians today.
- The second phase of the revolt began in late 1937 and was led by the Palestinian peasant resistance movement, which targeted British forces and colonialism.
- The British collaborated with the Jewish settler community and formed armed groups and a British-led “counterinsurgency force” of Jewish fighters named the Special Night Squads.
- Within the Yishuv, the pre-state settler community, arms were secretly imported and weapons factories established to expand the Haganah, the Jewish paramilitary that later became the core of the Israeli army.
- Following World War II and the Holocaust, international pressure mounted for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, leading to the creation of Israel in 1948.
What was the UN partition plan?
- By 1947, the Jewish population had ballooned to 33 percent of Palestine, but they owned only 6 percent of the land.
- The United Nations adopted Resolution 181, which called for the partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states.
- The Palestinians rejected the plan because it allotted about 55 percent of Palestine to the Jewish state, including most of the fertile coastal region.
The 1948 Nakba, or the ethnic cleansing of Palestine
- Zionist paramilitaries embarked on a military operation to destroy Palestinian towns and from 1947 to 1949, more than 500 Palestinian villages, towns and cities were destroyed in what Palestinians refer to as the Nakba, or “catastrophe” in Arabic.
- The Zionist movement captured 78 percent of historic Palestine. The remaining 22 percent was divided into what are now the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip.
The years after the Nakba
- At least 150,000 Palestinians remained in the newly created state of Israel and lived under a tightly controlled military occupation for almost 20 years before they were eventually granted Israeli citizenship.
- Egypt took over the Gaza Strip, and in 1950, Jordan began its administrative rule over the West Bank.
- In 1964, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) was formed, and a year later, the Fatah political party was established
Naksa, or the Six-Day War and the settlements
- On June 5, 1967, Israel occupied the rest of historic Palestine, including the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Syrian Golan Heights and the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula during the Six-Day War against a coalition of Arab armies.
- For some Palestinians, this led to a second forced displacement, or Naksa, which means “setback” in Arabic.
The first Intifada 1987-1993
- The first Palestinian Intifada erupted in the Gaza Strip in December 1987 after four Palestinians were killed when an Israeli truck collided with two vans carrying Palestinian workers.
- Protests spread rapidly to the West Bank with young Palestinians throwing stones at Israeli army tanks and soldiers.
- It also led to the establishment of the Hamas movement, an off-shoot of the Muslim Brotherhood that engaged in armed resistance against the Israeli occupation
- In 1988, the Arab League recognised the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinian people.
- In 1987, shortly after the outbreak of the First Intifada against Israel, Hamas was founded by Palestinian imam and activist Ahmed Yassin.
- It is a political and military organization that is the de facto government of Palestine in the Gaza Strip of the Palestinian territories.
The Oslo years and the Palestinian Authority
- The Intifada ended with the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 and the formation of the Palestinian Authority (PA), an interim government that was granted limited self-rule in pockets of the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
- In 1995, Israel built an electronic fence and concrete wall around the Gaza Strip, snapping interactions between the split Palestinian territories.
The Palestinian division and the Gaza blockade
- A year later PLO leader Yasser Arafat died, the second Intifada ended and Palestinians voted in a general election for the first time.
- Hamas won a majority. However, a Fatah-Hamas civil war broke out, lasting for months, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of Palestinians.
- Hamas expelled Fatah from the Gaza Strip, and Fatah – the main party of the Palestinian Authority – resumed control of parts of the West Bank.
- In June 2007, Israel imposed a land, air and naval blockade on the Gaza Strip, accusing Hamas of “terrorism”.